Kevin Mark Phillips, may be diminutive in height but he has a presence and aura that is both dynamic and effective, and Ian Holloway’s capture of ‘Super Kev’ on a transfer deadline day loan to Crystal Palace may be pivotal in ‘The Eagles’ attempt to successfully secure promotion to the Premier League this season.
As numerous names and potential Palace targets such as George Boyd, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Albert Adomah and DJ Campbell were banded about during the hectic January transfer window, many Palace fans were bemoaning the fact that Kevin Phillips was even in the frame!
There were still a lot of furrowed brows when he signed for the South London Club on loan until the end of the current season. Phillips was seen by many as a footballing veteran at 39 years young, with over 450 senior starts spread over a career spanning nearly 20 years. Numerous fans questioned the signing of Phillips and the ambition of the club, in what many saw as a gamble on a player who was surely over the hill!
On his move to Palace Phillips was the ‘ultimate pro’ saying exactly what the Club and fans alike wanted to hear: "Every time I pull on a Palace shirt or a training kit I will give 100 per cent and I thoroughly look forward to it. Palace are an exciting team, I enjoyed working under Ian Holloway at Blackpool and I really look forward to working with him from now until the end of the season."
Since joining Palace, Phillips had made two substitute appearances and on both occasions he has been instrumental in a change in fortune on the pitch. Less than two weeks ago the Crystal Palace team trudged off the Selhurst Park pitch at half-time looking crestfallen, after a woeful first-half performance against London rivals Charlton. The visitors had dominated the first 45 minutes and deservedly led at the break. Palace were lacklustre and void of ideas. Holloway took immediate action and the former England striker was handed his debut as a half-time substitute.
|Murray and Phillips (right) celebrate!|
This change in personnel clearly had the desired affect as Phillips helped spark a dramatic turnaround. Two goals from the Championship’s top scorer Glenn Murray secured a dramatic 2-1 victory for Palace, with Phillip’s orchestrating a calm, creative and significant influence on the game.
The Palace manager was naturally delighted by Phillip’s debut and the social message boards were awash with praise for the Hitchin born striker. Sentences containing adjectives such as classy, sublime, nippy, polished and impressive were used to describe the impact Phillips had on the match. As a result many fans were forced to eat at least a little piece of humble pie.
A week later and he was at it again, as Palace rescued a point at high flying Watford, despite going into the break two goals down.
Phillips’ introduction at Vicarage Road 10 minutes after half-time culminated in a non-stop second-half onslaught by a rejuvenated Palace team with Phillips and teenage sensation Jonny Williams playing a father and son age defining double act, culminating in Palace coming away with a well deserved point. Phillips firstly providing a good foil for fellow striker Murray, and secondly getting the all important equalizing goal, as he made a wonderfully timed run into the penalty box to expertly dispatch Jazz Richards’ low cross at the far post - his 243rd career league goal!
I don’t think the first 80 minutes of football played by Phillips in the red and blue shirt should be underestimated, as his introduction on both occasions has been quite simply ‘game changing.’ Most players take a while to settle in at a new club, but not ‘Super Kev.’ He signs for Palace, moves down to the South of England, meets up with his old manager, his new team-mates, has a training session or two, and on match day he puts in a couple of performances that make him look like he has been at the club since the year dot!