Ian Holloway brought Jason Puncheon to Blackpool on loan from Southampton in January 2011 to try and avoid relegation from the Premier League in the Tangerines’ first top flight season since the early 1970s. At the time it seemed odd. Why would a Premier League club take a player on loan from a League One club who was surplus to requirements?
Blackpool were relegated on the last day of the 2010/11 season but Puncheon impressed so much that he was again loaned out to a newly promoted Premier League team, Queens Park Rangers. His time at Loftus Road was miserable and he did not get on with manager Neil Warnock. His parent club Southampton finally returned to the Premier League in 2012, and manager Nigel Adkins took advantage of the player’s recent experience in the division by giving him lots of playing time. But despite extending his contract in early 2013, the club didn’t have much use for him under Mauricio Pochettino and he was made available again for loan this past summer.
A familiar suitor came in for him, Ian Holloway — who was then managing Crystal Palace. Puncheon was brought in on loan while over a dozen other players were bought in a summer of rash and hopeful spending by the South London club. Few if any new signings produced for Holloway, who quit in October and replaced by Tony Pulis.
Puncheon however is one of the few consistently useful players Holloway left the new manager. The attacking winger has been at the heart of many of the moves Palace have made going forward during a run of fixtures that has carried the club from the foot of the table out of the drop zone.
Despite a comical missed penalty in last week’s loss to Spurs, Puncheon has been playing exceptionally well linking up Palace’s back four with the attackers in Pulis’ setup. The team’s counter-attacking football has become crisper and more fluid since the Welshman took over a Palace manager and Puncheon has been vital in the quickness with which the team breaks.
Having experienced multiple relegation battles from the Premier League in recent seasons, Puncheon can also share his experience with the Palace dressing room. Holloway made a mess of many of his summer signings, which is why he was ushered out of the job quickly in October. However, his decision to bring Puncheon in on loan was an inspired one.