Ian Holloway: Crystal Palace players are over nervous spell

Ian Holloway

Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway says his squad is over the nervousness that almost cost them a place in the Championship play-offs.

Palace take on Brighton for a place at Wembley with the first leg at Selhurst Park on Friday night.

"What nearly cost us was the players wanting it too much and getting really nervous," he told BBC London 94.9.

"They're not like that any more. I think they've realised it is just a fabulous opportunity to become a hero."

After being two points off the second automatic promotion place with 10 games left, the Eagles failed to win any of their next nine matches.

Two goals in the final 10 minutes of their last league game of the season against Peterborough ended their barren run and secured a fifth-place finish in the Championship.

"When Kevin Phillips equalised last Saturday, you just can't replace that sort of emotion - I can't believe how emotional I actually got," Holloway added.

"In hindsight, we could have lost and still made the play-offs but the joy is what the game is about.

"The last 10 games have been difficult but this group have grown together - there's been no fracture in the camp.

"You are either resilient and get stronger or you can get a scary situation like what's happened at Wolves."

Holloway has experienced play-off joy as recently as 2010 when he led Blackpool to the Premiership by overcoming Cardiff City at Wembley.

His Tangerines side were beaten by a late Ricardo Vaz Te goal last season and it was West Ham, not Blackpool, who returned to the top flight at the first time of asking.

"I just want us to do ourselves justice but win or lose they'll be stronger for the experience," he continued.

"I've taken on the favourite twice and won once, I've seen grown men crumble under the pressure, I've seen people you wouldn't expect grow into the occasion.

"I've got a tingly feeling already. It's awful at times, being responsible for carrying everyone's hopes and dreams but this is what life's about, where else would I get a feeling like this?

"That's football - complete, utter, pure emotion."

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