CRYSTAL Palace boss Ian Holloway says he can’t wait to find out if his newly-promoted side can defy the odds against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
The Eagles have been on a high since May’s play-off final win over Watford secured a Premier League return for the first time in eight years.
But after a summer of basking in the glory, now it is down to serious business on Sunday for a televised opening day London derby with Andre Villas-Boas’ Spurs.
Holloway said: “They are a fantastic team who finished in the top five last year and we are the people who just came up through the play-offs, so let’s see if we can bridge that gap quickly.
“I’m very excited for the season, I remember the day we got to the Premier League like it was yesterday.
“I remember how proud I was of Crystal Palace and the fans but I realise how difficult it is going to be.
“But the opportunity is absolutely fantastic and it all starts next week.
“The honeymoon is now over.”
And Holloway admits there is still a lot of work to do on and off the field if his side are going to be ready for Sunday’s game.
The Eagles welcomed Italian giants Lazio to Selhurst Park on Saturday as they looked to sign off their pre-season campaign in style.
But the manager revealed he was both frustrated and embarrassed at the final whistle after Palace went down 1-0 to a first half Miroslav Klose goal.
Holloway said: “That’s a really good side who we have played but I am a little frustrated because I wasn’t pleased with what I saw to be honest, although the second half was better.
“The first half was just a little bit lumpy.
“We have got to learn some new things.
“Far too many of us sold ourselves and didn’t realise that these sort of players will twist you and turn you and we took ourselves out of the game too easily.
“It is up to me to get these lads going because I want that enterprise, that enthusiasm, that work-rate and I was disappointed to not have seen it in the first half.”
The manager added: “I’ve got to try and find a way of playing that suits this group because without Wilfried we just don't look the same team in this shape.
“I changed it towards the end of the game so we had four players floating in and around midfield with two on the last line and I think we looked a lot more dangerous and should have scored.”
It was not just the performance that disappointed Holloway, however.
Just 6,588 fans were in attendance as the Arthur Wait stand was closed to fans because necessary structural work was still in progress.
Selhurst Park, home of the Eagles since 1924, has had to have a major renovation in order to bring certain areas of the stadium up to new Premier League regulations and this work is still ongoing in some places.
Holloway explained this is an after effect of being the last club to be promoted via the play-offs.
“It isn’t an ideal when you are coming into it this late,” he said.
“We are having to do all of the work on the stadium because we have had to shut half of it today and that is not a usual scenario, is it?
“I feel a little bit embarrassed for Lazio because they are a huge club and we have only got a handful of supporters here but I think it will be different next week.”
Follow @NewsShopperSprt for live updates from Crystal Palace v Spurs on Sunday, kick-off 1.30pm.