When he got the call to join new manager Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace revolution, Joachim Andersen knew just the man to call.
‘Of course, I’m also doing my research before I am moving to a place,’ centre-back Andersen said. ‘I played against him with Lyon when he was at Nice so I also know what he stands for and my good friend [Denmark teammate] Kasper Dolberg was his striker [at Nice] so I talked with him about how he was and everything, what kind of training they did and so … what I expected is also what I can see now, so that was a good picture Kasper gave me of him.’
Joachim Andersen (right) joined Crystal Palace from Lyon for a £17million fee this summer
One of the Premier League’s all-time greats and a formidable, fearsome midfielder as a player, is Vieira similar as a manager?
‘Err, no, he is actually a really, really good guy,’ Andersen smiled.
‘I would say he is a joker. He wants to joke with the players, to be close to his players so that’s a little bit different from the managers I had recently. Scott Parker was also a little bit like that but when I was in Italy and France there was, like, a distance from the manager. I like that you can talk with the manager, joke around.
‘He asked me what I was doing yesterday and the other way round so to build the relationship is nice.’
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira became one of the game’s greatest while playing at Arsenal
Andersen, a £17m signing from Lyon, was one of the headline arrivals in a big summer of ins and outs at Selhurst Park.
Andersen, who turned 25 in May, fitted the mould of younger player Palace wanted for Vieira’s new-look team.
As well as the average age Palace’s style is changing too. ‘I also know Palace from different seasons under Roy Hodgson and it is a totally different way of playing,’ Andersen said.
‘It’s a way I like to play football, from the back, aggressive in the pressure, press high, just be on the front foot and when you have the ball more, for me it is easier to defend, you feel better in the game, you feel like you are in the game. It is a big change because Palace the last couple of seasons have been more like a counter attacking team, have kind of sat back and now it is totally different.
The 25-year-old fitted the mould of younger player Palace wanted for Vieira’s new-look team
‘That’s my style of football and why I came here. I want to play with the ball and use my strengths with the ball and my knowledge so of course that was the main reason I came here.’
Last week’s 3-0 win against Tottenham has been the high point so far, a rousing victory against a team who, for much of the summer, led the way in the race to sign Andersen.
‘It was a big, big wish for me to stay in the Premier League,’ Andersen said when asked about the significant interest in him following his loan spell at Fulham last season which also came from elsewhere in the Premier League.
‘And when Palace came with this project I was really hooked on the idea with Patrick coming in, new philosophy, new playing style. Bringing in some interesting players, new players, young generation.’
The 3-0 win over Tottenham last week has been a high point in Andersen’s Palace career so far
And offering him the chance to play regularly too. Watching Andersen shine last season, even during a season that ended in relegation for Fulham, it was a mystery he was available, firstly on loan and then to buy this summer.
‘I wanted to play every game but he [then Lyon manager Rudi Garcia] changed a lot which I was unhappy with but that is football sometimes,’ Andersen explained.
‘Sometimes we have different ideas and I was really enjoying my time there, it is a fantastic club so I have nothing bad to say about them and it brought me here so I am happy.
‘I like to see a project be presented for me and to hopefully play a big role in that building up.
‘I’m 25 years of age. I need to play football. I need to learn, improve so that’s the only way you improve by playing football and use my strengths as well and that I could see here. I am here to take Palace to a good place hopefully.’
Palace’s next destination is Liverpool on Saturday and there was more research for Andersen on Wednesday.
He was an interested spectator, especially during the first half of Liverpool’s Champions League opener against AC Milan, when the Italians scored two counter-attack goals to briefly lead 2-1.
The Eagles face Liverpool next who beat AC Milan 3-2 in the Champions League this week
And Milan’s goals had hallmarks of how Fulham experienced some joy against Liverpool last season, drawing at Craven Cottage and then beating them 1-0 at Anfield.
‘They are some of the things we always have to be good at, to take our chances, when you play against the best.
‘Liverpool is a team who wants to be really aggressive, press high and some of the things that we succeeded with Fulham against them was we were able to beat the first pressure, we were calm in our build up phase and if we manage that again we will have a lot of space to bring our forwards into one against one situations where we have so much quality up front.
‘Hopefully we will be able to do that and I just think with the players we have we can really hurt them.
Andersen was part of the Fulham team that beat the Reds 1-0 at Anfield last season
‘Liverpool is one of the best sides in the world so we have to be sharp, do the same things like we did against Spurs. I feel good, the team feel good and we are ready to compete.’
For all the Palace positivity and excitement about the next phase of his career, when the conversation turned to his Denmark teammate Christian Eriksen and the traumatic events against Finland during Euro 2020, Andersen said something nobody would argue with: ‘Football doesn’t matter anymore when something like that happens.’
Andersen has taken some comfort in Eriksen’s recovery following his collapse, caused by a cardiac arrest the former Spurs playmaker suffered on the pitch.
Andersen’s Denmark team-mate Christian Eriksen traumatically collapsed during Euro 2020
But even via zoom and understandably the mood changes. Finding the right words on a raw, sensitive subject takes a little longer with Andersen clearly choosing his carefully as he recalls the incident and aftermath.
‘It was a difficult situation. It is still a difficult situation,’ Andersen said. ‘What happened with Christian was terrible but he is in good hands, healthy again.
Eriksen was taken to hospital following cardiac arrest but has since recovered
‘Enjoying his time with his family and trying to understand what he wants so for the moment I just don’t want to talk too much about Christian because I know he is happy, in good hands so that makes me relaxed and really happy in my head as well so that’s good.’
Somehow, from that harrowing near tragedy, Denmark summoned the spirit to embark on an emotional run to the semi-finals, ended by England at Wembley, and have won their first three World Cup qualifiers of this season.
Andersen said: ‘Everyone in the country was on high emotions and it really brought everyone together and I still think we are riding a little bit on that emotions.
‘When we got back to the hotel the days, the weeks after, people saw sides of each other that we never saw before so of course that brought us closer together and I think that also helps on the pitch.
‘We have to be happy for who you have got close with you because in a moment life can be gone. Luckily he is still here but it could have been worse.’