The venue for the interview is Heathrow airport, which seems fitting given the amount of time that Iain Moody has spent getting on and off planes over the last 12 months. The Crystal Palace sporting director made 47 flights across 60 days when he was the brains behind Cardiff City's recruitment strategy in the summer. "I'm just about to get an upgrade on my frequent flyer status with BA," Moody says, smiling.
Moody is heading out to France to run his eyes over a player ahead of the transfer window reopening next month. Steve Parish, the Palace co-chairman, has said that the club's approach in the market will be dictated by whether they are in with a fighting chance of survival come the turn of the year.
Encouraged by a return of seven points from their last four matches and the appointment of Tony Pulis as manager, Moody says that the targets being drawn up are with a view to helping the club stay in the Premier League.
"Absolutely that's the case. It's not short-termism at the exclusion of everything else but certainly the first consideration is: do these players make us better now? Partly because of the results that we've attained, partly because once you get to the Premier League it would be foolish to fritter it away and think we'll go down and come back, because you may never come back. The chairman is very keen that we do all we can to maintain Premier League status, the new manager came here because it was a Premier League club and the expectation that it will remain one, and likewise myself."
Moody took up his role at Palace at the start of last month, four weeks after he had left Cardiff, Saturday's opponents at Selhurst Park, in controversial circumstances that severely undermined the position of Malky Mackay, the Welsh club's manager. For a man who has no desire to court publicity – this is his first interview with a national newspaper and he insists that he would much rather leave Parish and Pulis to do the talking - the fall-out from his departure from Cardiff has been, he admits, "extraordinary".
Moody went from being someone "no one had heard of" to being splashed across the back pages, publicly scrutinised for every transfer made under his watch and, in a more surreal development, approached at a recent match by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spokesman, "to discuss how I'd found being in the papers a lot".
The agreement Moody signed when he left Cardiff means that he is unable to go into the circumstances surrounding his exit, although the fact of the matter is that the 39-year-old has no idea why he was pushed out of his job as the club's head of recruitment. There was no justification given in the club statement that was released at the time and when Vincent Tan, the Cardiff owner, was asked last month about Moody's departure, the Malaysian said: "I will explain when I'm ready to explain."
"I look forward to his explanation because I'm still bereft of any official explanation from him, so it will bring some light on it from my point of view too," Moody says. "I have no doubt that it was his decision. But I have had no direct conversation with him at all since something like 28 August, at the end of the window."
One thing that Moody will say is that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing. "I have never been made aware of any allegations of that from the club and as far as I'm concerned I've never given them any reason to imagine there has been any wrongdoing. There was talk about [overspending] but there was an agreed budget back in April, once we had been promoted, and then at the end of the window I produced a spreadsheet which showed that we were about £4m within budget. So there is no lingering doubt of any suspicion of wrongdoing."
Events took another bizarre twist when it emerged that Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old from Kazakhstan with no previous football experience, had been appointed as Moody's successor. Moody was first introduced to Apsalyamov – who has since been forced to temporarily stand down from his position because of problems with his visa – by Tan's son at Cardiff's end-of-season promotion party. "Then I saw him around the club because he was doing work experience, with the academy, with the stadium maintenance team – doing his painting – and he was driving people around," Moody says. "And then some time in late July, I went to France to watch a game and meet a player and his agent. I was told [by Simon Lim, the chief executive] a couple of days before that [Apsalyamov] was going to shadow me because he wanted to learn my role and so from now on he was going to be following me around for the last six weeks of the transfer window.
"I told Simon I thought it was a terrible idea. Not that I had anything to hide but I thought it looked odd. The whole thing in France took place in French, he couldn't speak French, so he kind of sat in the corner twiddling his thumbs while I was negotiating and trying to buy a player."
Proud of the part that he played in helping Cardiff win promotion to the Premier League and grateful for the opportunity he was given when he followed Mackay from Watford in 2011, Moody stresses that he feels no bitterness whatsoever towards a club "where most of my best friends in football work". At the same time, he is keen to do everything in his power to help Palace pick up three crucial points, right down to giving Pulis chapter and verse on the Cardiff players he knows inside out. "I will do all I can to help Palace win the game and I'm sure Malky would expect me to do that."
Moody says that he has found Pulis to be "very positive and open to work with" and paints a picture of a fluid relationship where the two of them, together with Parish, discuss potential signings, aided by input from Tim Coe, the club's head of recruitment. "It's an information flow in all directions between us; it's not just one-way," says Moody, whose wider remit is to "marry the medium- and long-term needs of the club with the short-term needs of the manager."
Clear parameters will help. "My understanding is that I will do all the negotiations and leave it up to Steve to say whether that is fine," says Moody. "But the important thing is to be the one voice that the buying club hears, because if there are two people it becomes confused. Steve and Tony have absolutely bought into this, that I am the single point of contact for agents and clubs. The three of us then exchange information and I go back with our response."
There is an acknowledgement, though, that Palace are operating at a different level in the market to Cardiff, who broke their transfer record three times in the summer and spent more than £30m. "At Cardiff we were fortunate that we were able to do two or three players in the upper bracket because the owner was very ambitious and made it plain what he expected of us," Moody says. "I think Palace are more cost-conscious and I don't expect that we are going to spend £8m on a player this January. I think Steve would expect two or three good players for that, rather than one outstanding player."
Not that Moody sounds downbeat about that prospect. He is highly motivated by the challenge ahead and talks excitedly about everything from Palace's academy – "probably one of the best performing parts of the club over the last 10 years" – to the "fantastic fans" that create a special atmosphere inside Selhurst Park.
Indeed when it is put to Moody, as he prepares to head to the departure lounge, that it could be a hard sell to get players to come to Palace in January, he completely disagrees. "London is a huge plus for us," he says. "The Premier League is a huge plus, the league position and a chance of staying up will also help.
"We sell out every game. The stadium plans are still at a very early stage but if they come to fruition, we're talking the high 30s with capacity – and I think the area could support that. So three to five years from now the club could be aspiring to be eighth or 10th in the Premier League, rather than 17th, which is the short-term goal."