The Time is Right for Gayle to Go

Flying High Blog

It is a debate that has split opinion amongst Palace fans for the best part of a year, but with the news that Bristol City have put in a bid of £6m plus add-ons for Dwight Gayle, the question of whether he should stay or go has now been well and truly thrust into the spotlight. Despite liking the striker, Sam Hesketh thinks it makes sense to sell.

Undoubtedly a fantastic finisher, Dwight has shown flashes of brilliance during his short time as an Eagle. His sublime curling effort in the last minute against Villa, his famous brace that ruined the Scousers title hopes, his dramatic winner against Burnley to complete a comeback from two down, all examples of what he has to offer. However, with the club moving up the Premier League and bars being lifted season-on-season, is Gayle able to give the team more than just goals?

It sounds ridiculous of course, because goals win games, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. We would love to see a striker shooting up the top scorer charts but if he hits a patch where the goals aren’t flowing quite so freely, he needs to be providing other reasons for his inclusion in the team, something Glenn Murray and, all going well, Connor Wickham will do.

Given the same amount of games, it’s possible that the diminutive ex-Posh man would score more than Murray

Given the same amount of games, it’s possible that the diminutive ex-Posh man would score more than Murray, but it is Murray’s overall game that merits his being kept on as a Palace player. Murray can hassle the entire back line throughout a game, win valuable flick-ons and provide an outlet for long balls up the pitch as well as chipping in with important goals, as he did in the latter part of last season. Unfortunately Gayle cannot offer the same.

Perhaps it’s folly to compare two completely different players, but the thinking behind being open to selling Gayle at the right price is likely to be in reference to the system we play as a team, rather than the finishing attributes of the player in isolation. Having added Connor Wickham to the squad this season, Pardew clearly sees the merits of having a presence up front, going so far to say that he believes the former Mackem can learn a lot from the experienced Murray, seemingly pushing Gayle even further down the pecking order.

He may be able to provide more in a 4-4-2, running on to Murray’s knock-downs much as he did on that famous night against Liverpool, but realistically that formation isn’t going to be used for any prolonged period of time and with Cabaye, Puncheon and hopefully now Zaha providing more goal threat, it makes even less sense to dispense of a midfielder just to accommodate him.

A large number of his fans have bemoaned Pardew’s use of Gayle out wide as it isn’t playing to his strengths. Whilst this is true and he often drifts out of games for large periods whilst situated on the touchline, as a Premier League player you need to be able to adapt and over the last two years, he hasn’t been able to manage that. In addition, with the form of both Wilf and Yala last season and the potential that Sako brings both in terms of wing-play and goal threat, there seems little use trying to persist with Gayle out wide.

Gayle is a good player, enjoyable to watch when he’s on form and certainly capable of notching a decent amount of goals

Gayle is a good player, enjoyable to watch when he’s on form and certainly capable of notching a decent amount of goals, but in a similar way to Darren Ambrose, if he’s not scoring, he’s not doing much at all. In previous years, seeing someone like Gayle move on would be a decision many would find baffling, but at the niveau we now find ourselves perched upon, it becomes less of a loss to the team.

With Hull bidding £9m for Brentford’s Gray, the £6m fee looks a very good deal for Bristol City and he’s a good bet to do well if he drops down to the Championship, of that there is no doubt. If Palace had gone down the year Pulis kept us up, the thought of him in the second tier would have fostered much optimism of a promotion straight back to the top flight. As it stands though, Palace have outgrown the need to force a player into the team and unfortunately for Gayle, that means his time at Selhurst looks very likely to be coming to an end.


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