Br*ghton 3-0 Palace
Ulloa 43, 50, David Lopez 45
Sun 17th March 2013
"Relive the action” is the tagline of this site. Now I must relive one of the worst footballing days of my life.
How do I even start? In the three seasons that I have been writing these reports I have only once had to write about such a pride sapping defeat. That day we lost 3-0 at Millwall. Thankfully George Burley was sacked before I had arrived at home and the report was used to look forward and not at the car crash that had occurred earlier in the day. The sacking provided refuge, cover that I could hide behind. No such hiding is possible here.
I like to give myself a day to let the match sink in so that I can fully reflect and thus balance my opinion between the emotion of the day and the sound judgement that follows once the adrenaline has subsided. It works well for me 99.9% of the time. This time it has not.
Dave Moore will talk more in an article later this week about the Social Media meltdown that has occurred long before the final whistle had even sounded at the Amex. Just for context purposes, the absolute tripe that I have been reading in the last twenty four hours has just served to top up all of the anger and frustration that should have left my head by now.
Yes, this was a catastrophic result. In an ideal world we would never lose to Brighton and we would forever have bragging rights over our subordinates from the South Coast. Unfortunately this is not the case. They will beat us occasionally. At least they are good now. Remember losing to a Paul McShane goal at Selhurst when they were bottom of the league? That was so much worse than this.
"This is a catastrophic result in isolation only."
What we must remember is that this is a catastrophic result in isolation only. On the day and against our rivals it was almost world ending for some people, however, in the grand scheme of things it is far from the end of days. Everyone else lost and it is just as you were. We are still three points from automatic promotion with a whole eight games to make up the gap.
I am not going to do a Holloway and play down the importance of the fixture. I believe that his comments after the game were naive and, basically, stupid. To talk about needing a “new coat” and to call it a “local derby” whilst saying that “local derbies are stupid” is just outright suicide in the eyes of a majority of Palace fans. This is not just a local derby, it is so much more.
This rivalry was formed by the fans and NOT geographical boundaries. Our dislike of them is not simply because they are just down the road. Territory has nothing to do with it. We hate them and they hate us because we made conscious decisions to hate each other.
Gus Poyet has learned the hard way about the rivalry.
Gus Poyet has learned the hard way about the rivalry. He treated the game at the Amex last season as just another game. No matter how much one is told about the rivalry, one cannot fully comprehend it until they have experienced it.
We went into that game as underdogs. Brighton were top of the league and continuing the momentum promotion the previous season had created. Dougie Freedman, however, had other ideas. He knew well and truly what the fixture meant to the fans. His 100th goal for Palace came against the scum and it was his experience of the derby that enabled him to inspire his troops to produce a stunning display and turn them over.
Holloway has now learned the hard way. Sure he has managed a Palace Brighton fixture already, however, the Dunk sending off took the sting out of that game. He learned nothing about its importance that day. He will see the outcry that his post match comments have caused and he will approach the fixture differently in the future.
Our gaffer did not just come in for some stick because of his post match comments. His tactics were also questioned. He acted early and he acted hard. Williams and Bolasie were replaced at the break by Phillips and Moritz. These changes appeared to surprise many Palace fans and their dramatic failure only fuelled the fire of what I hope is a minority of Palace fans. One problem with Twitter is that players and owners alike only ever respond to the negativity so we tend to believe that the minority is a majority.
When Holloway made similar substitutions at Watford away and we rescued a point, people raved about his changes whilst criticising the way we started the game. With Holloway you know what you are going to get. You basically live or die by the sword. This time we died.
Anyone who reads this knows I am extremely positive, maybe even to my detriment at times. Unfortunately, I do not have anything positive to say about these changes. Why? When similar changes saw us over turn a 0-2 deficit at Watford. Basically, all that we did wrong in the first half was go in 2-0 down.
I know that this sounds ridiculous but it is true. We were on top for large periods in the first half and but for a terrific save from Kuszczak and a shocking miss from Parr, we could have very well been taking a lead into the break. Instead, we were caught with two late sucker punches and Holloway believed that we had to chase the game.
I think that this was the wrong thing to do. We were creating many chances and definitely had a goal in us. If we scored the next goal after half time, it was game on. Instead we made changes, took too long to adjust and the weakening of our midfield, by taking one out to make two up top, saw Brighton take advantage and grab the third before our new shape found its bearings. Then the game was well and truly lost.
How did we concede two goals against the run of play? Two words; Jonny Parr.
I have listened to the arguments that he gets little protection from the winger in front of him, however, I completely disagree. His positioning is nothing short of shocking and his decision making of when to close down or stand-off is nearly always wrong. Buckley, by using the same touch every time, just took the piss out of him by cutting inside each and every time Parr sold himself. He was too easy to read and he cost us every goal in this game.
Worse still, Parr’s terrible play almost got KG sent off. To be honest, I have no idea how KG was not sent off for his lunge that bought about the goal scoring free kick. It was over the top and the referee will undoubtedly look back and realise that he got the decision wrong. Sure KG didn’t touch him and Buckley definitely made the most of it, but you just cannot jump in like that.
Now, let’s take the emotion out of the fixture and look at the game in terms of the bigger picture. Firstly, let’s look at Ulloa. He cost £2.5m which is more than the entire Palace squad cost (excluding Zaha’s Man Utd fee which doesn’t really count until the end of this season). Brighton are throwing millions and millions at it yet we are still six points clear of them. We shouldn’t even be close to their level yet we are extremely competitive whilst spending within our means.
Secondly, we are still well in the mix, way more in the mix than we could ever have dreamed of six months ago. To be three points off of second with only eight games to go is a glorious position to be in and one that twenty other teams in this division will be jealous of.
In previous years I would have been worried that this defeat would break our team’s spirit.
Finally, regardless of the comments made by Holloway after the game it is clear by the comments made by our players on Twitter that they are hurting after that loss. In previous years I would have been worried that this defeat would break our team’s spirit. Look what the Semi Final defeat at Cardiff did to us last season! With this group of players, I do not fear such a capitulation. I genuinely believe that we will respond positively to this and that it will enable us to kick on and take second place. I would not like to be Birmingham this coming Good Friday as we will be looking to deal out a serious thrashing to show our character.
As much as this loss hurts, remember that these types of losses make the good times so much sweeter. Promotion come May and we will have the last laugh!
Man of the Match: Mile Jedinak
Superb as always. Confuses me that he ever get’s dropped to centre back but Holloway gets paid the big bucks to make these decisions and is far more qualified than me.
I fell in love with Mile a little more at the end of the match. As many players made the token gesture of walking over to the Palace fans and clapping when all they wanted to do was head off to the sanctuary of the changing room. Not Mile. He came right up to the Palace fans, as close as he could physically get without actually climbing into the stands, and vehemently clapped the Palace faithful. He knew that we had been let down and he wanted to give us something in return. Even if it was just a vigorous clap, it meant a lot.
Whenever I think about this game I will think of one song and one song only.
“Thirty goals. Thanks a lot!”
The scum had no response. Even when they win 3-0, they do not have it all their own way.
They’ve won this battle. We will win the war. Against Brighton, we always do!