Palace 1-4 Fulham
This match was dubbed at the “Getting Sacked in the Morning” showdown. With Palace boss, Ian Holloway, and his Fulham counterpart, Martin Jol, both reportedly needing to win to avoid a swing of their respective Chairman’s axe. As Jol waxed lyrical about a goal from Kasami, that will go down as one of the best ever scored in the Premier League, and his side’s 4-1 victory, Holloway and Palace co-Chairman Steve Parish conducted a, content unknown, meeting in the depths of the 89 year old Main Stand at Selhurst Park.
Odds dramatically shortened on Holloway to be the next Premier League Manager to be sacked, falling as low as 6/4, however, yet the Bristolian emerged at 11pm to face the press still in charge of Crystal Palace.
The question that got the ball rolling, perhaps the understatement of the century, was “Ian, a difficult night?” “Just slightly, yeah” was the response from the beleaguered looking gaffer. This proved to be a difficult night for the entire club, from top to bottom. The players looked beaten, rumours circulated that Holloway was trying to resign and fans argued about everything and anything. The joy of May 27th seems an age ago.
Two very important lessons were learned by everyone at Crystal Palace Football Club last night. One that we already knew and one that we probably knew but were too scared to admit.
Lesson one; the Premier League is totally and utterly unforgiving. Of course we know this already but to be so cruelly pegged back, after making our best start to a match this season, by one of the greatest goals ever, was a hard pill to swallow. For this to then be followed up by another world class strike into the top corner of Speroni’s goal was, plainly and simply, brutal.
This leads to, unfortunately, lesson two. I had ignored the nagging voice in the back of my head that suggested the boys wearing the shirt that I follow up and down the country have no character, last night showed that I have to live up to this reality. Last season we trialled 0-2 against eventual champions, Cardiff, yet turned the game around and won 3-2. We trialled 0-2 to, now top of the Championship, Burnley yet turned the game around and won 4-3. We gifted Wolves a goal at Mollineux before turning the game on its head to win 2-1. These are but three examples of the character that our 2012/13 squad possessed. They refused to know when they were beaten and this breathed belief through the entire club. This season is a stark contrast to last. The way in which the team capitulated in the second half last night was extremely worrying.
Holloway has accepted responsibility for this and now has the tough, maybe impossible, task of instilling the sort of belief and character seen in SE25 during the last campaign. If he cannot find a way to do this, then we could be claiming a very unwelcome record from Derby County.
Holloway, Relegation Worries & “Acceptable” Passion
Losing six of our first seven games was annoying but had not entirely concerned me. I have picked out the games this season in which we need to pick up as many points as possible. In our first seven games of the season we had only played two of these games and managed to win one of them. I always had my eye on this game as the one I would use to judge where we are as team and, in turn, our chances of survival. I am a victim of my own theory and thus can only draw the conclusion that we are doomed.
Regular readers will know that I am an extremely optimistic person and thus I have already readjusted my calculations and happily discovered that, with thirty games still remaining, we are not down yet. There is no denying, however, that winning a third of the remaining games could prove to be very difficult.
"Got to be honest, I'd pull the trigger."
Under the circumstances I fully understand why people are starting to call for Holloway’s head. At this moment in time I am not entirely sure that I disagree with them. “Got to be honest, I’d pull the trigger” said Daily Mirror columnist and Palace fan, Ed Malyon, on Twitter after the match. This feeling was echoed in the stadium as the Holmesdale Fanatics headed down to the tunnel at full time to leave Ian Holloway in no uncertain terms about how they feel (see video attached to this report).
Everyone in the stadium has paid their hard earned money to be there and is entitled to offer an opinion in whatever way they like, within the confines of the law of course. Was bad language used? Yes. Is this unusual in a football stadium? No. Was one of the abusers miming a cut throat gesture wrong/stupid? Yes. Will he leave the stadium and actually cut Holloway’s throat? Of course not! If anything, this gesture was more likely to symbolise Ollie’s time at Palace is coming to an end. What we definitely need though is another 50 page BBS thread to discuss, in great depth, how the perpetrator is the scum of the earth.
"Does this make me the scum of the earth also?"
I managed to call referee Lee Mason a series of disgusting words that I would never actually use outside of a football stadium. Whether or not these boundaries should be, acceptably, crossed in football stadia is another debate for another time but football is my weekly stress outlet and I refuse to bow to the belief that there is acceptable and non acceptable levels of passion. Do I think that Lee Mason is a c*** now? Absolutely not! Did I mean it when I shouted it several times between 8 and 10pm last night? You can bet your life that I did. So I ask everyone this question; does this make me the scum of the earth also?
At the Crystal Palace Vice President’s dinner on Thursday night Ian Holloway said; “let me know when you’ve had enough and me and I will piss off.” When he was asked about the abuse that he received at the end of the game, his answer was “I felt exactly the way they did.” Never forget that Ian Holloway loves football. He gets football and he understands fans. Is he surprised that there are a percentage of fans that want him out? No chance. He would think it strange it there wasn’t. Despite this supposedly awful treatment Ollie talked about how great the fans were. Not once did he say words like “a majority of the fans”, he referred to each and every fan when he said this. He knows that the fans in the corner making most of the noise were the same fans that were by the tunnel screaming blue murder at him but he gets it.
On Thursday night, Holloway went on to say “...everything I do I will do with this clubs best interest at heart. There is not one person bigger than Crystal Palace FC and we are all here trying to do the best for you, the fans.” This was behind closed doors with no cameras to the 71 people in attendance. This was not showmanship; this was not saying what one may think the media wants to hear. This was a man, who had spent the previous half an hour intently listening to the 40 year history of the VPs Club on what should have been a night off work for him, speaking openly and honestly. Regardless of how any of us think that he is performing as our manager, we can never doubt that this man is not trying his best for the club. If he no longer feels like his best is good enough then, trust me, he will resign.
Now for a few home truths.
Puncheon Above His Weight
I have always wondered from afar why Jason Puncheon has never made it in the Premier League. From up close the reasons are all too clear. Why he is technically sound, has good strength and pace there is one simple ingredient missing; desire. In a relegation dog fight, without desire you are a waste of space in any starting eleven. Get stuck in, Jason, for crying out loud.
No Gayle Force
Dwight turned 24 last week and thus young cannot be used as an excuse. He has been largely ineffectual so far this season and is showing little in the ways of learning fast, a talent that he will need to have any chance of keeping us up this season. His movement is predictable and defenders are much more wily a dealing with pace at this level. Adapt or sink not so young man.
You are by far and away the best player at Crystal Palace. Stop sulking and show us why we pay you £39k a week! I point out what he earns as because, if he plays to his potential, he is worth it at this level. At the moment he is barely worth £39k a year.
Man of the Match: Joel Ward
Best of a bad bunch.
Incredible when 1-0 up and even at 1-1. Goals either side of half time knocked the stuffing out of just about everyone. The crowd will be key at home games this season yet we have managed to concede at the most inopportune times in the last two games where atmosphere is concerned.