Palace 1-3 Sund'land
I’ve pondered all day on how I was going to execute this match report. I am genuinely appreciative of every reader that I have and still find it a little bizarre that so many of you continue to read my waffle week in week out. This is simultaneously probably going to be the easiest and the hardest to write.
It is always easier to write about a crushing defeat than it is an easy win. I like searching for the positives in amongst the negatives. I like analysing what went wrong and suggesting what could be done to put it right. That’s why this is going to be easy for me.
The hard part will come later and I will signal when we are there.
A Steven Fletcher brace helped Sunderland to a first victory at Selhurst Park in 19 years and a first victory on a Monday night in 12 years. The Scots two goals sandwiched a Palace equaliser in the form of a Wes Brown own goal and a brilliant strike from the repulsive Jordi Gomez. More on the use of the word “repulsive” later.
On the balance of the match Sunderland probably edged it due to superior quality in the final third of the field, but the truth is that it could have all been very different. With less than 25 seconds on the clock Fraizer Campbell burst into the Sunderland penalty area and was hacked down from behind by Santiago Vergini. Referee Phil Dowd waved play on and another stonewall penalty not given was added to the ever growing list for Crystal Palace this season.
Having dominated the first half an hour the Eagles failed to find a breakthrough and were made to pay as Sunderland scored with their first attack of note. Appalling defending saw Fletcher nod home unmarked from a left wing clip into the area. Sunderland then grew in confidence and only a fine Julian Speroni save kept the score to one.
Ten minutes into the second half and Palace were gifted a route back into the game. The away defence switched off for a short corner and Wilfried Zaha found Marouane Chamakh at the back post where he should have scored with a header. Instead Costel Pantiliomon pulled off a fantastic save to keep the header out. The danger was not over, however, as Campbell reacted quickest for the home team and pounced on the rebound to back heel the ball back across goal. With Chamakh set to tap home the equaliser, Wes Brown flew across the front of the Moroccan and awkwardly smashed the ball in off the post with his trailing left foot.
The next ten minutes saw Palace attack after Palace attack but Sunderland were able to ride out the storm before once more growing into the game and grabbing the crucial third goal of the game on the 79th minute.
The home side were once again at fault, giving the ball away twice and winning back possession before unforgivably giving the ball away a third time where there was no let off as the “revolting” Gomez fired home left footed from range.
Palace searched for an equaliser that did not come before the antics of the away team in the last 10 minutes ended up with a red card for Mile Jedinak and a third goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Jordi Gomez: A tale of integrity lost
(Now before I moan, I will get on to how our performance was not good enough. So do not think that I am suggesting that we lost only because of the following. We were as much enablers of our own downfall in this match as what follows in this section, but I will get to our shortcomings later).
Let me clear one thing up. Mile Jedinak was rightfully sent off. He was stupid and we should all expect more from our captain. However, Mile Jedinak has history here. He never ever goes to ground to challenge unless he is rattled. He gave away the penalty at West Brom when lunging in after he grew visibly frustrated at the referee’s inability to award a correct decision. He can’t let it get to him.
On the other hand, he was far more restrained than I would have been on Gomez. The man is, quite simply, a disgusting human being (in a footballing sense) and last night I created a list of footballers that I would spit at if I saw them walking down the street. He sits firmly at the top.
After scoring, he celebrated unnecessarily in front of the Crystal Palace fans. Why is completely beyond me. His provocation led to bottle being thrown on the pitch and we will no doubt be fined as a result. Chadli was booked at the Emirates a couple of weeks back for cupping his ear when he scored against Arsenal. Gomez was picking out individual people to provoke in the crowd, yet Phil Dowd seems to think that this is ok. Yet again, fantastic consistency displayed by supposedly the best referee’s in the country. But more on his bullsh*t performance later.
Sunderland had been time wasting for the entire game. Even at 1-1. At 2-1 it got ridiculous. After Mile Jedinak kicked the ball in to touch so that a Sunderland player could get treatment, the player proceeded in getting up almost as soon as the ball went into touch. The ball was then thrown to Gomez who proceeded to prove that he would be pretty good at rugby as he kicked the ball into the corner and out for a Palace throw in.
Now he could have done this accidentally and I was not as quick to get on his back as the rest of the crowd. What then happened showed that he meant it as he gestured for his team to box us in the corner! 10 seconds later, they have the ball and Jedinak is receiving his marching orders for kicking out with frustration as he failed to win back a ball that should have rightfully been ours!
If you are prepared to win at the expense of sportsmanship then you will get absolutely no respect from me. The only saving grace is that karma is an insensitive little b*tch and he will get his comeuppance in due course. Let’s just hope it’s not in the form of a horrific career ending injury as it would be all that he deserves for showing absolutely zero integrity.
Mr Gomez, you are blessed with the talents to play the sport that we all so dearly adore. If you are not prepared to play the game in the spirit that it warrants, then do not play it at all.
Phil Dowd: We always get sh*t refs
Unfortunately, the rather overused song that is recited in the heading of this section is starting to become somewhat of a reality. I am actually laughing at myself for getting mad at referee Craig Pawson’s performance in the Chelsea match. It seems incomparable in relation to the last two matches!
“It happened too early” was a phrase I kept hearing last night after Campbell was tripped in the penalty area. This is wrong on a variety of levels. Firstly, that should never be the case anyway. Referees are there to do a job. I do not turn up to work in the morning and tell my boss that I refuse to answer him/her for the first few minutes that I am there when he asks me a question! If there is a decision to make in the first twenty seconds then make it. Don’t bottle it.
Secondly, would it have actually made a difference if it did happen later in the game? Evidence would suggest not. Look at the Zaha trip in the West Brom game. That was later on in the game and it was not awarded.
The fact of that matter is we are now, in the last 2 games, 4 points worse off than we should be because of incompetent referees.
If these decisions had come in games against Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool etc… I would had shrugged. Big teams get the rub of the green. What concerns me, however, is that these decision have come against teams that are, in the grand scheme of things, nobody. If the referee is not giving us decisions against these teams then we are doomed.
Now one must ask themselves; why are we not getting these decisions?
The answer is Neil Warnock.
And this is one reason of many reasons (this is where it is about to get hard for me) that Neil Warnock has to go.
Why is this hard for me? Well, my constant reader will know that calling for managers heads, needlessly slating of players at the slightest mistake etc… is not me. I will always ask for better if I expect it from a particular individual but I am never one to be so forthright with calling for a manager to be sacked.
We could have quite easily had a maximum 6 points from the last two games if refereeing decisions had gone our way. They did not and will continue to not go our way as long as he is in charge. Referees have no respect for him. Tony Pulis’ wrath was feared by referees, Warnock’s is laughed at. But as I said, this is but one of many reasons.
The astute amongst you will be asking; if we could have had two wins from the last two but for unfortunate circumstances, then surely the manager is doing something right? Well, not for me. Anything good that has happened under Warnock has been in spite of his “tactics”.
We won 3-2 at Everton because they showed us no respect for the second season running. They played advanced wing backs and ignored the threat of Puncheon and Bolasie and we made them pay, just like we did last season. None of Warnock doing here.
Leicester were abject when they came to Selhurst Park and it was like taking candy from a baby. But even then we made hard work of it.
The first half against West Brom saw us at our counterattacking best. Controlling the game without the ball and hitting them with pace down the flanks on the break. This is not Warnock’s doing, we were playing like this under Pulis. The difference between Pulis and Warnock, however, was highlighted in the second half of the West Brom game.
Pulis would have reacted to the Anichebe substitution that ultimately earned West Brom a point. Warnock stood back and watched it happen. Warnock has next to no ability to be able to think on his feet and this is completely unacceptable as a manager at any level.
Last night was another tactical catastrophe. Sunderland allowed us to have the ball and this is the first time that we have had over 50% possession since we have been back in the Premier League if memory serves me correctly and Warnock had no idea how to adapt to it.
The lack of support for Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha was embarrassing. Getting the ball wide was the right thing to do but it often ended with the wingers having to beat two or more men. If they did manage to beat their man they were crossing to two men in a box full of Sunderland players. Joe Ledley and Mile Jedinak sat too deep and the full backs did not support enough. This enabled Sunderland to apply high pressure and cause mistakes that led to two of their goals.
Then we spent the last twenty minutes kicking the ball at the heads of Brown and O’Shea. They are slow, they both turn like a ten tonne truck. Bring Bolasie or Zaha central and let them run at them and see what happens. Or not if you’re Warnock; ‘Pump the ball at their head lads. Playing to their strengths will definitely wear them down!’
In my eyes it is quite simple. If this man is in charge in January, we are down.
There will be the people who will say; “well who is there to replace him?”
At this stage, anyone. Me. You. The f**cking groundsman… ok, maybe not the groundsman who has managed to produce the worst pitch since Wimbledon played here.
On a serious note. Tony Popovic has just won the Asian Champions League. He is young and hungry. He understands the club. He has Premier League experience. I’d rather fail at this point by showing some ambition than fail regardless by leaving this dinosaur in charge.
It was a horrible appointment. We all knew it. We can now all see it. Tactically inept, respected by no officials, oblivious to what he is watching by constantly suggesting that we are playing well when we are not.
The las time we were this awful was at home to Fulham last season and we all know what happened after that match. Knee jerk this is not. Warnock Out.
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
Flashes of his old self were evident. He was beating players at will at points and put in a great shift despite the lack of support around him. Julian Speroni runs him a close second with two outstanding saves.
Up Next: Manchester United
My mother always says; “if you have nothing positive to say then say nothing at all.”
I only hope that I am proven wrong. But hope is all that I have at the moment.
But as always: Come on you Palace!