Palace 1-2 Swansea
Swansea City completed the double of Crystal Palace thanks to a late Angel Rangel goal at Selhurst Park. Wilfried Zaha had levelled for the hosts on 83 minutes with a wonderful improvised effort to cancel out Alfie Mawson’s first half header.
40% of the Swans points earned this season have come against the Eagles. FORTY PERCENT! They have won just three times in their previous 19 matches, and two of those are against Palace. Meanwhile, 30% of their goals have come against Wayne Hennessey. The argument that Swansea are the worst team in the Premier League is a valid one, yet they have been able to take 6 points from us – anyone still think that we are “too good to go down?”
Sam Allardyce failed to win one of his first three games as the Manager of a new Club for the first time since he took over Bolton, back in October of 1999. On taking the reins in South London, Allardyce suggested that this would be the “easiest” of survival jobs that he has taken on – he might need to re-evaluate based on his team’s performance in this one. After the game, I heard many fans talking about the first half being the worst first half performance in over a decade, and it is hard to disagree. Bob Bradley said that Swansea lacked fighters within their ranks before being fired from the Welsh outfit, yet Paul Clement’s Swansea wiped the floor with the Eagles when it came to fight, commitment and, let’s face it, playing football.
The lack of a reaction from the Palace players to the appointment of the new manager is worrying. It is no secret that I am not a fan of the Allardyce appointment, but I expected an increase in desire and application. Instead, the players look less bothered than they did in the days leading up to the Alan Pardew dismissal. Sure, it is still very early days for the new manager, but Allardyce needs to add some leaders to that starting eleven. Everyone has banged on about it over and again, but allowing Mile Jedinak to leave looks more ridiculous by the match. The crowd made this clear last night by singing his name. If we do not purchase a leader in the idle of the park this month, we might as well pack up now and tell the coach driver to start learning the routes to Burton and Rochdale.
The Mile Jedinak song was not the only song the Palace fans sang. As the players trudged off at half-time, the usual encouragement from the Holmesdale was replaced by the deafening chorus of “what the f***ing hell was that?” I know that times are rough - I joined in.
Whenever my thoughts have turned to Palace in the past two months, misery has washed over me. Last night was supposed to be the night that we started on the road to recovery but instead saw us redefine the meaning of rock bottom. I have genuinely never felt this low as a Palace fan. I tweeted this a couple of days ago, and people thought it was hilarious that I should say this when I have lived through two administrations. For me, the two administrations were my favourite times as a Palace fan. While they were trying times, the unity around the Club, all the way from the programme sellers to the players on the pitch, was special. The fight in the stands and on the pitch were inspiring and made for, somewhat perversely, enjoyable experiences. Now, I am having to talk myself into going – and I nearly failed when I opened my front door and felt the cold yesterday. My fear was that I was going to freeze my arse off while watching a large majority of my team not give a shit. My fears were realised.
James Tomkins is the only player that comes out of that first half unscathed. He looked like the only player that gave a single shit. This is definitely harsh on Wilf, isolated out on the left, while Andros Townsend stunk up the right. Zaha has been arguably the best player in the league on the right this season, but Allardyce has come in and left to rot out on the left. People will accuse me of “having an agenda” for criticising Allardyce so early, but putting Wilf out on the left is nothing short of negligent – especially when the reason for it is to make way for Townsend, who is making a run at being the worst big money Palace signing since Gareth Taylor. I am quite sure that I will burst a blood vessel if Allardyce plays Townsend ahead of Zaha on the right for one more second this season.
The second-half highlighted the plight that Pardew has left behind. Championship players entering the fray in a must win match that we are losing. What made this situation even more depressing was that they actually put in the effort. Fraizer Campbell and Bakary Sako’s performances cannot be faulted. Sure their ability is limited, but the effort they put in made things happen and nearly got us what would have been an underserved point from the match.
On the weekend, we will head to Bolton and Allardyce will do his best to lose the match. A second string eleven will be deployed and the FA Cup, which has been the only shining light in the last 12 months, will be sacrificed. The most annoying thing about that fact is that many fans will drop the bullshit line of “we don’t need the distraction.” Bollocks, I need the distraction, because I am at a loss to keep justifying why I turn up. I do not recognise the Club as the one that I have supported my entire life. The players are, in the main, overpaid primadonnas, the manager is a man that I despise, and Steve Parish’s ego has finally caught up with him. Imagine how that light show is going to look in front of a half empty stadium when Scunthorpe come to town.
I have always tried to steer clear of criticising Steve Parish. I have disliked the direction in which he has led the Club since we were promoted back in 2013, but I get why people will defend him to the hilt as, up until the past year, everything has worked out on the pitch. Now, Parish has kept Pardew in the job five months longer than he should have, sacked him at the most bizarre of times and then employed a corrupt man. The experiencing of mixing it with Tony Pulis, another corrupt man, should be too fresh in his memory to even contemplate going near someone of the sorts again. Off the pitch, I feel like it is a lost cause. We have already been sanitised by the corporate nature of the Premier League and it will only get worse with each year that we stay in the division. As a fan, I either need to adjust to supporting what we have become, vehemently protest every move away from our roots or just pack it all in and start supporting a non-League Club. I am genuinely unsure in which of the three categories I will end up in.
We came into the Premier League with a team of players that were playing for the badge, a thriving academy and a sense of unity between the fans and players. Now, we a team of journeymen millionaires, players that tell our fans to “f**k off” and a broken youth system. With Allardyce in charge, I struggle to see a return to the fundamentals of why I support Palace.
Some will suggest coincidence, but the day it all went wrong was the day that the American investment was signed off and Stephen Browett’s role in the Club was greatly diminished. Parish might support Crystal Palace, but Browett is a fan. He is one of us and without his voice we will continue to head in the wrong direction. When the investment was announced I tweeted, “I would be denying my Crystal Palace roots if I didn’t fear that this investment has a future administration written all over it.” Relegation this season and I have no doubt that I will be proved right. The American’s will pull out, 90% of the playing staff will leave and replaced with second rate players on high wages, promotion will not follow and we will be in a worse position than in 2010 within five years.
I want Crystal Palace to be successful, with all of my heart. But, I want it done in the right way. I don’t want the Club to be on the brink of employing people like Malkay Mackay, going into court battles with Tony Pulis and giving the corrupt Sam Allardyce a second chance. I want the players to care. I want the Club to continue looking after the fans that have backed them through thick and thin, instead of pricing them out of the seats that they have sat in for decades. I want kids from the local area to be able to look at Crystal Palace Football Club as a chance, as a way out of the potential pitfalls that living in South London comes with. In all probability, this is too much to ask – and I hate it.
I appear to have gone off on a rant.
The next six weeks are huge for our Club. Out of nowhere, we need to attract the right players to the Club and pick up win after win to give ourselves a chance of surviving. If everything doesn’t go perfectly over this period, we genuinely need to start preparing for the unthinkable of playing in the division below Brighton.
There was one shining light. How about that goal from Wilf? He must be delighted that he gets to leave the other ten losers behind for a few weeks.