Burnley 1-0 Palace

Wood (3)
Sun 10th September 2017
Turf Moor

Crystal Palace did all but score in a dominant display at Turf Moor as the Eagles set a new Premier League record – becoming the first team to lose the opening four games without scoring a goal since 1924. Not content with just the one Premier League record, the board have since sacked Frank de Boer after just 4 games in charge, shattering the previous record of 7 games.

Going into the game it was firmly believed that the former Ajax and Inter man would need a win to save his job. Evidence now suggests that a win, that even Sean Dyche said Palace deserved, may not have been enough. Reports pin all the blame at the door of Frank, but the one-sided nature of these reports means that they might need to be taken with a pinch of salt (I’ll get into that below).

I don’t think that a single person is saying that we did not deserve, at the very least, a point against Burnley. Part of me did think that it is easy to look good against a team that shows no ambition and is happy to sit on an early 1-0 score, however, Dyche’s comments after the game about Burnley "not being able to get anything going” suggests that Burnley’s seeming lack of ambition in the match was entirely down to the way that we played – unless, of course, Dyche was angle shooting for the job.

With just footballing evidence in front of us, we witnessed a Palace team playing four at the back, predominantly down the flanks and even with a youth team player making his first team debut. If that doesn’t tick most of the Crystal Palace boxes, I am not sure what does. Sure, there were some backward passes in there, one particularly bad one, but that was also mixed in with some genuinely good football. What I saw was de Boer’s methods starting to sink in and a performance that probably deserved a comfortable 3-0 win. All with our two best players missing through injury. Although I find myself questioning whether the players started bothering against Burnley as they knew that they had finally done enough to get rid of him. More on the spoilt brats in our squad later.

Of course, the cold hard fact is we are still winless and have not scored a goal and this is a “results business” after all. But four games? Really? There must be more to this than just results on the field.

Forgive me, but I am going to have to mention an article from a horrible newspaper. Neil Ashton, Palace fan and Sports Editor of the Sun, has seemingly lifted the lid on what the training ground was like under Frank de Boer. The article opens with:

“De Boer, the great Frank de Boer, really did believe the world revolved around him.”

I mean, get off the fence Neil and let us know how you really feel!

I am, when it comes to football, inherently cynical. I think that it was around my 17th year of supporting Palace that this affliction occurred. Years of beatings apparently took their toll. As a result, when I read an opening line like that, from a man that could only find this out by talking to people close to the situation, I think – you sound like a mouthpiece for the board.

See, I told you that I was cynical.

I could be way off the mark. I don’t know Neil, I don’t have anything against him, other than the fact that he writes for that vile rag, and he might have written his piece with all the sincerity in the world:

“De Boer, 47, has been a disaster for Palace.

“They will have to pick up the pieces now, putting these traumatised players back together after the Dutch coach was fired in a meeting with Parish today.”

“He has shattered the confidence of some honest Palace players - Martin Kelly and Joel Ward among them - because of his failure to show any empathy.”

Look at the use of the language. “Traumatised.” “Honest.” I don’t care how “honest” Kelly and Ward are. They have been, excuse my French, fucking diabolical for the best part of 18 months. I feel traumatised every time I see an attacker run at them.

“When he [Ward] did play there for the first time, just days after being told he was up for sale, Ward was all over the shop against Huddersfield on the opening weekend.”

Ashton appears to be suggesting that de Boer’s behaviour resulted in a poor performance from Joel Ward. Ward has been all over the place for pushing two seasons. “Honest” is what someone needed to be with Wardy ages ago. Case in point being Ward’s performance at Burnley – the best he has put in in yonks.

The article is so fully tilted against de Boer, I just cannot take it seriously:

“The Dutchman was marked out early on by the Palace players when he started showing off the skills that earned him 112 caps for Holland during a glorious career.

“De Boer would pick balls out of the sky, swivel on the spot and then ping one into the top corner in front of the Palace squad.

“It was unnecessary and smacked of arrogance.”

So unnecessary that the Club Social Media team posted several videos of the wizardry that de Boer still possesses despite being long retired.

I am not saying that none of it is true. He probably is arrogant. He probably is blunt. He is probably still better than Kelly and Ward. He did confuse players with his tactics.

I do not say this lightly.

So. Fucking. What?

With each manager that comes and goes, our squad of players sounds more and more like a bunch of spoilt little brats. “Mr. Chairman, the bad man told me that I am shit.” You have been shit. If you’re not shit, prove him wrong. Learn from him. If you can’t? Leave. Your agent will be delighted to find you a move and take a cut of the transfer fee.

We all knew that having a squad littered with prima donna’s would eventually be a problem. We are not the team that was promoted and battled to stay in the division five years ago. We are now a team full of players earning a lot of money who don’t like to be told how it is. The togetherness has gone. Player power is ruling the roost because they have the chairman in their pocket.

Once upon a time, the players having the Chairman’s ear was a good thing as there were few if any, ulterior motives. Now the players appear to have played a big part in the sacking of yet another manager – maybe Steve needs to distance himself from the players. Specifically, the man whose initials make up a big bra size.

Just because de Boer is supposedly “arrogant”, “a weirdo” and “difficult to get on with”, this does not mean that the players shouldn’t still be putting in an effort. I doubt that a single person reading this has liked every manager they have worked for. Our players seem to want to only bother under very specific conditions. I’m sorry, but that is wrong.

From everything I have read and heard, de Boer had to go. Relationships have clearly broken down across the entire piece and it would be stupid to keep him in the role.

It is the breakdown in relationships that I have multiple issues with.

What is going over and over in my mind is the question: how on Earth did Frank de Boer get the job? He is so clearly an incredibly bad fit. Poor man management and too blunt when being brought in to manage a squad that needs an arm around most of them? A man that wants to deploy advanced tactics with players that failed to grasp Pardew’s advanced tactics, that were undoubtedly light years behind de Boer’s?

Perhaps the most telling part of Ashton’s article being fed to him by the Club was this:

“Parish accepts he made a mistake appointing the Dutchman, taking his eye off the ball when they sifted through a shortlist of 37 candidates to succeed Sam Allardyce.

Palace’s chairman tired of the process, the endless hours interviewing potential managers as they searched for the right man.”

Ashton doesn’t challenge Parish in the slightest here. How can a serious reporter write that and then not question why Parish has failed so spectacularly at his most important job of the summer? How can you meet a man several times and not pick up on him being “arrogant” or “a bit of a weirdo”?

I am sorry for the ardent Parish fans out there – but this is totally unforgivable.

Go to work next week and mess up your most important job and see where it gets you.

Let’s look at Parish’s managerial appointments:

  • Burley = Awful.
  • Freedman = Good, but by default due to Eddie Howe staying at Burnley. He then lost Freedman when he had forged a team that was ripping up the Championship.
  • Holloway = Got the job done, just about. Then failed spectacularly.
  • Pulis = Excellent, but Parish couldn’t keep hold of him.
  • Warnock = A joke, even under the circumstances.
  • Pardew = Good, but Parish didn’t pull the trigger when he needed to because he was too personally involved with Pardew.
  • Allardyce = Good, but Parish couldn’t keep hold of him.
  • De Boer = statistically the worst manager in the history of the Club and the Premier League.

Parish has rarely nailed it and when he has, he has failed to keep hold of them. I feel harsh saying that, but I think it is true. Maybe it is time for Parish to relinquish this responsibility of selecting a manager?

That being said, it is clear that Roy Hodgson will be our new manager and unlike a majority of Palace fans, I am not against the appointment of the former England manager. I find it kind of strange that so many people are against it. When he has managed Clubs of a similar size to Palace and in a similar position, he has thrived. He took Fulham to the Europa League Final for crying out loud!

We can only hope that in the process of interviewing Roy Hodgson that Steve Parish has clarified that he is hands on and has an opinion on how the team should play. Evidence points to Parish being extremely interfering and I do not want another manager in charge who is going to get tired of it.

For those that read that previous paragraph and thinks that I am wrong for calling out Parish on being interfering – you need to realise the reality of the situation. David Ornstein of the BBC perhaps gave the most balanced take on the sacking of de Boer:

"Among the reasons for Palace’s dissatisfaction were: De Boer’s apparent diversion from a number of agreements reached when he signed, such as the team’s formation; the squad’s struggles to adapt to the style of play he tried to implement; poor feedback on planning, methods, sessions and atmosphere at the training ground; his use of and relationship with certain players, such as Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly, Joel Ward, Jairo Riedewald and Lee Chung-yong; and a perceived lack of input on transfer activity.

"De Boer, meanwhile, is understood to have been deeply unhappy with factors including: the pre-season schedule organised before his arrival; the involvement of Parish in first-team matters and the delay in signing Mamadou Sakho."

“The involvement of Parish in first-team matters” jumps off the page. This shouldn’t be a problem if all parties are fully aware of what they are signing up for. Roy Hodgson cannot join thinking that once he has his feet under the table he can change Parish’s ways, as it looks like de Boer did. Whether Parish should be so hands on or not is something that I do not have the energy to get into.

It may come across that I am out to get Parish in this article, but I really am not. I am not his biggest fan, nor am I his biggest critic. I think that he does some things exceptionally well and I think that he is left wanting in other areas. That is OK. He is, after all, only human. My problem here is that he has made a huge mistake in employing a man that had a 0% chance to succeed and then proceeded in throwing him under the bus in an attempt to divert any blame away from himself.

Parish said, “If Frank fails, I fail” shortly after the Dutchman was employed. So, put your hands up and say that you failed. Don’t feed the papers with loads of dirt on de Boer. Don’t go onto to Twitter and start calling out fans while employing diversionary tactics to highlight all the good things you have done to distract from the bad. You have done many good things for Palace, we are aware. But here, you screwed up. It is all on you. Take it on the chin and move on.

Oh, look, a video of Wilf running again. 20 minutes after the manager has been sacked.


Did you find this Match Report interesting?

Tweet us your comments

Michael Oliver

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Frank de Boer


Opposition Manager: 
Sean Dyche