Palace 0-1 Saints

Davis (6)
Sat 16th September 2017
Selhurst Park

My match reports have become more like a state of the nation address. With each passing match, there seems to be so much more to talk about than just the ninety minutes. Knowing that Steve Parish was going to appear on Holmesdale Radio, I wanted to wait to hear that before I wrote this.

Crystal Palace became the first team in top-flight history to lose their opening five games without scoring a goal – that is 129 years. With trips to both the Manchester Clubs in the next two weeks, followed by the visit of Chelsea to Selhurst Park, the Eagles face the genuine prospect of being bottom after eight games, still having not found the back of the net.

Since returning to the Premier League, Palace have failed to score in Manchester in the League. Played eight, scored zero, conceded TWENTY. Let’s not even discuss how frequently they have been scoring this season.

Usually, none of this would bother me. I believe that our squad, although unbalanced, is more than good enough to survive in this division, but I struggled to deal with the loss on Saturday. Too many players shied away from the challenge and allowed us to whimper to yet another defeat. Like me, Roy Hodgson, if he didn’t before, must now realise the uphill task he faces in the next 33 games.

After the loss to Southampton, I tweeted that I was struggling to find a single positive and it wasn’t until today that I found a potential silver lining in the guise of “Expected Goals” stats. Expected Goals (xG) basically measure the quality of the chances that each team (or player) has and calculates how many goals you’re expected to score. If the table was decided by xG, Palace would sit in 11th place in the league. Basically, it tells us that we can consider ourselves to be very unlucky at this stage.

I’m clinging onto anything here people.

During the game, I was disheartened by the crowd. We started well and made a fair amount of noise before the Steven Davis goal changed the mood. Palace fans (not all of course) started booing and continued to boo, including decisions made on substitutions. I heard chants of “Oh Stevie Parish, what have you done?” This could have been related to sacking de Boer, employing Hodgson or even both. Once upon a time I would have instinctively known exactly what every song meant and all of its undertones. I am so lost at Selhurst Park at the moment, I can no longer say that I know for sure.

Palace fans might like to say that we are a set of fans that get behind our team no matter what. That is simply no longer the case. Sure, there are portions that do, but there are large portions that do not.

Booing Hodgson Is counterproductive and, bluntly, idiotic. The man has only been there a few days. Yes, I am as disappointed as most that he didn’t deliver the “new manager kick” that we all desperately hoped that it would, but to boo him because you have an opinion of him based on one ruined summers day last year is stupid.

The Steve Parish Interview

For Holmesdale Radio to get this interview, at this time, was a great coup. The team are all buzzing today that national newspapers are running two-page spreads based on the interview. Of course, there were some fans that would only have been content if Chris Hambling had grilled Steve Parish until he admitted that he was, in fact, the devil. The abuse that Hambo and Jel received for apparently not questioning him hard enough was nothing short of appalling.

Having been part of the Holmesdale Radio team for a couple of years now, I have witnessed first-hand the effort that the team puts into providing Crystal Palace related content for you guys. Not just any content, incredible content. Exclusive interviews, well-reasoned analysis, comedy and more. They went out of their way to secure the current Chairman of Crystal Palace and engaged him enough to speak for two solid hours about the state of our Football Club. Go and find me another podcast doing that.

Whether you believe what Parish said or not on the podcast is neither here nor there. At the end of the day, Hambo and Jel conducted the interview with respect and grew into asking some very tough questions. They are not Jeremy Paxman. They are two blokes that like watching and talking about Palace. If they didn’t ask every question you wanted to be asked in exactly the way you wanted it asked – tough. Appreciate what you got, because without them there wouldn’t have been a single thing.

How did I feel about what Parish said? A mixture of frustration and incredulity with yet an increased want to rally around and push the team to where it needs to be.

The frustrations come out of things like him saying “we took too much time [to employ a manager] and lost options.” It frustrates me as Parish always talks about learning from mistakes and this is not the first time that the employment process has taken far too long.

I was also frustrated that Parish appeared to be burying his head in the sand when it comes to criticism. He believes that it is in a minority. From what I see, it is clearly not a minority. If it is a minority that is criticising, then the minority is made up of the most ardent Crystal Palace fans that I know. Fans that travel up and down the country week in, week out. There are people that live and breathe Crystal Palace that are close to breaking point as far as Parish is concerned. He needs to realise this. From this interview, I did not get the sense that he was prepared to look above the parapets anytime soon. That is both frustrating and concerning.

I also agreed with a lot of stuff he said. “Not signing people just for the sake of it” rings true. For what it is worth, I think Niasse would have been an expensive mistake. Another Jordon Mutch if you will. Spunking £10m on him and then God knows how many more millions on wages would have been stupid. Maybe even more stupid than ending up with just one striker when the window closed.

The thoughts around bringing in Dougie Freedman as the Director of Football are well placed. He is there to help with transfers, the academy, and long-term planning for the Club.

The way that Parish answered the question; “people will feel that the investment [from the American’s] has had a detrimental effect on the Club. How would you address that?” was, quite frankly, stunning:

“I think that it is something to look back on after and not now. I wonder sometimes if, ya know, I’ve always been a believer of not having enough money, that necessity if the mother of invention and maybe, ya know, when, ya know, we sort of breathed a collective sigh of relief, ya know, and maybe when we look back on it in a years’ time maybe there were some decisions, I don’t know… maybe the dynamic changed because maybe we relaxed a little bit.”

I am not going to go through the entire interview. Listen to it below. It is long, but more than worth it.

The way the interview ended provided plenty of, if not total, closure for me:

“My message would be stick with us. Yes, mistakes have been made. But if we work through them together we might get out of it.”

He has admitted that mistakes have been made, now we have to give him a chance to fix them. To pile on is pointless at this junction. What’s done is done – it’s what happens now that is important.

After Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea, that is.

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Robert Madley

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Roy Hodgson


Opposition Manager: 
Mauricio Pellegrino