Crystal Palace Set To Prove Tony Pulis Made A Big Mistake

And we're not referring to the clothes he wears.
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And we're not referring to the clothes he wears.

Barring the most ridiculous series of results since the Football League was formed in 1888, Palace are now safe.

Having smashed through the 40 point barrier with the ruthless demolition of Sunderland last weekend only mathematical theorists can argue against a third consecutive season in the Premier League beckoning.

It is a slightly unusual, and unnerving, experience to have nothing to fret about during the run-in apart from pride and position. When the primary focus for the remainder of the season is to get into the top half of the division supporters can relax.

However, the concept of being relaxed is anathema to the majority of Eagles supporters, after all we thrive on tension and pressure. So the arrival of Tony Pulis on Saturday could not be better timed as it gives us all the perfect chance to stoke (forgive the pun) up the atmosphere and prove to the Welshman that his decision to leave the club on the eve of the season was misguided.

There are plenty of theories about the circumstances behind Pulis’ exit but what is certain is that the suddenness of it left the club in disarray and many harbour a grudge against our former manager.

So this gives the match some added meaning and much-needed spice, alongside which there is still a simmering grudge held against West Brom’s Dawson whose elbowing of Speroni in the match at the Hawthorns was considered to be a deliberate assault. Nobody does that to Jules, who is after all a club legend.

With enough sub-plots to keep Shakespeare happy, this may turn out to be a feisty encounter especially as the Baggies are still concerned with being dragged into the relegation scrap. After two home defeats to QPR and Leicester they need a few more points to keep themselves afloat.

There have been murmurings of discontent from West Brom fans about Pulis as his functional approach to survival has started to flounder and with his record of never being relegated under threat. With their confidence dented by three successive defeats being in sharp contrast to a buoyant Palace who are riding the crest of a four game winning streak.

Whilst the emergence of Murray as a reliable goal scorer at the top level has gladdened the heart, Bolasie’s quick fire hat-trick at the Stadium of Light raised a few eyebrows. The mercurial winger has not exactly been prolific, having only scored once in Premier League previously.

Pardew’s insistence on the wingers scoring more has been yet another masterstroke, with Zaha also scoring a couple in the recent good run. The stage is set for the battle of Pardew’s present against Pulis’ past.

Richard’s first book The A-Z of Football Hates is available online and in most bookshops. His second book on the history of the Play-Offs, The Agony and The Ecstasy will be out in the next few weeks.

Follow him on twitter @rcfoster