Crystal Palace: Sod's Law That Watson & Boyce Will Come Back To Haunt Us
Visiting the current FA Cup holders is a daunting and unglamorous prospect; the DW Stadium in late January is as enticing as having your bunions lanced. There is not a great deal to be excited about and the Road to Wigan Pier may well turn out to be a cul-de-sac. The right attitude is essential when facing such a tough nut and judging by the determination of the team in the previous round at The Hawthorns, Pulis and his charges are certainly up for the fight. The FA Cup may be a much-maligned competition but it is worth giving it your best – ask West Ham fans. At least the match is on Saturday at 3pm, which makes for a pleasant change.
2. FRINGE BENEFITS
The FA Cup offers some of the non-starters in the squad the chance to strut their stuff and so the likes of Gayle, Bannan and the brilliantly nicknamed Hiram Boateng aka Pencil will probably be given a chance to prove themselves once again. The appetite and hunger they showed in 3rd round stands us in good stead for another resolute performance. Also with the January transfer window only a week away from slamming shut, such players will be keen to prove that they deserve a place in the 25 for the remainder of the season. So the message is clear do well and get yourself a contract or else it is Hartlepool on loan.
3. THE LAW OF THE EX
One of the few certainties in football during these turbulent times is that any player from the opposing team that once played for your own club is destined to have a stormer, score the winning goal and generally apply huge mounts of salt into a seeping cut. Wigan happen to have both Ben Watson who lest we forget scored the only goal in last year’s FA Cup Final and was our Young Player of the Year in 2006 and Emmerson Boyce, who was our Player of the Year in 2006 (there’s a theme developing here) and then proceeded to move to Wigan as we failed to reach the Premier League. Goodness knows what havoc they are likely to wreak but it’s inevitable that this pair will damage us and only if we can douse their flames will we be in with a chance of progressing to the 5th Round.
4. WRESTLING WITH ROSLER
Uwe Rosler has only been in charge of Wigan for just over a month since his move from Brentford just before Christmas so the new broom effect has probably worn off. He did build a healthy reputation with The Bees and is currently the only German manager in England so we need to be wary of his astuteness. Rosler’s avowed ambition is to make Wigan the English equivalent of Borussia Dortmund with plenty of neat passing and “lots of attempts at goal” which sounds like a winning formula. All we have to do is to imitate Bayern Munich and the match is ours.
5. REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 1st OF NOVEMBER
There is not a great deal of history between the two clubs, indeed we have only met three times before and our only previous match at Wigan was one of the more humbling experiences of my long and tortuous support of Palace. 1st November 2003 is a date forever etched into my soul as we took on Wigan in a televised match and were well and truly humbled by a 5-0 thrashing. To make matters worse I watched the horror show unfold in Cornwall whilst with a Chelsea fan who didn’t overdo the sympathy. The game itself turned into a watershed moment as Simon Jordan who was pictured increasingly on our screens not hiding his growing exasperation and duly sacked Steve Kember. Kember was eventually replaced by Iain Dowie who took the team from the relegation zone to the Play-Offs over the last half of the season and at the expense of Wigan on the last day and ultimately on to the Premier League. So as we have now passed Wigan o the way back to the Premier League, it would be fitting to avenge that fateful day.
Follow Richard on Twitter, @rcfoster