Crystal Palace: The Five Point Plan To Choke The Canaries & Avoid Relegation
I have a queasy and slightly surreal feeling at the moment, about which I may need to seek some medical advice. Apparently it is known as MOS, ‘mildly optimistic syndrome’ and it sits with a Palace fan about as well as a cold curry the morning after the night before. Two consecutive clean sheets and four whole points have engendered a surge of wellbeing that quite frankly makes me feel sick to the stomach.
In desperation I turned to Dr. Jim Daly, part-time consultant gastroenterologist and Five Year Plan blog/fanzine supremo, for his views and he offered the following words of wisdom:
“Football fans are fickle and I'm probably the most fickle around. A couple of weeks ago I was already preparing for trips to Huddersfield and Bournemouth next season, but after the draw with Everton and win at Hull I now have this strange warm feeling in my belly that we can stay up! (It might be the porridge I just ate). Call it childlike approach to problems, call it bi-polar, WHATEVER, I think Palace have given themselves a great chance of avoiding the drop with a massively timely win at Hull and now the appointment of Pulis. The timing is perfect, he has enough weeks to assess his squad, and the team will fight for their place, before he starts spending Steve Parish's money in January.
We've been saying for a while that these next few weeks of fixtures could be massive for Palace and they've started brilliantly with a win at Hull. Norwich are having a difficult season and shipping goals, so there's no reason to suggest we can't get a result up there (and potentially put Chris Hughton out of a job, not that I'd be delighted with that because he's a nice chap).”
So on the back of the Five Year Plan here appositely is the Five Point Plan for the forthcoming fixture at Carrow Road.
1. BE SOLID – the back four deserve a massive pat on their collective backs because they have performed heroically in the last few matches. Repelling all boarders with a skill and tenacity that was not evident in the previous ten matches. When we were promoted I had nightmares about our centre backs, Delaney and Gabbidon having to face Premier League strikers with too much skill and pace and being roasted again and again but they have acquitted themselves much better than anyone dared imagine. Dean Moxey has similarly proved himself to be more adept to the higher echelons whilst Joel Ward is consistently our best player and (whisper it softly) destined for big things.
2. BE PROUD – whilst appreciating that a win away to a toothless Hull is not exactly a platform for dreaming of lower mid-table security, it is a start. It is an irony probably lost upon Hull’s despotic owner but trying to rename them as Tigers when they show as much ferocity as a week-old kitten is not a good ‘brand match’. The only true passion shown on Saturday was when the stewards were trying to wrestle the protest banner from the City fans. So much for the newly appointed City of Culture, maybe a better name might be Hull Pussies. Regardless of the weakness of the opposition the players should take pride in their gritty, determined performance and also let us not forget that we also kept the Toffees quiet as well the previous week. Confidence is a rare and elusive concept and therefore if you have the slightest semblance of belief, feed on it, use it.
3. BE LUCKY – in these last two matches Lady Fortune actually seemed to be stroking the Eagles’ plumage, having studiously ignored us beforehand. Everton were restricted to a couple of chances but on a bad luck day we would have lost 2-0. When Hull finally roused themselves after Bannan’s goal in the 81st minute, they did lay siege to the Palace goal and in added time a corner led to mass panic, a large scale game of pinball which included a last ditch goal line clearance and a shot cannoning off a post. But we survived and the old saying that ‘you deserve your luck’ was never truer. So if every player puts in as determined and gutsy a performance then we will encourage Ms. Fortune to stick around, as opposed to misfortune.
4. BE PULIS – Pulis’ sense of timing in his arrival was eventually so good that all the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the last four weeks have been swept away in a trice. He does owe, as all Palace fans acknowledge, a massive debt to Keith Millen who steadied a sinking ship, provided ballast and even had us floating on cloud nine in the euphoria of the win at the KC Stadium. It is remarkable how successful ‘interim managers’ often turn out to be. Riddled with insecurity and no long-term prospects they often produce the goods that others fail to deliver. So dear old Tony can now take over a side buoyed by recent results rather than weighed down with failure. Holloway’s departure seems to have already been consigned to ancient history and the negative pall that had gathered around Selhurst has been lifted. Under Pulis Palace will not win many plaudits for style, but they will be fitter, stronger and may well win more points. After all plaudits don’t keep you up.
5. BE HEADSTRONG – one of the most surprising positives to emerge from the Hull match was the one and only Cameron Jerome. After Chamakh’s early head injury, which was compounded by a head bandage that was so flimsy that a Boy Scout would have been drummed out of his pack for its ineffectiveness, Jerome replaced him just before half time. Nothing much changed after the substitution as Jerome did not hold the ball up and looked out of sorts. Whatever he had in his tea at half time seemed to galvanise him (maybe a special Nigella sweetener) and he began to assert his muscular presence throughout the second half. This led to the moment where he played a crisp 1-2 with Gayle sashayed into the area, with the swagger of Maradona and then crossed perfectly for Bannan to sweep home the winning goal. Now there could be an awkward moment or two for Jerome as he did roundly criticise the departing manager when Pulis left Stoke. But they both need to be big about this and patch up their differences, hopefully a bit better than Chamakh was patched up last Saturday.
This curious phenomenon of optimism also has a basis founded on a decent record against the Canaries, having only lost once in the last thirteen meetings, back in 2007. But of course this is Palace and to quote Matt Johnson: “something always goes wrong, when things are going right”. Indeed any bubble of positivity or traces of feel good factor were dispelled by the ever-charming and gracious Alan Hansen who almost choked on Match of the Day when Kevin Kilbane had the temerity to suggest that Palace have a chance of survival. Hansen shook his head with dismay at such imbecility, “No, no I have seen them a lot this season and they don’t have enough to survive.” Thanks again, Alan, that will keep our feet firmly in the brown stuff that oozes out of your mouth.