Why Crystal Palace And Liverpool Won't Produce ‘Crystanbul 2’
The mighty Liverpool are next up at Selhurst. I use the word ‘mighty’ advisedly as I am of an age that remembers vividly how the club used to dominate the English, and European, football landscape for over a decade.
And for those of a younger generation, last season Liverpool were pretty damned good, even mighty perhaps and it was refreshing to see another club threaten to break the Manchester / London stranglehold on the Premier League title. It was also a pleasant surprise/ unique experience for Palace fans to survive a season in the Premier League.
Arguably, both clubs were vying for the title of the best performing teams of last season but that was then and this is now. Liverpool without Suarez are a pale imitation of Rodgers’ buccaneers whist post-Pulis Palace are in danger of reverting to type and disappearing through the trapdoor yet again.
It does seem very odd how one player can make such a big difference but the Reds have certainly lost that attacking verve and Mario Balotelli’s mercurial skills seem not to be the answer. The loss of Daniel Sturridge to injury is unfortunate timing and it has clearly left them with a gap to fill.
Neil Warnock has been in charge of Palace for a couple of months now but there is a general dissatisfaction amongst the fans that we seemed to be going backwards and as a result, downwards.
Part of that discontent revolves around Joel Ward who has been kept at left-back whilst showing increasing uncertainty in the role. Ward was first moved there last season with Pulis and seemed to take to the idea like a duck to water but recently he has resembled a fish out of water and a waste of a talented player. His reluctance to sign a new contract has been linked to his unease at having to continue to play at left-back and so the general murmurs of disenchantment grow.
With two unhappy and unsettled camps, we probably cannot expect a repeat of May’s electrifying 3-3 thriller or ‘Crystanbul’ as it became known locally. If Palace are to get anything out of their admittedly weakened opposition they do need to recover some of the verve and spirit they showed six months ago otherwise it could be a long, cold and hard winter at the end of which we could well be on the look out for yet another manager.
Finally, I would like to pay a special tribute to Joyce True, who died this week aged 93. Known as Joyce the Voice she was responsible for one of my earliest memories at Selhurst as her loud exhortations filled the air back in the 1960s. Her loyalty and passion for Palace was relentless and she certainly lived up to her name, a true club legend whom we are unlikely to see the like of ever again. RIP Joyce.
Richard’s first book The A-Z of Football Hates, the perfect stocking filler, is available online and through most bookshops.