Crystal Palace Should Aspire To Replicate Swansea's Model
There is no more appropriate side to finish the season against than Swansea. As a club they have proved that with sensible management, which allows the supporters a say in the running of the affairs, you can build a successful team without having to spend massive amounts of money. Having come up through the Play-Offs in 2011 they have grown into an established Premier League team, playing decent football and have a healthy future. Considering they nearly went out of the Football League just over ten years ago this has been a remarkable transformation.
Swansea serve as the perfect role model for Palace and whilst we never quite reached the depths of being relegated to the Conference, we did have our own meltdowns, having been in administration twice over the same period. So with a second successive mid-table finish secured, it is time to take stock and appreciate just how far the club has come since those dark days. With the club declaring a healthy profit for the last financial year, a manager in place who oozes confidence and has the canny knack of picking up points, plus a settled squad that regularly punches above its weight the turnaround in the space of five years is incredible.
Last weekend’s win at Steven Gerrard’s leaving party was a testament to the character and skill of the team. After four successive defeats, but with safety guaranteed, it would have been easy just to roll over and allow Liverpool the chance to give their captain a fitting tribute. Not only did they not do that despite giving away a sloppy goal midway through the first half but also they went on to dominate the match and could have won more comfortably as they carved out chance after chance. Having matched the result of the home league game this was one of the most satisfying doubles of the season, actually quite possibly any season.
Apart from the sparkling form of Puncheon, Bolasie and Zaha the most interesting aspect of the match was seeing Wayne Hennessey making his full Premier League debut. Julian Speroni is rightly revered at Selhurst as he enters his eleventh year at the club. He has been through the pain and torment alluded to earlier in this piece and has stayed steadfastly loyal to the cause. He is still an excellent keeper and thoroughly deserves to have his contract extended and his testimonial on Tuesday. But his main weakness, which was illustrated last Saturday, is his distribution. Whereas Hennessey’s kicks relieved pressure and put us on the front foot, Jules’ do not and never will. Maybe this is harsh but it could be just a glimpse at what the future holds. Let us never forget the past and be grateful to a man who demands the utmost respect and love.
Richard’s latest book on the history of the Play-Offs, “The Agony & The Ecstasy” is now out and available as a limited hardback edition and an e-Book through www.ockleybooks.co.uk. It will be more widely available by the start of next season.
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