FeaturesPalace In Perspective

Burn After Reading

My school friend Matthew is just back from the trip of a lifetime.

His journey began just after Christmas, and after flying to Cape Town, he has sailed South, stopping off at the Falkland Islands, before heading off to see what the good people at the Antarctic Survey get up to.

Now that he has returned, clearly a cue for a gag about how Palace have got on in his absence.

Well, despite being educated within a few miles of Selhurst Park, he never showed interest in Palace or any other football club. And throughout his trip he was tweeting like mad, sharing the most amazing pictures of icebergs, penguins, and incredible landscapes.

So if he had wanted to keep up with Palace’s dismal run he could have done.

For the last two months he has been a colder, but happier and luckier man than us Palace fans.

The fruit of his labours came in a programme that was broadcast at 1:30pm yesterday (Sunday) on Radio 4. I did not listen and I cannot imagine anyone reading this did. I will catch up on iPlayer once I have finished here. Anyway, back to the Palace.

Unlike my friend Matthew, you know the drill, and how things have gone all a little pear-shaped.

We were sixth at Christmas, and sixteenth now. Pardew, no longer the returning hero is now under pressure, as the apparent curse of the second season syndrome has struck once again.

We Palace fans have heard the excuses too. We have been unlucky with injuries to key players, highlighting a lack of depth to the squad.

Then there is the outside view, telling us what they think of us.

The usual South London wide boy stuff, and the ‘told you so’, wagging of finger stuff … telling us that the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor was an act of desperation, as we hoped he could provide a few extra goals via charisma and the last trappings of undoubted skill. Insiders and outsiders alike are saying one thing – it has all gone horribly horribly wrong.

I am a getting a little bit worried, but I still think this has been a good season with the potential to be a great one.

In fact, I am firmly of the belief that this season has been a typical one.

It is like Iain Dowie’s first season in charge in 2003/04, when we were threatened with relegation from the Championship at Christmas, then ended up winning the play-offs.

This run is just Palace being Palace. We are back in familiar territory, either scrapping to stay up, or fighting for a play-off place.

The thing that has spooked us is that this season we have decided to do things in a different order – middle order comfort first, relegation dog-fight next.

Let us not forget that in the meantime we have embarked on one of the best cup runs in the club’s history, with three pretty impressive wins over Southampton, Stoke and Spurs. A win this Friday night, in front of the masses who would rather see EastEnders, would take us to the cup semi-finals, and a game at Wembley that cannot be any harder than the one at Tottenham away was.

I promise you we will go nuts if and when we head to Wembley.

And for all Palace’s recent incompetence/appallingly bad luck (delete as appropriate), I am convinced we are not going down. We have thirty-three points, albeit months after we got to thirty points. We are probably only a few points away from safety.

And let us remember what we are up against now (and I know it is not the clubs headed for next season’s Europa League).

Aston Villa have given up, Newcastle are desperate, Norwich are very poor and Sunderland are a disgrace.  Surely, three of those four will go down.  It is not a strong league this year.

We are two wins away from this season turning back into a good one – beating Reading in the cup quarter-final then following that up with a win over little known East Midlands battlers Leicester City the week after. If we lose on Friday, I might begin to worry.  My optimism and long-held theories about Palace being Palace will start to be challenged. I’ll ask you to forget I ever wrote this article.

My simple instructions will be:

Burn after Reading. Instead read my friend Matthew’s article about his trip.  Front page of the BBC website

The boy done great.


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Neil Carter

Neil Carter

Neil went to his first Palace game in 1975 and Palace won! He was at 'that' Burnley game in 1979, 'that' semi-final at Villa Park and Wembley for 'Super Kev' in 2013. He also went to 'that' 5-0 home defeat against Wimbledon but never lost faith.

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