The Eagle Speaks

Yet again, a difficult article to write this week with Palace still in the wilderness without a manager to guide us through the obstacles ahead.

It has been very difficult to keep up with the on-going speculation surrounding the vacant position at the club as well as the bookmakers odds which go up and down like the lingerie owned by a lady of the night.

At the time of writing, further hopes have been quashed with the expectation of an announcement of the new man in charge.  This day came and went without even a glimmer of an announcement from the club.

Both Dan ‘the man’ Petrescu and Tony Pulis were again pitted as hot favourites to secure the position along with the not so hot “favourite” Iain Dowie who probably expressed an interest after wanting to relocate to be nearer to his family in the Charlton area.  To be honest, like the transfer window, it has all become rather dull and tiresome so other than keeping an eye out for an announcement it has been much easier to ignore the whole thing until there is some proper factual news on the subject.

On a positive note, the club has secured the services of Iain Moody and the latest news from Steve Browett is that Palace would like to keep Keith Millen as part of the new management set-up which is great news.

Keith Millen must surely be a fixture in the new set-up as he is South London born and bred, had a period at the club in his younger years and has strong ties in the area.  He has also impressed since coming back to the club and was instrumental in the spirited performance that gained us a point against Everton.  Whilst we are on the subject, he was also on the touch-line earlier in the season when Holloway was serving his ban for telling the truth about the referee and penalty decision against Tottenham.

Millen can also provide a level of stability during these uncertain times and definitely until a new manager is appointed at the very least.  He has an existing relationship with the squad members and would surely provide a good level of familiarity to the playing staff which would be a positive presence in the dressing room.

Moving on, the international break has been just as dull as the managerial saga.  Another pointless game against Chile at Wembley and a loss that proved nothing other than England are pretty poor and inconsistent and only seem to be okay if we put our best eleven out which we all knew before the game.  

It was another unnecessary distraction from the Premier League season when the games are as rare as rocking horse shite anyway at the best of times.

Despite some trying to keep our minds off the subject and after a short lapse with the paragraph above, we move back to the managerial situation again as there isn’t a great deal else of any newsworthy consideration currently.

The positives from the managerial situation are that the board appear from the outside to be taking their time.  Who knows if this is because we have been unsuccessful with our targets or whether we are indeed simply taking our time.  The main thing is that when the appointment is made it needs to be the right one, a forward thinking one and one that has been made for the long-term.  What is the rush anyway?  It would be better to show some patience and keep Millen as the interim manager until we find the perfect candidate for the role perhaps and once all the hype has died down.

When the new man does finally arrive it would be great to see a full review of what we have in place and what we need to target to strengthen in the January transfer window.  Within reason, the main targets need to be around the spine of the team in my humble opinion.

If our intention as a club is to stay in the Premier League then we should perhaps get one more quality forward, even if it is on loan.  I for one would love to see somebody like Jermaine Defoe at Palace as for some very, very strange reason he is unable to get a start with Tottenham which must put him a bit further out of the visibility of Roy Hodgson in the run up to the World Cup.  Although he was only on the pitch for a short period against us back in August, his class was apparent and his movement was amongst some of the best that I have witnessed this season (only topped by Michu). 

Not to forget, we have Glenn coming back but he will take time to get up to speed and another player on loan would focus the minds of the forwards and add further competition for places and ultimately giving us more options.

The middle of the park is good with Jedi and A.N.Other ruling the roost such as KJ and the consistently impressive O’Keefe.

Now we go to where everybody can see that we have an issue. Centre back.

Whilst the current guys are doing okay in the main, the position lacks a commander. A man that puts his life on the line consistently every week (the word “consistently” is key in that sentence). A player that you would like to be in the trenches next to you if a war suddenly broke out with their death or glory attitude.

To my mind, this is something that has been lacking for some time at Palace.  Having given this further consideration, then maybe my hopes are too high as I cannot think of many in the modern game that fit this job specification.  At the very least, we could do with more strength in depth for this position as it is severely lacking  and one or two additions to the very impressive Ward and Moxey in the back four would certainly make a difference.

We now move onto the keeper.  Is it time to be highly controversial to many and consider whether it is time to bring in another top quality keeper to either replace or put more pressure on Speroni.  Based on what we have currently and the amount of match time at this level, Speroni looks as though he may be the safe bet for the number one shirt for years to come. But, is he the right man?

Speroni is an awesome shot-stopper on his day but does he have the attributes to continue as our number one when the new boss arrives and does this need to be reviewed or even changed? 

Although Speroni is as good as many in this league, a proper Palace legend (and I don’t use that word lightly). As a firm fans favourite his decision making at times is not good when coming for crosses and he often does not look like a safe pair of hands in this situation.  Again, in this position we need another commander type of personality that has confidence in the two men directly in front of him and safe in the knowledge that they are confident with him in return.  A keeper that is decisive and comes out for crosses with confidence and when he bellows “keeper’s ball” the attackers as well as our own centre backs quake in their boots through fear of being wiped out and possibly injured.

Once he has the ball safely in his hands, his distribution is not always that great either.  Many, many times a long kick up the field comes back to him very quickly when often it looks easier to perhaps go with the shorter option and pass, throw or roll the ball out to one of the defenders or midfielders and try and retain possession.  It is partly unfair to place the burden on this on the shoulders of Speroni alone as when the ball in punted up the field we do not hold the ball up well. Often we do not have a runner off the target man and then lose possession seconds after it has left Speroni’s boot or hands.

For this week, this is one to ponder on perhaps and not as a slur to Julian but from a realistic view-point around the needs of the club going forward.

Finally, the boredom of this week was actually topped off with something very special for me in the shape of a follow from @KennySansom1. This may not be that exciting to some but the man is my all-time favourite Palace player and somebody that I admired greatly as a kid playing football (as a right footed left back) for Southborough Junior school and turning up for practice in my white with red and blue sash Admiral branded kit emblazoned with the number three (sewn on by my Mum – old style). 

If you do not follow Kenny then definitely take the time to give this Palace legend a follow.  He is a really top bloke and was arguably the best left back to have ever played for England.

Article written by Paul Price

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