It’s very difficult to take solace from anything about our performances over the last 14 months, it’s been a miserable time to be a Palace fan.
Watching our demise can be likened to Aston Villa fans watching their team last season, and our awful performances have merited the few points that we have. All the statistics point to impending relegation, and it’s getting harder and harder to find any positives from the season.
There are some, it seems, would welcome relegation with open arms. To those, the question I put to you though is this – could we seriously guarantee that we’d perform well in the Championship?
Palace fans know best the difficulties of life in the Championship, the rigorous schedule, the dogged determination of smaller teams and the pressure on individuals to perform week in week out. Look at Villa this season, they’re not far off the relegation zone, Norwich City are struggling to make the play offs, former Premier League sides like Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers are lurking in the relegation zone.
It’s a terrifying prospect but the way we’re playing we could really struggle, especially as we will no longer be the underdog.
The underdog theory, which we played to our advantage for many years, is my reason for our downfall. The start of this horrific run of form came after a consistent period of success and good results, this gave us a false sense of confidence, we let our guard down. Once we weren’t the underdog, we lost our advantage. We all remember the play offs, we were written off on all counts, we won through, as soon as people put us in a position of power, we let it get to our heads and now we are paying the price.
An example I am going to give is Burton Albion. This is a club I have followed for some time since I worked in Burton-Upon-Trent for a year. Six years ago they were playing in the Conference, now they are in the Championship, but they have the budget, squad and infrastructure from those lower leagues.
They are the definition of ‘underdogs’, yet they are pulling off scalps and results which increasingly make it look like they are going to stay up. That underdog factor drives those Burton players to succeed, the intrinsic motivation to impress, despite knowing you’re not as good as your competition, is what keeps the momentum going. This is the feeling we need our Palace players to have, we need them to desire to impress, because before the fantastic win at home to Boro yesterday, it looked like they were all just playing for their pay packet.
I’m part of the group of fans that feels that going down isn’t the end of the world. Maybe we need a refresh, with players brought in that provide us with that underdog factor again, instead of an ego. I enjoyed supporting Palace in the Championship, the atmosphere was feisty and the players had passion. I guarantee, we’d enjoy games more as fans in the Championship. However, I am fully aware of the securities of the Premier League, financially and in terms of generating a diverse global fanbase, something that is so critical to this club, and it’d be so hard to turn our backs on all of this.
In recent weeks, there has been some controversy over Palace’s global appeal, with some fan groups criticising the club for encouraging overseas fans to visit Selhurst for a game. This is such a moronic and short sighted view, the amount of revenue generate from overseas fans could help keep our club financially stable in years to come, to be critical of something so trivial really is an own goal. Let’s hope that those views change pretty swiftly, the last thing we need in a relegation battle is a divided fan base.
Of course, you will notice that most of this article was writtern before the win against Boro but the fact remains, we need to stay united, we need to believe, we need to support. There is nothing more we can do as fans other than being the twelfth man. Let’s continue to fill that role with pride as we always do.
In a week when the British music industry paid tribute to the legendary George Michael, heeding the late musicians lyrics could not be more apt.