That’s all it took for the Palace players to ease the tension and take massive strides towards hard earned Premier League survival.
Relegation was never an option in their minds, they knew they had one job to do, and they went about their work with aplomb, never fluctuating, never faltering, never ceasing to try and secure those points.
In truth, Hull weren’t at the races. Their rejuvenation with Marco Silva wasn’t enough in the end and now at both ends of the table, things are pretty much wrapped up. We know who’s going down, and we know that Chelsea are the new Champions and we are close to finding out the top four finishers.
For many Palace fans, the fact it has taken until the penultimate game of the season to secure our survival is very disappointing. Yet, for the old guard, it’s kind of business as usual. Palace never were an easy club to support, a trend which looks set to continue. It must be said however, that our club shouldn’t be in that position. The squad we have is top ten quality, regardless of manager and situation, a relegation dogfight was never part of the plan.
Next season MUST be better.
Despite all the drama about Wilfried Zaha’s England future this season along with other English prospects, this year has not just been about the English players in the league, but also an important year on the management side, not just in the top division, but in other leagues as well.
It is often questioned why British managers are not in charge at any of the top sides. Paul Merson’s infamous rant about Marco Silva continues to do the rounds on social media in this regard. It is hard to see the reason why top English managers are not being considered for such high profile roles. There is some real quality out there at the moment – Garry Monk, Paul Clement, Sean Dyche, even Tony Pulis (as much as it hurts to say it) along with Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew could all do a good job at a top six team.
Just looking at the incredible job Nigel Clough did with Burton Albion in the Championship this season on a shoestring budget makes you question why he isn’t in a top job elsewhere. You only have to look at the immediate drop in form after Gary Rowett left Birmingham City to know what an incredible job he was doing there.
The bias of international experience is also reflected in the lack of high quality English youngsters coming through the system as teams in the top two tiers increasingly rely on players of other nationalities to do the business. Even Palace, who not long ago barely had any overseas players in their squad, now have very few ‘homegrown’ players to choose from and demonstrate that the Football Association has work to do to recover the situation. With protection in place, up and coming players such as Cauley Woodrow and Tammy Abraham have the chance to forge excellent careers in the Premier League and for the England squad.
Overall this roller coaster of a season has been fun, but there is some work to be done in the summer. Not just by Palace, but by the league to put greater focus on British talent among the plethora of overseas players in the Premier League. Only then will I be satisfied that English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish players and managers are being fairly represented in what can only be considered the best league in the world.
So what about Palace? Well it’s been a rough ride once again. We’ve seen another manager depart, and it’s probably been the most nerve wracking and tense finale to a Premier League season we have ever had.
We are safe! We have an unprecedented FIFTH season to look forward to in this wonderful league. We have achieved what some thought was impossible, and we have done it as one, as a club with no controversy and no huge investment, just hard graft and passion.
Some important signings must be made, some changes need to happen to maintain our status as the league gets harder and harder each year, but we are Palace and we will pull through it and still be cheering on the other side. There is so much more to come, and I cannot wait to see where we go next season.
Until that time Palace fans, stay loud, stay proud, and most of all stay Palace!