Every year we tell ourselves it will be different, but the cycle is vicious and familiar.
There is a wonderful moment about a week before every season starts, where the majority of Premier League clubs are brimming with wide-eyed optimism. The shiny new signings paraded in their club’s new fifth kit, on their official Sportslobster account.
It doesn’t take long for that optimism to disappear. For some, it was entering the first game of the season without obvious depth and reinforcements. For others, hope was smashed to pieces in the time it took between Joel Ward’s fumble into his own net and Huddersfield Town’s Steven Mounie being granted the freedom of Selhurst Park. That’s three whole minutes
What has followed since has been a familiar pattern of frustration. Fingers furiously crafting tweets to vent their disdain.
“Hang on, I forgot to tag ‘@CEO4TAG’ to make sure he’s listening”.
A stadium spitting bile, boos raining down on the departing players and manager as they depart the field.
“But their legs are so feeble, how will they manage to carry themselves all the way to the dressing rooms unassisted?”
If there is a positive from it all, it is that the numeracy levels at Selhurst are rising. All this talk of 3-4-3, 4-5-1, 4-4-2.
“The new style adapted as part of De Boer’s 3-4-3 system should see us dominating possession through a series of intricate yet uncomplicated triangles”.
For those wondering, the area of triangle ABC = 1/2ab sin C. Is this the secret to the system working? If a GCSE student can figure that out, why have a gaggle of professional footballers failed to do so? Perhaps Frank de Boer had it written on the palm of his hand for the Swansea game, forgot his glasses and pressed it against his face in the hope of it registering?
Because if Huddersfield was bad, Swansea was pathetic. As [Insert Twitter Handle Here] smashes the screen of his iPhone for the third time in as many weeks, the idiocy of ever holding out hope was more apparent.
Palace are increasingly like the deadbeat Dad your Mum divorced ten years ago. You only get to see him at weekends. He talks a big game during the summer months, and you build your hopes up that he’s changed. Finally, you’re going to be rewarded for keeping faith with him while the rest of your family abandoned him. You’ll be eating at the best restaurants when you see him, wearing the best clobber.
But a leopard doesn’t change its spots. Look at you, you fool, back here at Burger King, paper hat and party streamer gloomily affixed to you as you celebrate your 31st birthday. It’s the same every year.
“But Dad, you told me we would get Sakho, Burke and Munir. What is a ‘Niasse’? Are you trying to make a Niasse of me? Why are you being such a Niasse-hole”
At the time of writing this piece is smack bang in the middle of transfer deadline day, as we sit as Palace fans in familiar territory. Here we are, scrambling around the market looking for late deals. A desperate attempt to whitewash the walls that have been smeared since the incident involving “the excrement and the fan”. The fresh ketchup stain on your new jeans from your Burger King mishap compounding the misery. That’s going to leave a stain. Yet, you love these jeans so much that you’ll probably continue wearing them with this pitiful stain gracing the thigh.
Meanwhile, your Dad has floated in to the distance, safe in the knowledge that by the time his next great idea comes around you might just have been stupid enough to forget his incompetent indiscretions and swallow his tall tales of hope.
Bigger fools we are, for expecting any different.