Defying The Odds Is Our Success This Season
Our beloved Crystal Palace Football Club finished three goals away from the top half of the table.
You read that correctly, THREE goals away from being on the first page of the standings after the most horrendous start in English League Football (if it’s not, it sure felt like it was!).
The Eagles failed to score a top flight goal until a Yohan Cabaye tap in (off visiting defender Cesar Azpilicueta) goal in mid-October against reigning Premier League Champions Chelsea, a game that we went on to win and pick up the first points of the season.
Let us not relive that horrible (hiring Frank De Boer), terrible (sacking Frank De Boer after four games), unpresidented (not scoring a goal for seven games), start. Instead let us focus on what made the season so special to all that experienced it.
First and foremost, it was the season of one Dazet Wilfried Armel Zaha.
When he was in the side, Palace were one of the most dangerous teams outside of the top six. When he was out injured, the side was a shambles without his attacking presence. In his twenty-nine appearances, Wilf bagged nine goals and was the team leader in terms of chances created with fifty-two from open play. You would be hard pressed to find a player more important to their side than he was to ours this season.
While pudents and opposing fans call Palace a one man squad, what made this season so special was the efforts of the other members of the squad. Starting with James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho forming perhaps the most underrated and under appreciated center back combo in the league, our fearless captain Luka Milivojevic patrolling the middle of the field and loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek putting opposing defences on their heels with lightning quick runs. The emergence of youth academy graduate Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a real highlight, shutting down wingers from top clubs and the ever present Andros Townsend that has transformed from the much maligned winger under Alan Pardew to being one of the first selection on the team sheet week after week.
There was much to be proud of in being red and blue through and through.
Perhaps I saved for last the most important and influential man to this season. The one and only Roy Hodgson. The man that has just been awarded the freedom of the Borough of Croydon was initially not so warmly received. Having just recently cast as an embarrassment in leading the Three Lions paired with his short spell at Liverpool, it is fair to say that hopes that Palace would be playing in the Premier League during the 2018/19 season were low.
Not only did Roy defy the odds and do the impossible in keeping Palace up, he single handedly restored the spirit that makes being a fan of the club so special. The spirit that had been lost under Pardew, partially restored by Big Sam, and demolished under de Boer.
The spirit that fills 26,000 plus fans on a Saturday afternoon. The spirit that has filled this random American from Roanoke, Virginia and drove him to make the pilgrimage to the Mecca that is Selhurst Park this past March. And, I don’t want to brag, but Palace have yet to lose a game since I saw them in person.
Palace may have lost to Liverpool on that cold, rainy morning but like the slogan that is on the front of the sweatshirt I bought, I am Palace For Life and I would not want it any other way.
Up The Palace!