Opinion

With 39 Points And 5 Matches To Go – Why Are We So Grumpy?

What a strange season this has been. We have our second highest points total at this stage of the season since we were promoted in 2013, we are virtually guaranteed safety and will therefore have at least seven seasons in the Premier League. The best we have ever done previously since 1905 is four consecutive seasons in the top division, so why is everyone so unhappy?

Since the new year our form has been more or less win one, lose one with the odd draw thrown in. If we had kept that up for the whole season we would end up with at least 50 points. We have dished out Manchester City’s sole home defeat (so far) and thrashed Leicester City and Burnley away from home. If we keep up our current form (and Bournemouth and West Ham continue their miserable form) we could finish in the top half of the table.

So why are so many people saying Roy Hodgson should go at the end of the season?

Personally, I cannot understand it. My view was and has been that Hodgson has been the best manager we have had for years, if not ever. He has a training regime which is tried and tested, he has spent virtually no money since he came in and has been proven tactically clever enough to get the results to keep us comfortably away from the relegation zone. Yes, we hovered above it before Christmas but since then we have steadily moved away from danger.

If I was being harsh I would say we are following in the footsteps of Charlton Athletic supporters and becoming spoilt and entitled, thinking we should be winning every match as a matter of right. I am, however, not that harsh and I think it would be more accurate to say we are suffering from “be careful what you wish for” syndrome.

At the start of Frank de Boer’s (very short) reign, I longed for a season of steady, unexciting, mid-table mediocrity. We all know how that ended up. However, after the thrilling end to last season, we all (including me) dreamt of a whole season playing fast intricate attacking football with a solid defensive base at the other end. Sadly, we have only seen glimpses of that style of football this season and when we have, often we have ended up peppering the opposition goal without scoring. What we have ended up with is a season where we have been fairly predictable, generally beating the teams we should, and losing to the better teams with some draws thrown in against Arsenal and Manchester United. The gleaming exception is the defeat of City of course. That, however, is not that exciting a season.

Clearly losing home and away to Brighton and our other (sort of) rivals Watford has hurt and the disappointment of the cup defeat to the Hornets (again!) has not helped the mood.

In many ways, this season has resembled the 2005-6 season in the Championship. We had a squad designed to bounce straight back up to the Premiership and although we ended up in the play offs we never really generated enough momentum to push us into the automatic promotion places. Every time we won a couple of matches we would come unstuck with a draw or a loss and then have to start again. The disappointment of the home defeat to Watford in the play off semi final capped off an underwhelming campaign. Similarly this season we recently have had the promise of the Leicester City and Burnley away wins snuffed out by the Brighton home loss and the Watford cup defeat.

The difference of course is that in 2005-6 we were freshly relegated from the Premiership and had top two aspirations. This season we might have dreamed of a top 6/7 finish but previous history would suggest that was likely to stay a dream. Mid-table respectability with a fairly predictable but unspectacular strategy was always more realistic and that is what we have got.

At the moment every win is met with a relieved smile and a shrug and every loss is treated like it is the end of the world with much raging at Roy Hodgson for poor tactics, team selection and substitutions. The reality is we are likely to end up mid table (ish) at the worst without enduring long spells in the relegation zone. Based on our recent seasons that is solid (but clearly not spectacular) progression. For me, that is not to be sniffed at and another season like this will be fine with me. Of course I want more and better but being realistic I am happy enough.

There is also the other side of the “be careful what you wish for” saying. I am sure two of Roy’s former clubs Fulham and West Brom would be absolutely delighted to be in the sorry state we are in. Okay, Liverpool might not be but we are not quite Liverpool yet, despite the wishes it seems of some Palace supporters.

 

 

11 Comments

  1. D Paul
    April 10, 2019 at 1:12 am — Reply

    Pretty much on target. Good defense, good tactics, no offense because there is no striker worth a half full salt shaker.

  2. Vasso Vassiliou
    April 10, 2019 at 8:48 am — Reply

    Excellent article, spot on on how i see the season, only down side to the season is our home form, but i take seasons like this till the new stand is built and the finances improve.

  3. Phil Smith
    April 10, 2019 at 10:42 am — Reply

    As a Palace fan of forty+ years I have seen it all, from the old 4th division to the Premier League, cup finals, promotions/relegations, administration, many highs and many lows. I don’t have any sense of entitlement to win games and I don’t sense that the majority of fans do either, however let’s consider a few things that I think we are realistically entitled to expect.

    – A £30 million international striker is capable of scoring more than a couple of goals a season.
    – That when we we play at Selhurst Park we play like the home team and not sit back and defend like an away side, especially against lower table opposition.
    – The manager is willing to make positive changes early enough in a game, either by changing tactics, formation or making substitutions, so that there is enough time for the changes to take effect and demonstrate to the fans that he can read the game and see what’s happening.
    – After 6 years in the Premier League we are not constantly flirting with relegation, looking over our shoulders and then breathing a huge sigh of relief when we get to around the 38 point mark.

  4. Tom
    April 10, 2019 at 11:51 am — Reply

    I agree, these are times to be enjoyed as a Palace fan. We’ve only experienced 20 seasons in the top flight as a club so every year we are up is a massive bonus. Hope the fans stay behind Roy.

  5. Steve B
    April 10, 2019 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    An excellent article, and couldn’t agree more. Quickly scanning through our results, since the start of December we have played 24 matches and only failed to score in 3 matches, keeping 10 clean sheets, scoring 37 goals in the process and conceding only 28. People forget we had Benteke injured for long periods before Xmas, and since Michy has arrived, he has given us real energy up front. Breaking the 40 point barrier has to be classed as a good season.

    • Michael Banks
      April 10, 2019 at 3:31 pm — Reply

      Actually those stats from the start of December to now are surprisingly impressive. That form all season would have seen us in at least 7th place right? And I heard the other day that only two teams have more clean sheets than us. That’s VERY impressive. Just think of what could have been with a goalscorer from the start. We were ruthless with De Bore and maybe should have been with Big Ben early on. At least we would have had the funds to get a good 20 mill striker over the Jan transfer window or earlier if possible.

  6. Dave
    April 10, 2019 at 12:51 pm — Reply

    I think Roy is ok, but just that, which has produced ok results, but I think it is time for a change. True, he hasn’t spent, but he inherited a good team. The problem for me is our ability to play in the middle third. Good defence and on the break, but the midfield makes me stamp with frustration, the inability to pass, the panic, giving the ball away. We have been awful in our last few games, very lucky against Newcastle, the commentator was spot on, ‘palace are unable to hold onto the ball’. Where is the coaching on that? I am constantly shouting ‘give him someone to pass to’ or ‘create some space’.
    We are one dimensional, great on a fast break, but inept otherwise, which is why we win away and lose at home. We are also created in Roy’s image, nice, but with no bite. We are often bullied, and several players were physically scared of Rondon the other day. We constantly come off second best in challenges with physical (watford) or determined (Brighton) teams.
    As for best ever manager..were you around in the days of venables or coppell? Now those teams could play football, based around the mixture of flair and steel in midfield.. Murphy, Hilaire and Nicholas.. Thomas, Andy Gray…
    I would love to have seen what Brendan Rogers could have done for us instead of transforming Leicester…

  7. Michael Banks
    April 10, 2019 at 3:35 pm — Reply

    I agree with you 100% Dave. It is become more and more obvious to me in recent weeks that other than a goalscorer our primary goal must be to get a midfield playmaker who can release our strikers really well. Looking at how the Liverpool midfielders constantly released their forward line with spectacular and visionary long through passes last night I was left yearning for the same at Palace.

  8. Rich
    April 10, 2019 at 3:44 pm — Reply

    Great article… always be careful what you wish for so true…. in saying that , would love to see the old benteke back on form, he makes such a positive impact in our general play when he is on, just get that rhythm back… my goodness we would be bloody awesome!

  9. April 10, 2019 at 6:27 pm — Reply

    “he has spent virtually no money since he came in…”

    What about the near £30m on players? Sorloth and Koyate were £8m each plus Jach was about £3m. Then there are loan fees and signing on fees for free transfers.

    It all adds up but I accept it isn’t mega money but it is hardly ‘virtually no money’ which seems to be the perceived view.

  10. Den
    April 12, 2019 at 8:13 pm — Reply

    I agree with all the comments in this report, Roy has done an exceptional job with limited resources and virtually no transfer budget, he has coped well with a very meddling Chairman who frankly is not quite up to the job.

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