Tough Times Ahead But What A Difference A Month Makes

About a month ago I started to write a piece on how three goals in the Newcastle, Brighton and Watford matches had helped to transform our season. My preparation and participation in the Palace for Life Foundation’s Bike to Bournemouth put the article on the back burner.

Coming back to this article now I feel like I am reading something from many years ago or a different world. In many ways, that is not a surprise. The prospect of watching a football match live or even on television behind closed doors feels about as imminent as me flying to the moon.

Strangely, I have not missed football that much. I think because the timing of reinstatement of the football calendar is so uncertain that it seems a purely theoretical concept. There is no point missing something which is impossible to have. In addition the gravity of the situation and the horror of an ever increasing number of people becoming ill and sadly in many cases dying makes clear the triviality of football (and any other sport) in these very strange and scary times.

So finishing my article is a bit trickier now. Other than the welcome nostalgia of the club releasing season reviews and match highlights on line, the only football topic in the news seems to be when and how football will restart and whether football is making a sufficient contribution to society in the current circumstances.

I am not proposing to weigh in on the debate about restarting football since it is an impossible question to answer at the moment. What I will say is that the whole debate about whether football has done enough smacks of politicians desperately trying to light a fire (or flare maybe?) to distract attention from their own performance. I would say I am disappointed that these politicians have taken this approach but that assumes that I think that they are capable of doing any better.

So, going back to the points I wanted to make when I started this article in February, I can currently feel a little smug about my optimistic piece which I wrote in January referring to our good first half of the season and how my glass was half full despite the slightly mixed bag of results.

I did start to get a little concerned about the state of my glass when we then promptly lost three in a row. Now, courtesy of those three wins against Newcastle, Brighton and Watford, we comfortably have our best points total at this stage of a Premier League season. Assuming there is a 2019/20 season to finish, with 39 points we would have to have to completely fall apart not to be safe this this season

Although there is so much uncertainty at the moment that it is pointless to even speculate about what will happen next season (let alone this season), the fact that Roy has signed a contract extension for next season should be good news. I had originally written about our points tally enabling us to start to plan for next season but for the time being that has gone out the window.

The piece I wrote in January highlighted that a good transfer window was critical both for a successful end of the season and for the future. In a strange twist of fate, with hindsight, that disastrous transfer window may have been a masterstroke. We have managed to get a decent points tally without any new signings thereby keeping funds available to (worst case) help the club survive this financial disaster or ( best case) to pick up players once football comes back.

My final point was going to be about the magnificent job that Steve Parish has done to take the club from insolvency in 2010 to where it is today. Parish has of course not got everything right but I am sure he would be the first to admit that. Whilst nothing has changed in that regard since February, I fear the next few months are going to the biggest and most difficult test that Parish and his staff will face both financially but also from a public reactions perspective.

We have already seen the backlash that Liverpool faced when they furloughed their staff and all football clubs are going to face some really difficult decisions in the coming months. That of course remains the case but I am hopeful that the club’s management will continue to get things (mostly) right in the next few very difficult months to come.

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  1. Great article Mark.
    Those 3 games do indeed seem an age ago.
    Had to actually watch the highlights from the Watford game to remind me how we won and the goal.
    Hope you’ve recovered well from the B2B, I know i have.
    All the best Mark.
    Hope to see you soon back in the Lower Holmesdale .
    Stay safe.
    Ian Blackman

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