No More Surrender, Time For Change

It is often easier to find fault with a performance after a defeat but if I am being honest, the list was hard to pin down to just five after the game against Burnley. Here are the five I narrowed them down to that I felt were most important:

1. Saturday was the day when even the most level-headed of Palace fans will have accepted that the time has come for a change. Defeat at the hands of Burnley was just the latest in a sequence of performances since December where the Eagles have simply surrendered to the opposition. Roy Hodgson apologists might argue that this is an ageing squad with a lot of injuries – including one to the most important player of all – but no one is forcing the former England manager to persist with 4-4-2, and no one is forcing him to play Scott Dann and Cheikhou Kouyate as a centre back pairing. The performance on Saturday was one of a group of players that no longer believe in what their manager is telling them to do. Yes, Palace have stumbled their way to 29 points from 24 games this season, but the poor performances are getting increasingly poorer, the margin of defeat is growing wider and the squad’s morale is visibly being eroded. Going to an in-form Brighton with a new – or, as might be more likely, caretaker – manager in charge would be a big risk, but one that now feels like it might give Palace a better chance of a result than arriving at the Amex with the current man at the helm.

2. The last two games have been yet another worrying glimpse into life after Wilfried Zaha. Hodgson has spoken of this period as an opportunity for the players to prove that they can win without their most influential teammate, but instead Palace have only reinforced the perception of them being a one-man team. In fact, Palace’s results without their talisman this season have read 0-1, 0-2, 0-4, 0-2 and 0-3. That is 12 goals conceded with zero in reply – and only one of those games has been against a side in the top eight. Palace should be able to compete against the likes of Burnley, Leeds and Newcastle even in Zaha’s absence, but the Eagles have now lost 18 (eighteen) of their last 20 games when he hasn’t played. That is not just relegation form, but bottom of the league without a hope form. On that evidence, it is probably worth reconsidering the idea that having Hodgson as manager guarantees Premier League survival. Zaha is the man who preserves Palace’s top-flight status, and Hodgson must take the blame for failing to find a way to get results without him in three and a half years at the club.

3. One thing that has become alarmingly apparent is just how bereft of leadership Palace have become. Whether it was Ben Mee and James Tarkowski in defence, Jack Cork in midfield or Ashley Barnes up front, the Burnley players were constantly talking to each other and organising themselves. Contrast that with Palace, who conceded their first goal due to miscommunication between Scott Dann and Patrick van Aanholt, then the second simply because no one took responsibility for a ball into the box. There was once upon a time when Palace had the likes of Mile Jedinak and Damien Delaney organising the team, telling other players where to be. They might not have been as talented as the current crop, but they at least ensured that their teammates never switched off. At the moment – from the boardroom down to the touchline and on the pitch – Palace are massively lacking those leadership qualities.

4. Shortly after the final whistle on Saturday, the Sky Sports commentator described it as an “off day” for the Eagles. Pundits have also been queueing up to say that it would be a mistake to get rid of Hodgson. The problem, though, is that performances like Saturday are no longer an anomaly. Since December alone, Palace have lost 0-7, 3-0 (against ten men), 4-0, 2-3, 2-0 and 0-3. Seeing where Palace are in the league, it would be easy for some to suggest that the fans are overreacting to the current run. In normal circumstances that might be true, but these aren’t normal circumstances, where we can quickly forget about the game with a pint in the pub or a train journey back south with friends. Given the current situation we all find ourselves, where we are stuck at home and unable to do the things we enjoy, the matchday experience is nothing more than the performance and the result. The least Palace fans can expect at present is for the players to look like they care, to perform like they want to entertain the very people who would do anything to be back at Selhurst Park watching them. They say it’s the hope that kills you, but at the moment Palace aren’t even affording the fans that.

5. Before I go, I should point out that not all of the blame should be attributed to Hodgson. It’s also worth highlighting that the way things are going shouldn’t detract from the generally good job he has done. But back to the point I was making. Five of the players who started Saturday’s game are out of contract this summer. Hodgson himself will be aware that this is his last season as manager. The club hierarchy have allowed Palace to fall into a situation where a significant chunk of both the playing and coaching staff know that they won’t be here in a few months’ time, so it’s no wonder that motivation is spiralling downwards. There is little Palace can do to rectify that on the playing side at the moment, but they have been kicking the can down the road with regards to addressing Hodgson’s future. They must now choose whether they want to wait and watch Palace continue to deteriorate for the rest of the season under the current manager, or go down the more expensive route of getting a replacement in now. If Palace play like they have this week when they go to the Amex, then the board will surely be left with little alternative.

  1. 100% agree! Just wonder how the board can continue watch the rubbish? And the irony in it – Palace has finally got an Academy to be proud at with a manager that seems to consider youth player being 27-28 plus.

  2. I see may comments about players out of contract so don’t care but in the current times with the money in the game at a low I would expect the players to be playing for new contracts either with us or another team. We do look like a team that doesn’t care and yes it’s time for change but I believe the board are going in the right direction with the signings they are making. let’s see how long they wait to install mr Howe as manager !

  3. A very well articulated statement. The situation is so frustrating, but so ‘Palace’ right now.
    I looked at the run of fixtures and honestly felt that this was an opportunity to consolidate our position in the top half of the table. A run of four or five games, all of which I considered winnable. At this rate we will do well to come out of this period not looking too closely over our shoulders at relegation.
    Players out of contract…..not a major problem, anyone can see the squad needs an over haul. It’s not just the older players, some players are out of form and you have to wonder why? Case in point is Mitchy, on his day, outstanding. But this period he has looked a pale imitation of his former self. I think he has played himself offside more times than he’s been a goal threat! This is a player that barely puts a foot wrong for his national side.
    Martinez gets a tune out of him, Hodgson…………..? enough said!
    as you eluded to, there is a lot to be concerned about at our club.

  4. All 5 points are valid but particularly the last one. The board have allowed the squad to stagnate for years. Clearly that has been out of a desire to spend as little as possible because the Americans want to sell up. Parish has relied on Hodgson to keep the PL money rolling in. Hodgson warned two seasons ago that you have to constantly refresh the squad because everyone else is, failing to do so means slipping behind and, ultimately, relegation. It’s now apparent that Hodgson cannot get any more out of this squad.

  5. A good bit of writing that! Unfortunately its about 100% true!!!

    I was never in favour of Hodgson coming to Palace, although in fairness he did initially shore things up and make us difficult to beat. But now he needs to go – now – not in 3 months time – a new man is needed to review things and make plans for restructuring in the summer.

    That will take co-operation from Parish & the board – sadly lacking over last 2-3 years – yes I am aware of the current problems in football, including financial, but the much vaunted new youth system will take time to work and more time to flourish – as much as the stadium needs a re-vamp the team should come first – little point in increasing attendance when in the Championship!

    Palace (perhaps arguably) have become the most boring team in the Premier league under Hodgson, it is time to freshen up! Hodgson has and never has had a ‘plan B’, I am not sure he knows the meaning of attacking football! Most people were aware that Palace needed a good solid extra defender in January. Instead we sign yet another ‘striker’ who apparently can’t score goals – at least not under the Hodgson tactics!

  6. I have supported Palace for 50 years, many ups and downs but the last couple of seasons have been abysmal. It seems the ethos of the club is simply to stay in the Premiership with absolutely no ambition to do any more. How about Eddie Howe as manager?

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