After last Saturday’s poor performance by Crystal Palace, in which they lost to fellow strugglers Middlesbrough 2-1, it seems to be that George Burley’s men are lacking the spirit and character that ensured them safety last season.
The Championship’s bottom club went into half-time with a 1-0 lead at the Riverside, but the Eagles were out-played in the second half and goals from substitute Kink and a second own-goal of the season from captain Paddy McCarthy meant Palace would stay in the dreaded 24th place.
With Edgar Davids confirming yesterday morning that he would be leaving Selhurst Park after only seven starts for the South London outfit, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better for the Eagles after such a poor start to the season.
The most frustrating thing for Palace fans would be the lack of spirit and character that everyone expected to see last season and what ultimately ensured Palace would stay in the second tier of English football after the nail biting draw against Sheffield Wednesday in the last game of the season.
But what has gone so wrong for Palace this season?
Having lost influential youngster Victor Moses and manager Neil Warnock during important stages of the campaign last season, Palace done well to avoid relegation but if the performances don’t change this season, it may be too late for the Eagles to make another ‘great escape’.
Being a Palace fan, I feel strongly about this subject and in my opinion, the loss off Clint Hill and Shaun Derry to QPR was massive and George Burley is feeling the effects having not found suitable replacements for the pair.
Although the duo were not the best footballers, the work rate they both possessed and the spirit that they showed was second to none and they always managed to ensure they had to whole squad behind them.
With no disrespect to the Palace players, the likes of Darren Ambrose and Julian Speroni clearly possess talent but in the dressing room there are no real personalities who can get the team behind them, lead from the start and scrap for a win.
The other problem I feel for Palace is that the squad has too many young loan-signings, where they are not committed to the cause and have no experience in a relegation scrap.
The likes of Obika and Bennett seem to be fringe players at their parent teams who are sent out on-loan to teams like Palace who are desperate for players and play just for the sake of it.
After watching every home game at Palace for various seasons, these loans singings seem to lack commitment as they know by the end of the season they will be back at their clubs and Crystal Palace will be a distant memory.
Going into the game against Sheffield Wednesday last season, Palace had the likes of Matt Lawrence, Danny Butterfield, Alan Lee, Stern John and Shaun Derry, all of whom have various experiences that most loan singings and youngsters lack.
With the majority of the squad leaving Palace during the summer, George Burley was left with a very small team and has done extremely well to bring players in but experience is always necessary when building a successful team and this season, the Eagles lack that experience.
However, with Palace securing a vital three points against high flying Watford on Tuesday, could George Burley’s Palace career finally get going?
This season it’s been a case of Palace performing well but failing to take their chances, however the win against Watford proved to fans that Palace can win ugly when the odds are against them.
After going into half-time with a 1-0 lead, Palace looked to throw the win away for a second successive time when Watford scored two quick fire second half goals, but Owen Garvan wasn’t willing to let Palace go down without a fight and the Ireland u21 international scored two fantastic long range efforts in 3 minutes to secure a thrilling 3-2 win at Selhurst Park.
The effort and commitment shown throughout the emphatic win against Watford is exactly what I am questioning and nothing would please me more than to see that exact performance against Coventry this Saturday.
I have to say that George Burley got his tactics 100% correct when he brought Wilfred Zaha on as a substitute for Counago when Palace went 2-1 down and the youngster changed the game in an instance when his cross after fine play caused Watford problems and Garvan equalised for Burley’s men.
Although I won’t get too ahead of myself as Palace seem to perform badly when things are just starting to look good, Tuesday’s performance really did show the fans that Burley can do things the right way and we can show the character that is needed to secure hard wins.
To make the win even better, all three goals from the Eagles were absolute screamers with Darren Ambrose scoring his first goal for the Red and Blue army since his return from injury.
I’d like to think that things will eventually come good and after the owners assured fans that Burley is staying, it looks to be a case of Palace fans getting behind the team home or away as they usually do and the spirit I’m desperately asking for will eventually show in every game.