It is funny how times change in football. 12 months ago, Crystal Palace were undergoing a renaissance and Leicester were delved into a relegation battle. Even in a three month span, Palace’s season has changed drastically. The club have dropped from 6th to 16th ever so quickly and angst is growing at Selhurst Park.
While it may be premature to say that Palace are in a relegation scrap, there is no doubt that the Eagles had better step up their league form soon. However, fans are beginning to genuinely worry and now the number of fans calling for Alan Pardew’s head is beginning to grow. A lot of the sack talk is premature though. If there’s not a fire, don’t yell fire.
Palace currently lie eight points from the bottom three and are only six points off the famous 38 point mark. The bottom three are as hapless as it gets. Villa aren’t even in the question, Newcastle and Sunderland are still well off the mark, and Norwich are still 5 points behind the South Londoners with a game in hand themselves. After the Tyne-Wear derby ended in a draw, it is unlikely to say the least that the Premier League safety mark will be anything more than 38 points. For that, Palace need just two wins in the remaining matches.
The issue with Crystal Palace right now is a lack of motivation in the league. The team is not close enough to relegation yet for a dog-fight, and anything higher than mid-table seems unlikely. In many ways, Palace have stopped being Palace in the league and tapered off into a decent eleven that are lacking the drive to win.
The Eagles are not looking hapless like they were under Neil Warnock and Ian Holloway. Instead, they look a little flat. Against Leicester City; almost everyone’s champions-elect, Crystal Palace tested and probed a dogged defence for most of the match but lacked an end product. 31 crosses were put into the Foxes’ box yet none of them were met with a finishing touch. The home side also had more possession, shots, shots on target, and corners.
Pardew’s decision to play Bolasie up front was questionable. It became very clear that he was indeed not a striker, but that issue will hopefully be resolved when Connor Wickham; who finally found his scoring boots before his injury, is back amongst the fold. The side was missing someone up front who was ready to throw himself at any chance that came his way.
Moreover, unlike last season, Palace have been very dodgy at the back. Mahrez’s goal was the result of very lazy defending. There was no particular incompetence or blinding errors to be seen, just a distinct lack of marking. Pape Souare was nowhere to be seen, Adebayor was back defending for some reason, and Joel Ward, Mile Jedinak, and Joe Ledley were ball watching. If we were still in October, four Palace players would have pounced on the ball. Maybe even if it were the FA cup the players would have been more alert. Quite simply, it seems that Pardew’s players are losing motivation in the league.
It is not yet a crisis. Palace are still a way off relegation and Alan Pardew is working with arguably the most talented Palace squad in history. With the mounting pressure on Crystal Palace fans should expect a reaction in the coming run-in.
To fire Alan Pardew would be to fire the man who brought the club to a stage where some fans are calling for a sacking when the club is in 15th. Had Palace been in 15th at this stage in the season in 2013/2014 or even last year, supporters would be delirious. Expectations for Pardew have grown immensely and a lot of that is down to the man himself.
Even with Palace’s current form, the former Newcastle boss has a higher win percentage than managers such as Dougie Freedman and Tony Pulis who were idolised by many of the Selhurst Park faithful before their departures. Pardew is the man who built this Palace side that can go on a 13 match win-less streak and still be seven points safe in the league. The fans owe it to the club to keep the faith and be in full voice on April 2nd in West Ham in the same way the players owe it to the fans to give 100% in the next fixture as they have done at times this season.
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