The Away Block Report: Is time running out for Palace to adapt?

By - Monday 7th October, 2013

With Crystal Palace losing 3-1 away at Liverpool last Saturday, they go into the international break with just three points from their opening seven games

Photo by Andy Nugent. Used under Creative Commons.

At half-time in Liverpool on Saturday, Palace fans would have been forgiven for checking the times of the earliest trains back to London. Maybe they shouldn’t have been surprised, given Matt Woosnam correctly predicted the eventual scoreline in his preview.

Forgiven they might have been, but ducking out of supporting their team early is generally not within the nature of Palace supporters, even more so those who regularly travel away. And so it is for the rest of the season; there may be an understandable level of concern, but the playing squad can rest assured the support will remain loyal until the end – whether that be a stunning survival or a glorious failure.

The question is whether a glorious failure may come sooner than many fans would anticipate, given Palace’s poor start to the season. Having achieved promotion later than fellow ex-Championship clubs Hull City and Cardiff City, Palace had less time to research and negotiate new signings. This was clearly evident in the deluge of new signings close to the transfer deadline, and two of Palace’s earlier signings – Stephen Dobbie (now on loan at Blackpool) and Florian Marange (who had his contract ripped up this week) not even making the 25 man squad. This level of activity was to be expected, and there is little cause for complaint in this respect; the squad which had been promoted was thin even by Championship standards, and needed addition.

The first half against Liverpool, in which Palace shipped three goals, two to clever finishes by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, and the third scored by Steven Gerrard from the penalty spot via yet another a highly contentious decision, demonstrated once again that Palace are lacking cohesion. Even last season’s star performer, Mile Jedinak, has yet to really find his feet in the Premier League despite an encouraging start to the campaign. As mentioned in previous reports, a continual tinkering of starting lineups and formation inevitably doesn’t help. The two most successful teams in Palace’s recent history, the promoted sides of 2012/13 and 2003/04 had a highly consistent starting eleven in common, and the 1990/91 team, Palace’s best ever which finished third in the top flight, can still be reeled off by most supporters to this day.

A settled team therefore, with hungry, skilful players seems a good place to start

After Ian Holloway changed the team in the second half, with Dwight Gayle and Jose Campana coming on after half time, followed by the highly anticipated return of popular winger Yannick Bolasie, Palace were much brighter, culminating in all three substitutes contributing to the Eagles’ consolation goal; after good work in front of the away fans, Bolasie was brought down a few yards outside the box. Campana swung in a delightful ball which Gayle glanced on the way into the back of the net, giving the Palace fans something to remember on the long trip home. Indeed, a goal at Anfield should give Gayle a much needed confidence boost; the former Peterborough man has shown glimpses of his huge potential, but like many of his fellow players has yet to really acclimatise to the demands of the Premier League.

A settled team therefore, with hungry, skilful players seems a good place to start. Palace have been unfortunate in that they have faced Tottenham Hostpur, Manchester United and Liverpool in their opening games, all three of which are anticipated title contenders. Injuries and suspensions have further hampered Palace’s progress. They need confidence, co

The Palace Away Fan

The Palace Away Fan

Following Palace over land and sea, The Away Fan is 100% committed to the cause. Often seen catching a train on a rainy Saturday, the Away Fan rarely returns home without a thousand stories to tell. Visiting exotic locations such as Stoke, Hull and Sunderland, this intrepid traveller is the authority on Crystal Palace performances away from SE25.

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