Restless Crystal Palace fans must rally around their team

By - Friday 27th January, 2017

Palace fans must keep their heads up, as the Eagles are not relegated yet

Different approach, same result

A confidence-sapping late winner for Everton against Palace last time out will have further reinforced the belief that Crystal Palace’s four year stay in the Premier League is coming to a close. Without playing particularly well, the Eagles looked to have held on to their first point of 2017 before a controversial late goal sent Palace into the relegation zone.

The game was notable however for a small but perceptive shift in momentum for Palace. With a new 3-5-2 formation deployed and bright performances from home debutants and indeed former Premier League winners Loic Remy and Jeffrey Schlupp there appeared for the first time in several months more fight and more threat from the home side in the first half of the game.

Perhaps this is why the defeat left such a bitter taste in the mouth; after the previous home defeat by Swansea, an insipid performance by Crystal Palace left the team departing the pitch to a chorus of displeasure. The fact that a battling performance led to the exactly the same result would have harmed players and fans alike.

Unity in the stands needed

With just six wins from forty league matches stretching back to Boxing Day 2015, Crystal Palace fans have every right to be angry, upset and even apathetic towards a team which has sunk from fifth in the Premier League on Christmas Day that year to 18th a little over a year later. Often the case with teams on such a dire run of form, civil war starts to emerge within pockets of the crowd and dismayingly there were several vocal battles audible in the crowd at the game against Everton, and on the message boards after the game.

Naturally, everyone is entitled to an opinion and such strong opinions are generally an indication of passion. However, regardless of whether Sam Allardyce is a good appointment (at this moment in time, the evidence suggests certainly not) or whether the blame for the current predicament lies at the door of previous manager Alan Pardew (at least partially if not significantly) needless spats will not lift Palace to safety, particularly with a large portion of the season remaining.

Crystal Palace are not relegated yet and considering the atrocious form the side have been in, are very fortunate to be within two points of safety. There is still time (admittedly not much) to turn things around and a couple more combative, hungry signings – the like of which were made in similarly poor if not worse strife during under the leadership of Tony Pulis – may ease Palace towards lower mid-table.

The only way is Schlupp

The brightest spark from the defeat against Everton was the home debut of Jeffrey Schlupp, signed for a reported £12 million from Premier League champions Leicester City. A bit part player in last years title winning side, many, including yours truly, were concerned that such an outlay had been made for a player of questionable talent.

His debut will have eased those concerns to a great extent. Athletic, hungry and with no shortage of skill and brainpower, Schlupp demonstrated the type of mentality required across the Palace squad to survive and will have raised hopes that Allardyce can make the signings needed to keep the Eagles in the top division.

It was no coincidence that Everton’s winning goal came with Schlupp lying prone at the other end of the pitch, the player’s first start in the Premier League since October 15th draining the player’s energy resources. Unfortunate though it was, the arrival of Schlupp in a position which has troubled Palace since left back Pape Souare’s nasty car accident earlier in the season will have provided some relief.

Cup distraction

Crystal Palace take on Manchester City at Selhurst Park in the fourth round of the FA Cup. With Premier League survival the priority this season, interest amongst the supporters in a competition Palace came so close to winning last May is limited. However, a positive result against City will provide a confidence boost which the team can hopefully carry forward to a crucial set of games against Bournemouth, Sunderland, Stoke City and Middlesbrough.

Crystal Palace take on Manchester City in the FA Cup at Selhurst Park on Saturday 28th January, before travelling to Bournemouth on Tuesday 31st January.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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