So the season is finally finished for Crystal Palace. I am now feeling good about next season. Not felt this good about a start of the new season since Palace hired De Boer.
De Boer Era
I really like his Ajax side that had won the Dutch league. As I was single then and 11 am kickoffs. I was quite excited about his arrival at Palace. But it was a total disaster on almost all levels. For example player like Patrick Van Anholt, he is a very attacking fullback and should be able to work as a wing back in De Boer’s system but he had no confidence. He was terrible. Normally it’s only his defending is a bit suspect but then all his play was poor.
Or when De Boer decided that Luka Milivojević should play center back as he wasn’t suited to play in midfield for his style of play. Under Roy Luka has really improved and isn’t a limited anchor of midfielder that De Boer thought.
Worth noting as bad as seven games and seven losses it wasn’t the worst run in the league. This season under Pardew he went eight losses in a row. After similar problems with alienating the squad as De Boar.
Hodgson to the rescue
When Roy Hodgson was rumored to be the next boss. I just thought it was just same rumors going around again. As he gets linked every time same as Chris Coleman. But he fits the profile that Steve Parish likes. That he knows the league and club (code for British). I was a bit worried about the appointment but then I listen to Fulham and WBA fans they love Roy Hodgson. He had done a good job with them. They are both similar clubs to Palace and Roy has done a similarly good job. I was still worried if Roy was good enough at this age.
Had a massive job when Roy first started with losses to Southampton (H), Manchester City (A) and Manchester United (A). Which was reasonable due to our only fit striker was out injured (Bentekke). Then out of nowhere Palace beat Chelsea 2-1. This was done by playing Zaha and Townsend as strikers that would wander around the pitch. Making it difficult for Chelsea to keep organised at the back.
That was one of only four wins against teams in the top half. But Palace close to winning against Manchester United but lost a two-goal lead and against Manchester City almost won but a penalty was saved in a game that ended nil-nil.
The important thing is that the results against other teams in the bottom half have been good. Under Hodgson, there were seven wins, eight draws and one lost (first game against Southampton). That’s good result with 29 points from 16 games.
Brighton Away Games
This includes a draw and a win against Brighton. Palace waited five years for a derby. There was a campaign supported by most of the Palace fan groups and run by Proud and Palace (the Official group for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans supporters of Crystal Palace). “99 reasons to hate Brighton but homophobia doesn’t need to be one of them”. This has changed the atmosphere at the game. There are certain songs that at the game that people try to start but the crowd doesn’t join them and song a died. This is a good step forward there is still work to be done.
It was a damp squid. A nil-nil draw with unfortunate fans getting stuck and refused entry to the stadium. A false police statement made about weapons. Not an enjoyable night but Palace come away with a point.
Then the FA cup game. I was so happy when Sako equalized after Dale Stephens first goal. Then Murray scored because he almost always scores in this game. This was the most disappointing game of the season. With a low attendance at the game of 14,507 and both teams fielding weak teams. I hate when Palace go out of the cup especially now Palace are premier league team we should be looking to go cup runs as they are so much fun. That said the guided walk by the police home was a highlight of the season. With some cheeky new songs about the false statement.
Brighton at Home
Now the home game was an extraordinary atmosphere. The stands were busy forty minutes before kick off; that rarely happens. Zaha gets an early goal and Tomkins follows up with the second. Brighton looked shell-shocked and didn’t recover defensively until the second half. Proper party time; Brighton rarely scores away. Then Murrey did what Murrey does and scored a poachers goal in Palace Brighton game. At that point, some nerves kicked in.
Which was calmed by Zaha scoring a diving header. As that’s what he does in Palace Brighton games. Then Brighton’s Izquierdo scored. Then a tense second half as Palace had conceded late goals in the previous two games. But it was a goalless second half. I was frustrated by this game as Palace had eight shots on target compared to Brighton’s three. Palace could have really put them to the sword.
In January released the plans for the new stand and multiple improvements. This will bring the capacity to 34k which will be 16th biggest football stadium in England. They would reduce the first couple of rows in the white horse to increase the size of the pitch so it was FIFA and UEFA standard for hosting internationals.
This quite commonplace for international teams to have a base in France or London. For example, Nigeria plays games at Barnet’s Stadium. They will fill in the corners in Holmesdale road stand. Add new toilets and faculties for the Arthur Wait behind the new corner. The Main stand will remain open while building. The new stand will have new changing rooms, corporate facilities, and TV positions. This will remove the TV gantry in the Arthur that blokes some of the views.
Bit disappointed that we never move to Crystal Palace Park that was mentioned around the time that Tottenham bid for the Olympic stadium. As they wanted to build a modern athletic stadium to replace London Stadium. I love the park and there is an underused station with London overground links. Parking would be a nightmare and so would planning permission so understand it wasn’t meant to be.
The positive from the injury crisis was the emergence of 20-year-old Aaron Wan Bissaka. He started the season as a winger but had been covering right back in training for a couple of sessions. In these sessions, he impressed causing problems for Wilf Zaha. So changed his position for his games for the under 23s. It took him time to adjust but excelled in his new role.
His first three games were Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea. In those games, he didn’t look out of place. So far he looks like best attacking right back at the club. Fast, doesn’t get beaten easily and great slide tackle. But let’s not overhype him. In the match at Bournemouth, it was his mistake at the last minutes at corner that lead to there goal. He was then replaced by Joel Ward for rest of the season bar the last game.
It has been an eventful year. I didn’t have time to mention goalkeeper problems, last minute goals, lack of subs, anti and pro Parish divide, rubbish transfer windows, this year’s home kit being the same almost as a few seasons ago, unlucky black kit, youth team winning league, Freddie Ladapo, that Bristol City loss and Chris Grierson asking a young Brighton fan at halftime who his favourite Chelsea player.
I think Palace can build on this season to have less eventful and more boring season next year. That’s what I felt last season and the regression at the start of the season was so bad that I am happy to be the same position as last season. If Palace finishes in the same position next year I would probably still be happy.