Five league wins in 2016.
Worst points-per-game record in England (0.7)
Six-game losing run.
No clean sheet since April and 26 goals conceded from just 13 games, with only 11 points, too.
Yet this time last season, Crystal Palace were climbing their way up to a lofty sixth place in the Premier League, with European dreams firmly blurring the more realistic view in their fans’ rose-tinted glasses.
“We’ve got ourselves into 6th position and we want to fight and stay there, that’s really our priority. But to fight there means you have to look up, and we’re looking up, and that’s the type of manager I am.”
Alan Pardew, December 2015
Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Lord Voldemort’s previously bottom of the table Swansea City means that things aren’t getting much better for the Palace faithful, either. It would appear all that looking up has had them tripping over their own feet.
But hold on, it gets worse. The recent announcement that the former Palace academy graduate and rapid winger; Wilfried Zaha, has decided to take his international allegiances over to the Ivory Coast means that the Eagles will most likely be without a key player throughout the African Cup of Nations tournament. But there’s more. Joint-third top scorer and FA Cup hero, Connor Wickham, sustained a serious knee injury in Saturday’s game that could see him sidelined for the majority of the remaining season. Finally, before you draw out your violins for the Palace fans, hear this; French ‘keeper, Steve Mandanda, has recently called his future in South London into question in a recent interview with French TV. Cue violins… Now.
Steve Mandanda: “Could I end up at a bigger English club? It will depend on my performances. In football, anything is possible.” (Téléfoot)
— Get French Football (@GFFN) November 27, 2016
It would seem therefore, for want of a better phrase, that Crystal Palace are very far up shit creak and very much without a paddle.
Or are they?
Over the summer, the Eagles made some truly inspired signings that saw an already competent squad boosted rather substantially. The likes of Christian Benteke, Loic ‘I’m older than you think’ Remy (29?!) and Andros Townsend joined the ranks among Yohan Cabaye, Wilfired Zaha and Jason Puncheon. Not to mention the imperious centre-back partnership of Scott Dann and James Tomkins and the aforementioned Steve Mandanda in place to sure-up the defence. Hell, they even squeezed the former Arsenal tank, Mathieu Flamini, into the bargain.
They have 16 former or current internationals to date on the roster. It’s not actually a bad squad at all; it’s certainly one not designed to be fighting relegation. So up shit creak, yes. Without a paddle? Apparently not.
So, the problem must lie in the gaffer. Everyone’s most Marmite-ish silver fox currently sits at the helm of the sinking HMS Eagle. Yep, Alan Pardew.
Whilst Palace fans haven’t gone full Newcastle mode with ‘pardewout.com’ just yet, there is certainly a divided air of discontent for the man around the club, which has only been fueled by a defensive shit-fest on Saturday.
But it would seem that he’s not going anytime too soon. Steve Parish, Palace’s most prominent chairman, has shown unwavering faith in Pardiola throughout his stint. Yes, we fear it’s an inappropriate nickname too, but anyway, the man himself came out over the weekend declaring that:
“I’m certainly strong enough and I’ve been here before. I know how it works. I think I’ve got a good team. I’m going to get them motivated.”
The problem for AP is, Palace aren’t just on a bad run of form after a turbulent few games. It’s been all year. And the players are 100% committed to the club as was seen by the almost 11 men almost shedding tears as they applauded the vocal fans on Saturday. Unfortunately, this problem does seem to lie solely at the feet of Mr Pardew’s door as first diagnosed. We’re sure that the idea doesn’t actually bring much sympathy from most of you: you heartless, unforgiving bastards.
If you want a laugh, just look at some of these names? pic.twitter.com/VOMFqXggF3
— Five Year Plan (@FYPFanzine) November 28, 2016
Reportedly the fella has been given two games to turn things around by Palace’s American share holders. Alas, this actually means quite little as said two games are against Southampton and Hull City; both teams languishing in and around the bottom half. Oh, and only a point is needed, it would seem.
So, for the near future, Pards is sticking around.
And as long as he is, the situation at Palace just seems to be getting worse. Next week we’ll hear news of the closure of Just For Men and the shiny gaffer will lose his one, last redeeming, silvery feature. Unfortunately, it would appear, the glow of an FA Cup final and 10th place finish in 2015 has worn off at Selhurst Park. And who can be surprised?
In the 83 games Pardew has taken charge of at Crystal Palace, we’ve had 10 clean sheets.
Tony Pulis had 11 in his first 24 games in charge.
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) November 28, 2016
It’s easy to disregard the situation in SE25 due to an individual disliking for Pardew, who does himself few favours (David Meyler headbutt, anyone?) but we do feel for the loyal fans wrapped up in all this. Not once have they collective chastised Pardew. And we all know that Palace have an infamously passionate core group of fans, currently torn in two minds about what their wishes are for the future of their club. Faith in Pardew or no faith in Pardew? Pardew in or Pardew out? It’s a tough choice but; whatever happens, he needs to pull his finger out, for the fans’ sake more so than his. The halcyon days of Palace’s Euro-visions are fast turning into faded memories of an imagined Tuesday night in rainy, grey Bulgaria. So you can’t stop with the violins just yet, lads.