We are staying up, say we are staying up!
Palace are indeed mathematically safe from relegation, and the FYP podcast team revel in the Eagles' new awesomeness - in particular the wins at Everton and West Ham.
They also look forward to the visit of Man City and answer your tweets and Facebook questions.
So join Jim Daly, Andy Street, Kevin Day and James Endeacott for 50 minutes of Palace chat!
And check out the podcast's lovely sponsors Vektor Printing!
Mathematically safe! Palace have secured their Premier League status for next season thanks to a 1-0 win at West Ham! Here's Mark Gardiner's thoughts.
Palace stunned West Ham with the perfect display of counter-attacking football, teaching the so-called “Football Academy” a real lesson. Five straight top-flight League wins and the dizzy heights of 43 points mean nothing short of a Vincent Tan inspired points deducting conspiracy will deny us the joys of Premier League football for a second successive season. This result was the final vindication of Tony Pulis’s management reign at Selhurst Park, leaving the doubters – and that includes me – with a very healthy & satisfying portion of humble pie. The achievement of his teams – on & off field – is one of the greatest managerial feats most Palace fans can remember, probably ranking alongside Steve Coppell keeping the (first) Administration squad of the young, old, lame and bloody awful in the second flight.
Said manager made one enforced change with KG replacing the unfit Chamakh, with Ledley filling – at least nominally – the position behind the lone striker. Sam Allardyce sent out a similar formation, with two attacking wingers and the efficient Nolan as support to the giant Carroll. This resulted in two teams playing the ball down both flanks, while anything down the middle tended to be long. The difference was that whereas everything for the Hammers was aimed for Carroll to win in the air, Palace had the option of playing the ball over the top for Jerome to run after. Neither tactic was particularly effective although Nolan was able to supply more close support to his striker than Ledley was for Jerome. Again both sides were happier using wingers and there was an early chance for Carroll whose far post header struck the outside of the stanchion. Generally though Carroll was well policed by either Delaney or Dann, who picked him up depending upon which side of the box he was.
Palace then created a little pressure, winning a succession of corners thanks mostly to the efforts of Bolasie on the left, and from one of those corners KG rose for what looked an unchallenged header that looked bound to end up in the opposite side of the goal but somehow stayed out; Dann also had a decent chance from a similar position a little later. West Ham’s wingers were also having some success with Downing creating problems for Ward, but the pace of Palace’s breaks were the real difference between the teams, so different from the laboured build-ups of no more than two months ago. Jedinak’s storming game in the middle also helped delay any real Hammers’ pressure, and it was not until nearly half an hour had gone before they exerted real pressure. Speroni had already tipped over one effort from distance, then Carroll started to win balls in the box, getting the better of Delaney on three occasions: merely seconds after blocking a shot at the foot of one post, Julian clawed a Carroll header out of the net at the other. The centre forward was to put another harder chance wide a little later. Although the home team’s spurt died off before half-time the game was in the balance.
Carroll was also the leading figure at the start of the second half with three decent half-chances all spurned. Slowly the match started to slip towards the visitors with Bolasie tearing McCartney apart on the left while Puncheon was gaining the upper hand on the other flank over the “liability” (cf. My Hammers’ mate) Armero. Combined with Jerome’s hard running and Jedinak’s steel the West Ham defence appeared vulnerable, and the only surprise was that it wasn’t Bolasie who unlocked it. Puncheon had a loud but not convincing appeal for a penalty turned down a few minutes before he fed Jerome who broke into the box, this time drawing a trip from Armero; referee Atkinson rightly awarded the penalty, and Jedinak’s finish from the spot was clinical and unstoppable.
Although the Irons tried to muscle their way back in the game, from that point on it really became a question of whether Palace could add to their advantage as counter attacks shredded the home team’s cover as Bolasie’s brilliance and the skill of Puncheon was too much for them. Unfortunately Palace decided to play like Arsenal and were brilliant up to the edge of the box when they decided to score the perfect goal. Jerome was left screaming in frustration as chances were carved out but wasted, with the two wingers, Ward & Ledley all delaying shots or trying one little reverse pas too many. It seems strange (& frankly hypocritical) to moan about a Pulis team playing too much football! West Ham’s response was typical Big Sam, ditching any pretence of following the Football Academy textbook and going straight for Route One, withdrawing both wingers and sticking another tall lad up front in Carlton Cole; actually Downing & Jarvis, who had swapped wings in the second half, had gradually faded from the game in the second half, and Diamé looked far more dangerous on the left than he had in midfield. Palace responded by withdrawing our own two wingers with Parr & Ledley shoring up the flanks and Gabbidon helping repel the aerial assault. In the end skill at pace outwitted the thud & blunder that stoked the home fans’ ire, and the after-match celebrations from the squad confirmed the great teamwork & spirit that had achieved safety against all the odds.
Speroni – 7 – On a couple of occasions I thought Julian could have helped out his defenders against Carroll by coming for crosses, but then that’s never really been his style, and he did grab all those that threatened his six-yard box. Apart from this minor nit-picking, he again did nothing wrong and made two important saves inside a couple of seconds, the later one keeping out Carroll’s header with a fine reflex reaction. Second half saw him collect some easier efforts.
Ward – 7 – Had some difficulty against Downing in the first half, and some of his clearances lacked power &/or direction, causing more problems, but he also made at least three important interceptions in the first half. He also found it easier against Jarvis in the second half. Was an important factor is supporting Bolasie’s attacks.
Mariappa – 7 – First half generally handled Jarvis well and made some important clearances, not least with his head. Second half was more stretched as first Downing then Diamé caused him problems, but he was also prominent in supporting Puncheon in attacks down the right.
Delaney – 7 – At first looked to have the upper hand over Carroll but the big man escaped him three times and nearly made Palace pay. More difficult to tell from the far end who should have been picking Carroll up in the second half when he had his half chances. On all other occasions was a rock with plenty of headers and one sublime back-heeled clearance.
Dann – 7 – Looked to have handled Carroll better overall than Damien although the second half was more difficult to tell when he was taking the big man. Another impressive performance but perhaps should have done better with an early header.
Dikgacoi – 6 – Solid enough game but sometimes his passing was woefully poor, and still trying to figure out how his header didn’t go in. Also missed a good chance with a wayward shot in the first half.
Jedinak – 8 – Alright, his passing wasn’t perfect but he played enough good ones to make a real difference. Where he really shone was in his tackling and especially his aerial prowess with some important headers at the back. His penalty wasn’t too shabby either!
Ledley – 6 – Thought he had a quiet game overall, with his lack of pace handicapping his ability to support Jerome. Did the dirty work well with solid tackles in the centre.
Puncheon – 8 – Looks a completely different player to that from the turn of the year, playing with confidence – perhaps too much confidence given his penchant for over-elaboration after we went a goal ahead. Still it was that skill that helped remove the left hinge of the Irons’ defence and he tormented Armero.
Bolasie – 8 – Did pull out his usual box of tricks but also decided the best way to attack McCartney was to knock the ball past him and turn on the afterburners. In the second half this pace didn’t unhinge the defence as much as knock the whole door in. How he did not end up with a goal or at least an assist beats me, and perhaps his colleagues wasted some of his effort with an unwillingness to shoot when given the chance. Also continued to work hard at tracking back, something Pulis (& Millen) can take credit for.
Jerome – 7 – Lots of hard running as usual and some excellent link play with both wingers, although again didn’t get many chances on goal and could have been better served on occasion by colleagues who didn’t pass when he’d found space. Did draw an unwise challenge from Armero to win the penalty.
Murray – 6 – Replaced Jerome and committed a couple of fouls but never really had a sight of goal as Palace dropped a little deeper & withdrew the speedy wingers.
Gabbidon – 6 – Late sub to help repel the East End Air Force and marked it with one firm header.
Parr – N/A – Injury time sub to help Mariappa shore up the right.
The BBC this morning revealed that it had obtained a copy of the letter sent to the Premier League by Cardiff City which claims that Palace, in particular, Iain Moody, obtained their team line-up through unfair means prior to Palace's 3-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium. Resident FYP lawyer Andy Street gives his expert view on the situation.
The claims include the suggestion that Palace's sporting director attempted to obtain the team sheet by phoning the Cardiff City performance analyst - who has subsequently been sacked by the club - although he was unsuccessful in his endeavours.
In an even more bizarre twist, Cardiff have claimed that after Moody had discovered the line-up, he mistakenly sent a text message to former Palace boss Dougie Freedman with the information; before Freedman alerted his friend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about the leak. The BBC explained that the document sent to the Premier League notes that Cardiff midfielder Aron Gunnarsson is named as the source of the leak; something which the player and his agent both have denied.
We asked our resident lawyer, Andy Street to give us his view on the situation, and he believes there is nothing for Palace fans to worry about.
"As all Palace fans will now be aware, Cardiff’s complaint to the Premier League is made on the basis of its allegation that Iain Moody obtained information relating to the Bluebirds’ starting line-up for the match at the Cardiff City Stadium. Cardiff’s complaint alleges breaches of three of the Premier League’s regulations, as contained in its 2013-2014 Handbook.
The first of those, Rule B.15, imposes an obligation upon Premier League clubs to behave towards one another and towards the League in “good faith”. This provision of the Premier League’s regulations is drafted widely in an attempt to impose a uniform standard of behaviour upon Clubs, not only in their interactions between one another, but also with the League. The second breach alleged by Cardiff arises from Rule B.16. This Rule precludes Premier League clubs from unfairly “criticising, belittling or discrediting one another or the [Premier] League”. This regulation is also drafted in a fairly broad and vague manner with no suggestion as to the level of criticism, disparagement or belittlement required to breach the regulation.
The third alleged breach, of Rule B.17, relates to the disclosure or use of confidential information relating to another club or the Premier League. The BBC report suggests that the most serious allegation is the purported breach of Rule B.17. However, it would be surprising were the Premier League’s board to find that text messages relating to a club’s likely line-up for an upcoming match amounted to confidential information for the purposes of this particular regulation. In fact, B17 specifically mentions business and financial information of clubs and the League, rather than anything relating to sporting matters. While the regulation is incredibly non-specific and could catch a variety of information, it seems a stretch to infer that it applies to the type of information involved in this dispute. This allegation also raises the question of whether, on Cardiff’s analysis that the team line-up amounted to confidential information for the purposes of B.17, the Bluebirds are themselves in breach by disclosing the line-up in the first place.
Rules B.15-B.17 are drafted fairly widely, it would seem, in order to catch various behaviours which relate to the relationship between the League and its member clubs. It seems unlikely that the League, when drawing up its Rules, would have envisaged these particular regulations applying to the type of situation in which Palace now find themselves. My reading of the Rules is that they were drafted to prevent clubs acting in a manner which is contrary to the interests of the League as a whole and to prevent the disclosure of confidential matters relating to the League which may be sensitive, such as EPPP and the previously proposed 39th game. It would seem strange if they were intended to apply to undefined actions which attempt to gain a competitive advantage over other clubs that are not expressly forbidden in the Rules, particularly given that certain types of grave behaviour which are to the detriment of other clubs (such as tapping up) are expressly prohibited.
In terms of the League’s investigatory powers, matters are first investigated by the Premier League Board. The Board can compel Palace or Iain Moody or Cardiff to offer up any documents or to provide further information as necessary, should they believe there may be a breach of the Rules. The Board has jurisdiction to decide whether there is a case to answer and to impose sanctions upon clubs where they are already prescribed in the Rules. So if, for example, a fine for a specific breach is provided for in the Premier League Handbook, the Board is able to impose such a sanction. The Board can also impose a fine of up to £25,000 or refer the matter onto a Premier League Disciplinary Commission. A Commission has a broad set of discretionary sanctions it may impose including points deductions, the replaying of matches or unlimited fines in the most extreme of circumstances.
That said, even in the unlikely event that the Premier League believes that Palace and Iain Moody’s alleged behaviour amounts to a breach of its Rules, the imposition of a points deduction would be completely unprecedented. The Premier League has only ever imposed a points deduction upon a Premier League club once, when Portsmouth appointed an administrator in 2009. The League’s rules impose a fixed points deduction as a penalty for clubs who enter administration, so this was a fairly straightforward decision for the League. In all other instances where the League has had discretion as to the sanctions imposed on clubs for breaches of its Rules, it has avoided deducting points. So even the highly controversial Tevez saga, which was a serious breach across many matches and which had a material impact on the final Premier League table, did not result in a points deduction. It seems unlikely that the Premier League would radically depart from that approach and impose draconian sanctions upon Palace, even if it was satisfied that a breach had occurred.
Moreover, given the extent of Palace’s rights to appeal of any decision of a Premier League Disciplinary Commission, it seems unlikely the League would risk taking such an approach. Under the Premier League’s Rules, clubs can appeal firstly to a Premier League Appeal Board if not satisfied with a decision, and can then enter an independent arbitration against the League itself. The West Ham situation, and the recent decision relating to Sunderland's Ki, proved that the League is reticent to intervene by affecting the outcome of individual matches or the final league table. I would expect that trend to be continued in this instance."
Crystal Palace's academy manager Gary Issott revealed the list of players who have been released by the club and those who have gone on to earn professional contracts from the u18 side; with decisions on those in the u21 side to be made in the next week. However, he also called for more to be done to support the youngsters who are released by professional academies, in the long term.
Issott explained that two second year scholars had come to the end of their deals and would not be offered professional contracts with the club, and he described how difficult it is to tell a youngster that they will be let go, whilst claiming that not enough support is provided for youngsters when they are released from academies.
"It's tough [to tell a player they no longer have a career at Crystal Palace] but I think the hardest one is telling the u16s where you're almost stopping them having the opportunity and the dream really. There's an exit route where we can give them a route into foreign clubs, into education and also into the world of employment.
The harsh reality is that probably football doesn't do enough for those who get released. In most jobs if you leave, you can go and get another one, in football there's no guarantees you can do that. In football you lose your self-esteem, you lose that status of being a pro and you lose a lot of friends and it's a bit of rejection. It generally takes about two years to get it out of your system (being released) and some lads don't come back from the disappointment. I think football needs to do more and maybe there should be a charity set up to help these players.
The LFE [League Football Education] and the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] have done some good work but there's still not enough in football as a whole to help these young players. You help them as much as you can with those exit routes but then come the next batch of players that need all your attention and then the next batch... You could employ regional people who could look after a cluster of clubs. It goes on for two years and they probably need ongoing support for a long time after they leave."
Ultimately, there is little support in place for young players whose dreams have been shattered. The introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has ensured that clubs school their youngsters and educate them to a level that ensures they are capable of maintaining a career outside of football should they fail to make the grade. Palace currently work alongside the Oasis Academy to bring through young scholars and help minimise the disruption to their schooling. Issott is right in calling for more support for youngsters who have grown up with one main goal in life only to have it taken away from them; but it is questionable as to whether any changes will actually be implemented.
Former Crystal Palace players Simon Orborn and Robert Quinn will once again don the famous red and blue to try and help fans beat arch rivals Brighton in a charity match.
On Friday May 2nd supporters from both clubs will meet at the Dripping Pan stadium in Lewes for the 13th annual Robert Eaton Memorial Fund match.
The club's famous Crystals cheerleaders will be in attendance, as will mascots Pete and Alice the Eagles.
The Seagulls currently lead 8-4 in the series and Palace fans will be keen to claw back a result - with the help of Osborn and Quinn.
The REMF fund was set up after Brighton fan Robert Eaton was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York City in 2001 and has since raised more than £100,000 for disadvantaged children in America, Sussex, Croydon and Africa.
The games are fiercely contested - obviously - with plenty of tasty challenges. Just ask former Albion star Peter Ward who was kicked all over the park during his first involvement in the annual game in 2009. He will be turning out for the Seagulls this year again.
Organising the Palace team this year - who will be decked in the evil sash kit - is Five Year Plan editor Jim Daly and he is desperate for the Eagles to win.
"We've lost the last two years to slender score lines so it's time to bring the trophy back to South London," he said.
“Obviously, it is a brilliant cause, which helps underprivileged kids in Sussex, Croydon and America and it’s great to be able to help out each year, but I’d be lying if I said the result didn’t matter.
"We're delighted Simon and Robert are giving up their time to help us out too in the true spirit of charity and what the night is all about!"
To see if Osborn and Quinn can help the Palace fans to a victory this year come down to the Dripping Pan in Lewes on Friday May 2nd. Kick-off is 7.45pm and entry is £5 with U16s £2 (or free if accompanied adult)
For more information or to donate to the fund visit remf.org.uk
As Palace's fourth Premier League season draws to a close, it seemed improbable - impossible maybe - that we would be sitting here discussing the Eagles' survival with almost a month to go, let alone the merits of the man at the helm in SE25 taking home the award for Manager of the Year. Yet Tony Pulis is the second favourite - behind Brendan Rodgers - at the bookies, to win the award. Tom Lickley takes a look at just why the man who transformed Palace this season should be crowned Manager of the Year.
Tony Pulis – Manager – and motivator – of the year
I had my doubts when, after a month of speculation, Tony Pulis was announced as Crystal Palace manager on the morning of Saturday 23rd November just hours before a visit to Hull City. The lack of excitement amongst the Eagles’ faithful was palpable. Without a win in eight - despite a small upturn in form under caretaker manager Keith Millen - perhaps some were looking for a more inspirational figure. Many viewed Pulis as a long ball merchant, without the glitz and glamour of some of the names we had been linked to, such as former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu. Granted, there were a number of supporters who felt Pulis would be the man to keep Palace in the division, but fans and commentators alike were strapping themselves in for what they perceived to be six months of hard grind, with the possibility of safety a tiny speck of light at the end of a long, gloomy tunnel.
How wrong we were. Even the most optimistic Palace fan must have refused to even entertain the notion that the Eagles would be preparing for another season in the top flight with almost a month to spare. Many are drooling at the prospect of a stunning top half finish and quite possibly the second best season in Palace’s 109-year history. Yet it hasn’t taken a QPR-esque injection of funds to haul the Eagles up the table; indeed, only Scott Dann and Joe Ledley have brought fresh blood to the side, and even then, they replaced Danny Gabbidon and Barry Bannan, both perceived to be solid performers in an otherwise poor side pre-Pulis.
There can only really be one figure who underpins the Eagles’ phenomenal switch in form; the Welshman in the cap.
Without spending tens of millions on fresh blood, just how has Pulis transformed the Eagles into pre-season favourites for the 2014/15 Championship crown into a side which can look with some considerable excitement into a solid Premier League future?
Let’s look at the key improvements on the pitch.
Even ardent fans of the most popular Argentinian this side of Barcelona would admit that Julian Speroni was having a below par season prior to Pulis’ appointment. A gradual upturn in form commenced following Pulis’ arrival, but it was the signing of Wayne Hennessey which pushed a resurgence from Speroni– to the extent that many Palace fans are now calling for a new contract for the long serving goalkeeper, which should provide a welcome headache for Pulis in the close season.
Scott Dann is the only new face in the defence and many had their doubts about the ex-Blackburn defender following a few iffy performances after signing. And yet, Dann’s improvement in form has coincided with the team’s. The left back conundrum has been resolved by an out of position Joel Ward with Adrian Mariappa filling in at right back. A few miserable displays under Pulis whilst he worked on the defence has reaped rich rewards, and it is some achievement that Palace have so far conceded fewer goals than champions-in-waiting Liverpool.
Whilst many were initially confused at the removal of in-form Barry Bannan from the team to accommodate Joe Ledley, the assured performances of the Welsh international has solidified the midfield and perhaps more importantly restored the form of Mile Jedinak; allowing the Australian captain to focus on heading and tackling duties rather than his weaker distribution.
Little has changed in attack in terms of faces, and yet the form of both Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie has surged under Pulis. Even the much maligned Cameron Jerome has put in some vital performances, the initial fear that his relationship with the manager was rocky following the latter’s departure from the Britannia has proved unfounded.
So, Pulis for Manager of the Year? It was quoted in many sources before the West Ham game that Palace would be eighth in the table had the season begun at Pulis’ appointment. For a team which ended the Championship season on a terrible run, and continued that poor form into the first quarter of the Premier League, that statistic is remarkable. Obvious credit is due to Brendan Rogers in hauling Liverpool to the brink of a first shock title in 24 years, and a couple of miles down the road Roberto Martinez is doing a fine job in his first season in charge of Everton. But can anyone, fan, player or pundit alike truly admit they thought Crystal Palace would be sitting in eleventh in mid-April after the players trudged off the Selhurst Park turf following Fulham’s 4-1 demolition in October?
Overall, what Pulis has brought is belief. Praise is due to Keith Millen for beginning the process, after Ian Holloway credibly admitted the job was too much to handle, but what Pulis has proved is the old cliché – there really is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. There are better squads occupying the nine – yes, nine – positions below Palace in the table, but aside from perhaps both Merseyside clubs, no team has better team spirit, and no side works harder for each other. This is the true power of Tony Pulis; he has welded together an assortment of loose nuts and bolts into one hell of a machine.