Five Year Plan

Fanzine and Blog for fans of Crystal Palace Football Club

Eye on the Opposition: Hull City (H) (25/4/2015)

Another former unpopular Palace manager comes back to Selhurst hoping for a win. Here's Jack Pierce's preview of the arrival of Hull and Steve Bruce.

With four weeks of the season to go, one of the sides on show at Selhurst Park on Saturday is slap bang in the middle of the scrap to stay up... and it's NOT our lot!

When Palace supporters had a look at the fixtures after they came out last summer, some may have looked at this fixture and thought it was probably our last viable chance of picking up points before the daunting run of matches May had in store. Well, the pressure's off as far as trying to avoid the drop but that certainly isn't the case for Saturday's opponents. Hull City are perilously close to the drop zone and know that the three clubs currently occupying the bottom three spots are eyeing them up and are well within reach of overtaking them by the end of the season.

If Hull were to be relegated, decisions would have to be made. Would Steve Bruce be kept on? Which players' wages need to be off the books? Will they sign an actual tiger in a bid to rebrand the club?

Bruce's future is an interesting one. The man seems to have built himself quite a favourable reputation, particularly within the media, despite never really achieving anything of note. He's quite well travelled but remains to have taken a club to that 'next level'. The bubble burst for him at Sunderland and in spite of a very good first campaign with Hull following promotion last season, this season has seem them struggle near the foot of the table for most of the term. Even if Hull were to avoid the drop, it's not too difficult to imagine a parting of manager and club in the close season. If he were to leave the club, relegated or not, the likelihood is Bruce would be back in a dugout before too long as he seems to be a liked man in football circles.

Bruce to Newcastle, anyone?

Players-wise, Hull have built themselves quite a hefty wage bill. The likes of Tom Huddlestone, Nikica Jelavic and Michael Dawson, established Premier League players, are likely to be earning substantial sums; sums that probably aren't viable for a club in the Championship to be paying. The question is, would any of the players attract bids from the top flight during the summer?

If you looked at Hull's and Palace's squads, ask yourself whether there are any Hull players you would want in a Palace shirt next season. Robbie Brady perhaps but other than that, there's nothing too tempting.

Aside from relegation, the other battle currently taking place at The KC is the battle to avoid the club changing its name and becoming a Hull City Tigers. If it were to be sanctioned, it's difficult to see who would actually refer to the new name but it's easy to see why and how Hull supporters have their issues about such a rebranding taking place.

As Palace fans, just consider Crystal Palace Eagles. Thank god we don't have American owners who already have two US sport franch...

Oh.

A positive result for Palace on Saturday is likely to mathematically guarantee our place in the top flight next season. Such a result could also put Hull one step closer to the drop. Four of their last five matches are against Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. On the looks of it, Saturday’s fixture in SE25 does represent, as West Brom proved on Saturday, a realistic chance to add some much needed points to their worryingly low tally.

Follow Jack on Twitter


 

FYP Podcast 137 - West Brom, Hull and Terry Byfield worshipping the devil

Jim, Andy, Kevin and James are back a few days later than usual to look back over Palace's defeat to West Brom and you-know-who's return to Selhurst.

They also answer your Twitter and Facebook questions.

Click on one of the links below to download!

Stream FYP Podcast 136 on Soundcloud here

Download and subscribe via iTunes here

And check out the podcast's lovely sponsors Vektor Printing


Former Palace star to don the red and blue against for charity match vs Brighton

Former Palace defender Darren Powell will turn out for a team of Eagles fans as they take on Brighton supporters in an annual charity match on Friday night.

The Robert Eaton Memorial Fund match has seen fans from Palace and Brighton play each other every year since the September 11th attacks where Seagulls fan Robert lost his life.

Friends of his set up the funs in his name which has since raised over more than £200,000 for underprivileged children in New York, Sussex, Croydon and Africa.

Palace fans won the first ever game on penalties after a 4-4 draw but went on to lose six on the bounce and currently trail in the series 9-6. They won last year and are looking to do the same on Friday night in Lewes.

They will have Powell, who played for Palace between 2002 and 2005 in their ranks. He is most well remembered for scoring a 95th minute equaliser against Sunderland in the playoff semi-final match in 2004 to take it to penalties. Palace won and went to Wembley where they beat West Ham to earn promotion.

Alongside Powell in defence will be another former Eagles man Robert Quinn, who came up through the youth team ranks at Palace and made appearances in the first team. Quinn scored Palace's goal last year as the REMF 2014 game ended 1-1 with the Eagles winning on penalties.

The rest of the team is made up of Palace fans, including FYP podcast host Jim Daly, who co-managed the team to success last year.

The game kicks off at 7.45pm on Friday evening - April 24th - at the Dripping Pan stadium in Lewes. Tickets are £5 adults on the door and £2 for under 16s (who can also get in free is accompanied by an adult).

Anyone who can't make the game but would like to donate to the REMF can do so here and also find out more about the work the charity does here.


 

Crystal Palace prospects earn contract extensions

Crystal Palace have offered new contracts to Jake Gray, Ryan Inniss, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Connor Dymond and Luke Croll.

Jake Gray 4

Gray, signed from Wycombe in 2012, has impressed since joining Palace and spent part of this season on loan at Cheltenham making an assist in his three starts, while Inniss' impressive loan spell at Port Vale was cut short by injury.

Binnom-Williams has spent the season on loan at Southend, moving into the centre of defence and playing regularly, impressing. 

Both Dymond and Croll have been with the club from a young age and moved up from the U18 side at the beginning of last season, but the pair have not been regulars in the U21 side this season.

Midfielder Kyle de Silva, who made several appearances under Dougie Freedman in the Championship has been released after a string of injuries took their toll, leaving him with almost two years without playing a competitive match. At 22, the club has decided it is too late for him to breakthrough into the first team and released him. 

Also let go are strikers Morgan Ferrier and Fisayo Adarabioyo, as well as midfielder Ghassimu Sow and former England youth international defender Sam Magri. 


 

Crystal Palace 0-2 West Brom: Results and analysis from Selhurst

Just had to happen didn't it? Pulis returned to Selhrust and won. Here's Mark Gardiner's assessment...

I know that distance lends enchantment, but were we really that unattractive to watch last season? Tony Pulis left us on the end of a typical Tony Pulis team performance – hard working, organised and not above breaking the game up with niggling fouls and time wasting from an early point in the game. Despite having the lion’s share of the ball Palace battered away but one sensed that the footballing gods had decreed we could play until midnight & still not score. All that good fortune we had against City? We saw none of that today as 50/50 decisions always appeared to go against us, loose balls would invariably spin away from Palace players and the cutting edge of recent weeks was dulled. It wasn’t that Palace were particularly poor, just that Albion were able to sit back in numbers and force us to play from deep. On a plus point I’ve lost the “9” key this morning.

Pardew’s team selection was intriguing, with Ledley coming in at left back with two specialist full backs on the bench, but more so was the deployment of resources in a 4-2-3-1 formation: it soon became clear that Puncheon had dropped deep alongside Jedinak with McArthur playing in the hole. However even before that Palace had gone a goal down, conceding a corner when our first attack broke down: Morrison had the freedom of Selhurst Park (well, our penalty area...) to put a free header past Speroni; it looked like Puncheon lost his footing and didn’t pick up the run. As an aside doubts about the pitch’s quality continue as players from both sides slipped & slid throughout the match.

88 minutes to recover and Palace nearly allowed a run from deep by Morrison to double the deficit, his shot deflected past Julian’s far post, before we started the assault, primarily down the right where Zaha had the beating of Brunt. The left side was not exploited so much, in part because Ledley lacked the pace to effectively support Bolasie, and was guilty of lobbing aimless balls into the box for Myhill or his giant defenders to gobble up; Yannick rarely exploited Dawson’s similar slowness in the first half. Wilf’s crosses seldom found a colleague so deep did Albion defend, and when they did Murray wasn’t quite sharp enough to work Myhill. Wilf was thumped to the ground for a seemingly certain penalty only for both officials to somehow miss it, and our best chance came from a Bolasie bicycle kick, well saved by Myhill. Palace started to pump more high balls from deep but for once Murray wasn’t as effective as normal in winning these aerial battles.

The second half started with two substitutions and a change in formation: Souaré came on for Ledley, probably based upon performance; more surprisingly Jedinak was replaced by Gayle – had Mile taken a knock – and we moved to 4-4-2 with McArthur dropping back with Puncheon. In fact so deep did both midfielders drop at times they were standing a few yards ahead of the central defenders when receiving the ball.

Palace did start with a bang and looked to have carried the momentum from the first half into the second, with Souaré in particular providing extra pace & width down the left, which gave Bolasie more freedom and opportunities to stretch the defence, and most of our best attacks this half would come down the left flank. Yet we were soon two down from a corner given although the ball did not appear to cross the line. Typical of our luck the corner was cleared but Gardner (untrustworthy family!) thumped the ball home from 30 yards; yet another unstoppable bullet past Julian made it three blinders conceded in the last three how games.

Palace heads did drop a little, although Bolasie & Souaré down one side and Zaha down the other always gave us hope, but Gayle could just not get into the game. The best chance came when Souaré's excellent cross was missed by both Murray & Gayle in turn, the latter having little reaction time and the ball hit him then clipped the bar. Murray would miss another decent chance later on while Delaney would force a save from Myhill from a corner but most of our set piece delivery was poor, and a number of short corners were tried with little success and rising frustration.

Albion could have really rubbed it in, McArthur clearing off the line (and looking to injure himself in the process) while hesitation between Dann & Delaney was rescued by Julian’s only save of the match. Sanogo was stripped ready to come on, presumably for Murray, when McArthur was lamed, so Palace ended the match with the seldom glimpsed midfield duo of Puncheon & Murray. The match was summed up when Souaré supplied another good cross only for Sanogo’s “goal” to be ruled out for offside.

Ratings:

Speroni – 6 – No chance with either goal – a point-blank free header and another thumped inside the far post from distance.

Ward – 5 – Thought it was one of Joel’s less impressive performances, summed up late on when he ran with the ball straight into an opponent, who robbed him easily and set off an Albion counter-attack. He’d started by losing possession upfield that led to their corner & first goal. His game looked a little careworn and he was one of many who decided that long balls from deep onto Albion’s penalty spot was a good idea. Did have moments supporting Zaha in attack, his deep cross setting up Bolasie’s acrobatic effort (yes, I know, a long ball from deep that worked...). 

Ledley – 4 – Lacks the pace to be an effective Premier League full back and seldom supported Bolasie down the left, reduced to the long ball... you know the rest.

Delaney – 6 – Decent enough game, the only major error I noted was the “after you” interlude with Dann that nearly cost us a third goal. Tried hard to push the team forward and did at least force a save from Myhill with a glancing header.

Dann – 6 – Pretty much the same as Damien with the exception that he was never found from set pieces.

Jedinak – 5 – Not the force he usually was in the middle, blasting over Palace’s last chance of the first half and lucky not to concede a penalty for holding on Anichebe. Maybe he took a knock, as subbed at half time, or perhaps just rusty after his extended layoff. Just a shame he didn’t save the West Ham elbow for Dawson...

Puncheon – 6 – Mixed bag from Jason playing in a less familiar deeper role. Saw a lot of the ball but unable to find the incisive passes to unlock the massed defence. Set piece delivery was just as variable. Not sure how much the finger of blame for Morrison’s goal should be pointed in his direction and how much the pitch as he did seem to slip at the vital moment.

McArthur – 6 – Quiet game from James in a more advanced role, usually not close enough to Murray to help the striker out. Appeared to take a knock when clearing off the line (how many is that this season?) and limped off.

Zaha – 7 – Best performer in the first half when his skill and efforts were not rewarded by colleagues or officials. Much more willing to try and find a team mate instead of trying to do it all himself. Saw less of him in the second but he still created problems for Albion down the right.

Bolasie – 7 – Lack of support down the left saw Yannick have a quieter first half than Wilf, although his acrobatic bicycle kick was the closest we came to a legal goal. With Souaré’s support after half time saw far more of the ball and was far more dangerous without forcing a goal. Stupid and poorly executed dive saw him rightly booked.

Murray – 5 – A bit of a letdown after his recent run of excellent form, Glenn was well policed by Albion’s central defenders, and when chances came his way in both halves he wasn’t sharp enough to turn them on target.

Subs:

Gayle – 4 – Anonymous for almost all the 45 minutes he was on, with the exception of the chance he missed. To be fair on second viewing he was perhaps deceived by Murray’s attempted flick (why not just crash it in, Glenn?) and the ball was on him very quickly. Should he have captured Gardner’s move on the cleared corner for the second?

Souaré – 7 – Excellent performance in the second half, great display of the overlapping full back, setting up a handful of chances with pace & accurate crossing. Not stretched defensively and that will be the aspect of the game he will need to work on but looks a stunning prospect for next season.

Sanogo – 5 – Didn’t impress in his limited time on the pitch, and moved too soon for his “goal”.


 

Jonny Williams lurking in the shadows at Ipswich Town, ready to pounce

Harry Wainwright says it's all quiet on the Eastern Front and fears life so far with Jonny Williams at Portman Road may never be the same again after the talented Welshman's injury earlier in the season.

“Feck it - I was hoping we would lose. I can handle the disappointment. It’s the hope I struggle with.” This memorable comment posted by a fellow Tractor Boy this time last year was resurrected after a memorable 3-1 win over Cardiff. The victory left us three points clear of Brentford and Wolves in the race for the last play-off place in this season’s version of Championship musical chairs.

Palace fans have had different things to entertain them this year, such as witnessing that curious and unique footballing phenomenon, the indignant North-East early walkout. It must be pleasant having less stressful things to reflect on such as the coming season’s squad and where Ian Holloway might next pitch up, but you just know that deep-down you are secretly missing the emotional carnage.

“I'm now waiting for Town to totally implode so it can put me out my misery once and for all, but they just won't fire the final bullet.” All hope was lost when we failed to turn up at Huddersfield on Easter Monday, losing 2-1 and wondering what on earth Sean Scannell was doing there as poor old Zeki Fryers was the latest in his line of broken full-backs, but the madness had not finished yet.

Despite a scare in our poor win at home to Blackpool, the Gods have smiled on us. Wolves played the Bluenoses who took great joy in belting them 2-1 and then staggered shell-shocked to another defeat to Boro. Brentford pummelled Derby but only drew after a late Darren Bent goal and they also fell last night at the feet of the man-mountains of Sheffield Wednesday.

And so to Jonny. He has been restricted to two cameo appearances, being asked to perform a rescue act in our defeat at Huddersfield and our win at home to Blackpool, probably our two poorest performances in this run-in. He stayed on the bench when the team played well in our win over Cardiff and Mick has seen him as an option to change a game rather than starting him.

This is down to fitness, as he had not kicked a ball since he was kicked in anger back in November by the limited Swede Joel Ekstrand. “He's miles off the boil isn't he? He obviously still quality and will give his all, but a fraction of the player we've seen”, “His first touch, dribbling and passing are nowhere near as sharp as before his injury.”

“Good option off the bench though. He's a good little footballer and on a decent surface like today (at home to Blackpool) we're crying out for someone to be able to give us a little run at a defence with 20 to go for instance”, “He will offer extra energy against tired legs at the end. Plus we have Teddy Bishop, who can play the first hour or so, with Williams as a straight swap off the bench.”

Even allowing for fitness concerns, we are happy to have him back and we have a clear Plan A for him in the run-in. Most of us see Jonny acting as a late replacement in games for Teddy Bishop who plays a similar role, but it is worth noting that Mick decided to play them together for the last quarter of an hour against the Seasiders.

Jonny’s return has been quiet and a bit background thus far, but that could all change on Saturday where our visit to Molineux heralds the final act of the season’s drama. Win and Wolves are fatally wounded, lose and we are back level with tough games against Forest and Blackburn to play, draw and Brentford will also be right back in the race with a winnable couple of games left.

We are pitching up in the West Midlands with a coach full of ghosts in the shape of Mick, Terry Connor, Christoph Berra and Stephen Hunt. As a Dubliner, I have loved watching Hunt in the green Irish jersey, but his finest hour was his relegation saving goal scored at Molineux against Blackburn. It was a goal born out of skill and technique, but it was also born out of character and personality.

I have an old friend who played competitive lower-league football back in the day and it is always good to listen to his take on things. He said something last week that has stayed with me: “When you step on a football pitch, your true character and personality will always emerge. You simply cannot conceal this in the heat and moment of the game.”

When we beat Derby in the ‘wonder goal’ game last March, my partner remarked that she felt that Jonny and Stephen Hunt were the two Ipswich players projecting their personality on the game. The team played well as a whole but the determination, character and spirit of the pair of them galvanised the team as the match ebbed and flowed.

Taking this into the coming weeks, we have a squad of excellent players who have battled through this season’s campaign heroically, but one senses that even a half-fit Jonny can offer the ability to rise to the occasion and help us make a little bit of history. The last few weeks for Jonny have been about quiet preparation. Let’s hope that the next few weeks are altogether less quiet.

Jonny Williams lurking in the shadows at Ipswich Town, ready to pounce

Harry Wainwright says it's all quiet on the Eastern Front and fears life so far with Jonny Williams at Portman Road may never be the same again after the talented Welshman's injury earlier in the season.

“Feck it - I was hoping we would lose. I can handle the disappointment. It’s the hope I struggle with.” This memorable comment posted by a fellow Tractor Boy this time last year was resurrected after a memorable 3-1 win over Cardiff. The victory left us three points clear of Brentford and Wolves in the race for the last play-off place in this season’s version of Championship musical chairs.

Palace fans have had different things to entertain them this year, such as witnessing that curious and unique footballing phenomenon, the indignant North-East early walkout. It must be pleasant having less stressful things to reflect on such as the coming season’s squad and where Ian Holloway might next pitch up, but you just know that deep-down you are secretly missing the emotional carnage.

“I'm now waiting for Town to totally implode so it can put me out my misery once and for all, but they just won't fire the final bullet.” All hope was lost when we failed to turn up at Huddersfield on Easter Monday, losing 2-1 and wondering what on earth Sean Scannell was doing there as poor old Zeki Fryers was the latest in his line of broken full-backs, but the madness had not finished yet.

Despite a scare in our poor win at home to Blackpool, the Gods have smiled on us. Wolves played the Bluenoses who took great joy in belting them 2-1 and then staggered shell-shocked to another defeat to Boro. Brentford pummelled Derby but only drew after a late Darren Bent goal and they also fell last night at the feet of the man-mountains of Sheffield Wednesday.

And so to Jonny. He has been restricted to two cameo appearances, being asked to perform a rescue act in our defeat at Huddersfield and our win at home to Blackpool, probably our two poorest performances in this run-in. He stayed on the bench when the team played well in our win over Cardiff and Mick has seen him as an option to change a game rather than starting him.

This is down to fitness, as he had not kicked a ball since he was kicked in anger back in November by the limited Swede Joel Ekstrand. “He's miles off the boil isn't he? He obviously still quality and will give his all, but a fraction of the player we've seen”, “His first touch, dribbling and passing are nowhere near as sharp as before his injury.”

“Good option off the bench though. He's a good little footballer and on a decent surface like today (at home to Blackpool) we're crying out for someone to be able to give us a little run at a defence with 20 to go for instance”, “He will offer extra energy against tired legs at the end. Plus we have Teddy Bishop, who can play the first hour or so, with Williams as a straight swap off the bench.”

Even allowing for fitness concerns, we are happy to have him back and we have a clear Plan A for him in the run-in. Most of us see Jonny acting as a late replacement in games for Teddy Bishop who plays a similar role, but it is worth noting that Mick decided to play them together for the last quarter of an hour against the Seasiders.

Jonny’s return has been quiet and a bit background thus far, but that could all change on Saturday where our visit to Molineux heralds the final act of the season’s drama. Win and Wolves are fatally wounded, lose and we are back level with tough games against Forest and Blackburn to play, draw and Brentford will also be right back in the race with a winnable couple of games left.

We are pitching up in the West Midlands with a coach full of ghosts in the shape of Mick, Terry Connor, Christoph Berra and Stephen Hunt. As a Dubliner, I have loved watching Hunt in the green Irish jersey, but his finest hour was his relegation saving goal scored at Molineux against Blackburn. It was a goal born out of skill and technique, but it was also born out of character and personality.

I have an old friend who played competitive lower-league football back in the day and it is always good to listen to his take on things. He said something last week that has stayed with me: “When you step on a football pitch, your true character and personality will always emerge. You simply cannot conceal this in the heat and moment of the game.”

When we beat Derby in the ‘wonder goal’ game last March, my partner remarked that she felt that Jonny and Stephen Hunt were the two Ipswich players projecting their personality on the game. The team played well as a whole but the determination, character and spirit of the pair of them galvanised the team as the match ebbed and flowed.

Taking this into the coming weeks, we have a squad of excellent players who have battled through this season’s campaign heroically, but one senses that even a half-fit Jonny can offer the ability to rise to the occasion and help us make a little bit of history. The last few weeks for Jonny have been about quiet preparation. Let’s hope that the next few weeks are altogether less quiet.

Eye on the opposition - West Bromwich Albion (H): The return of Tony Pulis

Jack Pierce ponders the many questions left by the departure of Tony Pulis, and charts his progress with West Brom as Palace prepare to host them on Saturday.
Pulis 2
Saturday isn't so much the return of the prodigal son; more a case of a return of a distant relative that was pretty cool for a little while before disappearing without saying goodbye.

Such was the rushed nature of his departure, Palace fans never had the chance to bid Tony Pulis farewell and thank him for the quite magnificent job he did while Palace boss. Whatever the reasons for his departure, there's no denying what a stunning impact he had on the club last season. Under his stewardship, Palace rose from bottom of the pile to the lofty heights of mid table and were safe from the drop with a fair few games to go.

It was the unbelievable job he did in SE25 that saw Pulis become the favourite for almost every job vacancy going after becoming a free agent and in the case of his new employer, West Brom, probably the reason why Alan Irvine was dismissed at the end of December. The Baggies' board knew that Pulis would be snapped up by someone else if they didn't and when it appeared WBA were being dragged into the battle to stay up, Irvine was sent on his way and Pulis was hired almost immediately.

Since his appointment, Pulis has guided Albion to 33 points and looked to be guiding the club to Premier League safety without any fuss. The likelihood is still that they will stay up but consecutive home defeats to QPR and Leicester have raised doubts again. Those defeats have put a little bit of pressure on Pulis and his team and they will be looking for a result at Selhurst in order to stop the rot and reaffirm their position outside of the scrap to stay up.

If (and they should) Albion do stay up, Pulis will want access to the club's cheque book pretty quickly in the summer. There is scope to improve the side all over the field but Pulis will probably revert to his known type and look to stiffen the core of the side. New central defenders and midfielders may well be on his list and with the potential departure of Saido Berahino, it's likely that Pulis will be looking to bring in a striker too.

Palace fans know only too well that Pulis likes to feel in charge when at a club. His decision to walk away from Palace in August was without doubt linked to the differences of opinion he had with Steve Parish and co regarding transfer budget and policy. Albion, a club lauded for their rather steady approach to business may well be changing their approach to transfer business with their new manager running the show. Pulis likes looser purse strings and is no stranger to rather lavish spending. If Albion do manage retain their top flight status, it will be interesting to the levels of spending at The Hawthorns this summer.

We all know what's happened since the Pardew Revolution but it would be interesting to have seen where Palace ended up this season had Pulis stayed on as boss.

Who would've been bought in?

Would Palace continue to have played so defensively?

Who would've had a scrap with the boss in the shower?

We'll never know. It's often been commented since his departure that Pulis wasn't especially 'Palace' and it's a sentiment I wouldn't disagree with. That said, there would've been very few managers who could've had the impact on a squad like Pulis did last season. He did an incredible job for Palace but it could, too, be argued Palace did an incredible job for Pulis. Prior to his spell in SE25, the Welshman was a respected manager; praised for the work he had done in establishing Stoke as a top flight side. The job he did at Selhurst took him to a new level.

The stark rise up the table he engineered for our lot highlighted the 'firefighter' skill set that Pulis has in his armoury and saw him anointed the man a club would want at the helm of your if Premier League survival was the aim.

With four consecutive wins on the bounce, confidence in SE25 is sky high; while two defeats (conceding seven goals) against two of last season's promoted sides will see Baggies fans a little fearful of what the rest of the season might have to come.

This time last year, we were living off Tony Pulis inspiring tight 1-0 wins at Selhurst Park.

Not this time, Tony. Not this time.

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