Five Year Plan

Fanzine and Blog for fans of Crystal Palace Football Club

Brand new issue of FYP out on Saturday vs Everton - Issue 42

They say good things come to those who wait, and yes, it's been a long time to wait, but trust us, you won't be disappointed when you pick up a copy of FYP issue 42 on Saturday for the paltry sum of £1.50!

Yes it's that time again. The latest issue of FYP is ready and raring to go, straight into your hands to read, and there's plenty of exciting content this time. 

Since the last issue Palace have been part of the managerial merry-go-round and finally got our man in Alan Pardew. What a start it's been, with four wins in four, and we hope issue 42 of FYP will be a winner too.

So, up for sale around the ground and online there is plenty of content to keep you going. As a way of a little apology for the lengthy wait for this issue, we've got even more superb content in a bumper issue. So what is there for you to read?

  • A Happy Honeymoon – Alan Pardew’s fresh approach is something to celebrate for Palace, says Robert Sutherland.
  • Salako’s ViewJim Daly chats to John Salako about the new boss and what he might bring to the club.
  • The Managerial Merry-go-Round – It’s been a tumultuous time since Ian Holloway first took over the club. Matt Webb takes a look at how we’ve changed on the managerial front.
  • Iain MoodyMatt Woosnam speaks exclusively to Iain Moody about his time with Crystal Palace – from his controversial departure to his role in happier times.
  • Chamakh Me So Happy – Marouane Chamakh and Palace’s paths crossed at the perfect time, says Andy Street.
  • Mile MagicBryan Davies lauds the brilliance of captain fantastic, Mile Jedinak.
  • He’s Garner Be GreatMatt Woosnam meets Ben Garner, Palace’s coach who has made the transition from training the kids to becoming the club’s first team coach.
  • A Change at the TopRichard Foster takes a look at the take-over speculation surrounding the club.
  • Owner Hitlist – Palace could be sold in the coming months – Robert Sutherland takes a look at what the new owners might focus on.
  • Memory LaneJD Senior takes a look back at the 1961-62 season, one in which Johnny Byrne and Real Madrid graced the sacred Selhurst Park turf.

FYP issue 42 will be on sale around the ground from 1:30pm, at the top of Holmesdale Road, outside the Glaziers Lounge and other locations to be confirmed. You can also purchase a copy online. 


FYP Podcast 128 - Super Southampton win!

Four games; four wins. This isn't the Palace we've come to know and love! And yet here we are, into the fifth round of the cup and staring into a bright, exciting new future.

The FYP pod team re-assemble to look back at the brilliant FA Cup win over Southampton and the return of two-goal Marouane Chamakh.

They also look forward to the visit of Everton and answer your questions.

Click on one of the links below to download!

.

And check out the podcast's lovely sponsors Vektor Printing


The future's bright, the future's KaiKai

Making her debut for FYP, here's Danielle Lowe on what a special young talent Eagles striker Sullay Kaikai is.

It wasn’t that long ago Sullay Kaikai scored his first senior team goal when he was subbed on against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup. 

Whilst he might not have cemented his name amongst that many Palace fans he is certainly winning across supporters of Cambridge United. Despite getting subbed off after 55 minutes in their FA Cup fourth round game against Manchester United his performance was at times exceptional. 

It is clear Kaikai has a little way to go before he makes it into the starting Palace 11 but he certainly is well on his way. He is one a handful of players that have come through the academy and are developing into club superstars and with a contract until 2018 he has plenty of time to make an impact.  

His development though shows we are still good at producing one particular kind of player: wide players. Expect a few exceptions, such as Nathaniel Clyne (who almost fits the description), we seem to specialise in producing fast and pacey wingers. 

For a player that stands at six foot tall it comes as a surprise that Kaikai seems to be finding himself at winger more often. Of course he does have the ability to cross the ball and many traits of a winger however he would also fit the role of a tall and pacey striker. It raises a couple of questions in our youth development programme if we are only able to turn most players into wide positioned ones. 

Can we not encourage one of these wide players to become a left-back to resolve our constant crisis and just accept that we are never going to successfully buy one. We need to focus on a wider variety of players not only to resolve our own positioning crisis but also to give them the best possible chance of success. 

Of course part of the reason Kaikai ended up at Cambridge United was possibly because of him not being offered out for loan until the run up to Christmas (a sign that staff at the club wanted him around to see if he could fit into the squad at the minute) but also he is specialising in a really common position at the minute. 

The academy, that has been questioned recently for its production of new players, needs to diversify so the players can make their way into our first team, get better loan opportunities and if needs be can be sold for a more decent sum of money. 

With so many wide players already in the starting 11 and regularly on the subs bench let us hope that Kaikai can battle his way into the squad and that 2018 and many years beyond will see him holding the ball up and whipping it in rather than him being sold because of the amount of players we have in that position.

Follow Danielle on Twitter.


 

Southampton 2-3 Crystal Palace: Ratings and analysis from St Mary's

That's four wins from four under Alan Pardew now after a brilliant FA Cup win on his old stamping ground. Here's Mark Gardiner's assessment...

I am not a man who bears grudges – well, I am, but not usually for long – but there was just a hint of payback for 1976 today, especially given the prominence that match was given in the Saints programme. Perhaps it was paying £4 when the original was only 20p... Younger supporters may prefer it as revenge for Boxing Day, especially when the home fans politely enquired where we were on 26 December. The omens weren’t good – the boiler was bust, and last time that happened we lost 3-1 at Pompey in what turned out to be Julian’s last game for some time after deflecting a shot going wide into the net.

Perhaps it was just as well he was rested for Hennessey. Instead we say some breathtaking Palace attacks in the first half, including some passing movements that would not disgrace Messi & Co. At the end of the game discussions took place along the lines of how could Jedi & Bolasie get back into the team, and the sudden burgeoning of attacking talent available, all this with the scorers of last week’s three goals on the bench.

It was a very attacking formation put out by Pardew, with Campbell coming in for Gayle and playing wide right, Wilf switching to the left, and Chamakh replacing Puncheon in the hole in a 4-2-3-1 line-up. It had to be a strong team as Southampton picked their strongest available XI, but the absence of Schneiderlin & Wanyama in midfield was a weakness. Not that Palace took immediate advantage, conceding an early corner that was allowed to drop in the six yard box where Pellé beat Delaney to steer home from close range: an awful goal to concede & one wondered whether Hennessey should have left his line.

Palace’s response was surprisingly swift – on a swift counter Chamakh fed Zaha through the middle; Wilf’s excellent through ball found Sanogo in the box, and while Forster saved his shot he could not hold it, and Chamakh had continued his run and rammed the loose ball home a split second before the keeper could regain possession. Forster was to quickly spill another two shots from Sanogo & Campbell from similar positions on the left side of the box; was the low sun from that quarter a factor for a keeper who’d disdained a cap?

Our delight didn’t last long, Southampton’s second coming between the chances from Sanogo & Campbell mentioned above. Both sides were playing attacking football with full backs pushed up, and Saints certainly exploited the space behind Ward in the first half. This time Zaha was sow to cover, but there didn’t seem any danger as a low cross headed for Hennessey’s arms, only for Dann to slide in and put the ball firmly into his own net. A certain lack of communication between defender & goalie. Palace had to start all over again and, much to our extended surprise, prised open Southampton’s defence again, this time Wilf showed great control of a long clearance and another excellent lay off that Sanogo looked to have put into the corner only for a deflection to aid him by taking Forster out of the equation. No matter – it’s Yaya’s goal and he deserved it.

Both sides’ defensive midfields were playing higher up the pitch than usual and there was so much space for attack & counter-attack. Saints had most of the ball & had two efforts fizz past Hennessey’s right post but Palace looked so dangerous on the break. Imagine if Gayle had started on the left, it would have been an embarrassment of riches. The third goal was the result of excellent interplay between Zaha & Ward down the left, taking out 4 defenders, and Ward’s carefully delivered pass freed Chamakh inside the box; unlike last season Marouane calmly rounded Forster & scored at an angle. Palace had a chance for a fourth with a free kick in stoppage time but it was too close for Sanogo to get the ball over the ball then dip under the bar.

The second half couldn’t keep up the pace. Saints switched to three at the back but Palace started the quicker, and Dann’s free header from Ledley’s corner really should have at least been on target. Zaha was running at the left-sided central defender and causing no end of problems, Chamakh’s touch and work rate were outstanding, while Sanogo quietly played the Cameron Jerome role. The match really changed with two substitutions: Shane Long came on for rumoured transfer target Cork (whose display really didn’t impress) as Saints switched to three up front, while Chamakh, who looked knackered in the first half & was suffering from cramp, was replaced by Puncheon, who didn’t offer the same element of control. Saints started to look dangerous, especially down our left where Kelly seemed to slip over far too often for comfort.

The best move released Long in the box only for a superbly time tackle by Ward to clear the danger; happily it also crocked Long who left the pitch. Saints were never quite the same threat after that, although Hennessey at least had one save to make when tipping over a shot from the edge of the box. There were moments of panic in Palace’s box and Mariappa was introduced as a holding midfielder, a strange choice with Bannan on the bench (McArthur could have dropped deep) but it undoubtedly worked. At the end the home fans were leaving well before we acclaimed our heroes.

Ratings:

Hennessey – 6 – Not a commanding performance and some questions about his role in both Saints’ goals, especially regarding organisation & communication. Had another moment of confusion with Dann late on, and also dropped one cross only to have it bounce back into his hands with no attacker close. Distribution was longer than Julian’s usual but not a great increase in accuracy as we’d hoped. Only had one real save to make when he athletically tipped over a shot from the edge of the box. Not enough to make a case for being first choice yet.

Ward – 7 – Struggled defensively in the first half with balls played in behind him, but was a different story going forward, his part in the third goal was both crucial & excellent. Continued to link well with Zaha all game and made one crucial tackle on Long that had to be made but ran risks of a penalty – his timing & execution was perfect.

Kelly – 6 – Good first half at the back and increasingly made ground attacking in the second, but couldn’t keep his feet in defensive situations, slipping over numerous times.

Delaney – 6 – Beaten by Pellé for the first goal and had some rough moments in the first half. Strangely as Saints looked more dangerous with Long, Damien’s game improved to match the threat.

Dann – 5 – Must sort out his communications with Hennessey: the first goal saw the ball drop over him – was he expecting the keeper to come; the second saw him intercept a ball that Hennessey had covered; and there was some more confusion between them in the second half. Also missed our best chance of the second half with an early free header that was way off target.

Ledley – 7 – Was a hard match to play defensive midfielder with everyone else just on the attack, but Joe had a good solid game and Southampton’s lightweight midfield never gained ascendancy. Corners, especially in the first half, floated into the near post – obviously a planned move but seemed a waste to me.

McArthur – 6 – Quieter game than recently but stuck to his job and made some important interceptions, one challenge late on followed a lung-bursting run back to our corner flag.

Campbell – 6 – Quiet game on the left flank, never the influence that Wilf was (Clyne might have had something to do with that). Did have one chance that Forster saved. Briefly filled in up front when Sanogo went off before being subbed himself.

Zaha – 8 – Played an important role in all three goals, two of them the result of fine control & short passes, the third some close-quarter dribbling and a ball that threaded between two defenders. Worried the hell out of the left side of the Saints’ defence but did blow one great chance on the break, his lay off to Sanogo overplayed.

Chamakh – 8 – So a nice low-key reintroduction to the first team? Absolutely outstanding, his link play with Sanogo & Zaha was brilliant, his control superb, work rate superb, and his ability to hold onto the ball under pressure or nick it away in midfield was important. And scored two goals, one the result of good anticipation, the other good close-control (& no dive over the keeper this time!). The goals tip him as my choice as Man of the Match.

Sanogo – 7 – Another hard working performance mixed with some nice touches. Denied a goal by Forster early on, he deserves the goal that looked to be going in before the deflection. My fears that he’d be a liability are certainly being buried.

Subs:

Puncheon – 6 – How can you replace Chamakh after that performance? Jason had no chance but he ball did seem to be held up more, perhaps under orders.

Mariappa – 6 – Strange choice for holding midfield substitution but did quite well with some important clearances under late pressure. 

Murray – 6 – Late sub for Campbell and looked sharp.


From the other side - Southampton (A) 24/1/2015

Here's Saints fan Chris Rann from the excellent George Weah's Cousin giving us the lowdown ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash.

1) What sort of side will Koeman put out? Weakened or is he serious about the FA Cup?

If he sticks to the pattern, in the League Cup and the previous round against Ipswich he changed things a little, but not that much. Expect Matt Targett to play at left back as he has done in cup games this season, but injuries/AFCON/Asian Cup permitting it will be a strong side. With Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld out, defensively I am inclined to say is a weaker side, but the understudies are proving pretty capable in their absence.

 

2) What can you let us know to expect from Pards after having him as boss too?

Ah. What I like to call 'The Alan Pardew conundrum'. There is no doubt that he is a capable manager, and from a purely footballing perspective he did a good job for us, winning a trophy and bringing the likes of Rickie Lambert to the club. The football though wasn't the prettiest, but it was effective. Would I want him back at St. Mary's? No, but that is as much to do with us as a club and the way we have progressed since he was here and the fact that as a person I can't warm to him. By replacing Colin with him though you have saved your season, and now I expect you to stay up comfortably.

 

3) Palace have admitted they want to be more like Saints. How can they do that?

Lose the blue stripe for a start... I'm not sure, but I do like the idea of their being a TV advert like the 'Be more Dog' campaign. 'Be more Saints' has got a certain ring to it. Seriously though, the use of youth players (which as a club you seem quite good at already) and a constant but gradual evolution I would say is the key. We still have regulars from League One, there is something in that. There is a very clear philosophy at Saints now and that is engrained in the young players from day one the key is commitment to the time it takes to get rid of the 'rot' at the club. We have been very fortunate along the way, but the appointment of key personnel along the way has paid dividends. There are no passengers at St. Mary's.

 

4) No Jedinak or Bolasie for Palace, so who's the biggest danger man now?

Even if they were playing I would say Dwight Gayle. While Harry Kane (most overhyped and overrated player in history, who weirdly has my 16 year old face, (Florin Gardos has my 14 year old face)) and Charlie Austin have been getting all the plaudits (including England mentions) Gayle has been getting on with some pretty impressive front play. Saints defence has been the best in the League so far, but I don't see them getting an easy time from him.

 

5) Jason Puncheon. Hero or zero (for Saints)?

He certainly started as a Zero, he lost the support of the crowd pretty quickly, then his place to Oxlade-Chamberlain (who let's face it, is pretty good) and that prompted some odd, and unacceptable behaviour from Punch (including refusing to travel for an away game when he was told he was on the bench allegedly). He then spent a lot of time out on loan before returning and, to his credit, knuckling down and winning everyone round. By the time he left for Palace, Saints fans genuinely didn't want him to go, so I would say he left a hero.

 

6) Prediction for the game.

I think it will be tight, but home advantage will hopefully pay off. I'll go for a 2-1 win to us Pelle, Long and Gayle the scorers.

Follow Chris on Twitter. 


 

Iain Moody admits mistake over controversial messages which led to Crystal Palace resignation

Former Crystal Palace sporting director Iain Moody has lifted the lid on the text-gate scandal which ended his spell with the Eagles, and denied his close friend Malky Mackay the manager’s job. He speaks exclusively to FYP's Matt Woosnam.
Iain Moody
The 40-year-old joined Palace in October 2013, when the club was in the midst of searching for a new manager to replace Ian Holloway who left after a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Fulham. But Moody lasted only 10 months, and he left the club following the leak of alleged sexist, racist and homophobic text messages and emails exchanged between himself and former Cardiff manager Malky Mackay.

Whilst he offered no excuses for his behaviour, he sought to explain the reasons behind it.

He said: “I think football is an intoxicating environment, both as a fan and as someone who works there.  It’s a very strange world that I had 10 years of without a break. It’s been quite nice in some ways to devote myself to my kids and my wife in the last four or five months.

“In life most people you meet are good people, there are some who aren’t and never will be. I think good people sometimes do bad things. It doesn’t mean that they are no longer good people and I think everyone has got something you can refer to in your own past to say why did I do that?

“I think we can all look back on experiences of reacting to situations in a particular way and thinking ‘god there’s no way I would do that again’, or even as has happened to me, reading back things and not even recognising that it was me who said them, thinking… and I’m not denying it was me, but that’s unrecognisable and it’s not a reflection of where I am and what I stand for, and the education that I have had; and I don’t mean necessarily formal education but upbringing.

“I’m the father of two young kids at the moment and it’s become the most important thing in my life that there is a proper framework or behaviour and expectation for them to be good people. So there’s a distortion. People get distorted then things that people do are interpreted in a distorted way.”

Moody and Mackay are both subject to investigation from the Football Association following the texts. Proceedings remain active, and he was reluctant to discuss the situation but insisted he was keen to help the FA in any way he could.

He resigned from his position at Selhurst Park, and admits he considered it previously when other issues arose, including the allegations that he had obtained the Cardiff City team sheet prior to Palace’s 3-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium in April.

“I was conscious throughout my time at Palace that there were various storms that occurred around me,” he added. “I was conscious throughout my time there, it sounds contrite but the owners had been so good to me from the day I came in. The first day I met Steve [Parish] I was conscious that I didn’t want to be a problem. It’s got nothing to do with Palace really. I said to Steve on many occasions ‘I don’t want this ever to be awkward; if you think that the problem of having me here outweighs the benefit of having me here I will just go’. The story should never be about me, all the people who have done my job well in the past, no-one knows who they are."

He asks me if Dan Ashworth walked in would I recognise him, and although I know who he is talking about, I have to concede I do not know what the director of Elite Development for the FA, and former West Bromwich Albion sporting director looks like.

To emphasise his point, he adds: “Yet he is held up as one of the forebears of doing the job well. Nicky Hammond at Reading has been there for ten years and not many people would recognise him. I don’t ever want to be the story, and I was my own worst enemy in that in some ways, and I would act differently if I did it again now.

“There was kind of an understanding that I’ll just go, I’ll just go. Steve throughout [the previous issues] was like ‘no, no, no, I want you to stay, you’re doing a good job, we need you.’ But that was a little bit there and then. I didn’t want Palace… they were looking for a manager at the time, the season had just started, transfer window open, there was a lot of stuff going on and I had become a story and I didn’t want to be a story that impacted on Palace.

“So as soon as I knew what was going to happen in the press I spoke to Steve and said ‘I will just go’. From this day I will just go and I won’t bother you again, and that’s kind of what happened.”

“I was disappointed [to leave Palace]. I had a 10 fantastic months and I loved all the people. There’s brilliant people everywhere at the club, it’s quirky, it needs a bit of work, a bit of love but they’ve got absolutely the right people doing the right things for the right reasons, and it’s not often I can say that.”

Read the full interview in issue 42 of Five Year Plan, out vs Everton on 31 January and available around the ground at Selhurst Park.


 

Burnley 2-3 Crystal Palace: Ratings and analysis from Turf Moor

HUGE result for Palace and an impressive comeback from two goals down. Here's Mark Gardiner...

The result was as changeable as the weather - a mixture of sun, hail & driving snow - as Palace seized what looked a remote chance to put some daylight between them & other teams in the relegation struggle. This will be a severe blow to Burnley's morale just as it will provide a huge boost to our own. And with Brighton, Charlton & Millwall all losing the day was nearly perfect [still waiting for Uma Thurman to turn up...]

Pardew selected a team & formation to win the match, abandoning the sole striker for a 4-4-2 with Gayle & new lad Sanogo up front, Zaha initially on the left & Puncheon on the right, leaving Ledley & McArthur to patrol the middle. After a slow start it appeared this meddling with a relatively successful & honed tactic to accommodate a new signing could be as successful as Trevor Francis was when Akinbiyi arrived. Out of nowhere Burnley grabbed a two goal lead. After an initial mix-up between Speroni & Dann conceded a corner, Julian completely lost the flight of an inswinging cross to the far post, drawing McArthur off the line and allowing Mee to score from a ridiculously tight angle. Ignore arguments over ball & quadrant - this was rank poor goalkeeping. Then Ward allowed himself to be robbed of the ball on the right-hand touchline, mugged trying a little obstruction, and in the form he was in Ings gave Julian no chance.

Palace's slow road back started with a tactical switch, with Puncheon dropping back into midfield, Gayle moving wide left & Zaha switching to the right. Jason wasn't particularly effective on the ball but it made us far more solid and Burnley are generally quite a static team, with few runners moving ahead of the ball. Wilf made a couple of good runs, and one excellent cross ended up with Gayle thumping the ball home at the far post. Palace could have drawn level just before half time with McArthur nearly catching Heaton asleep and Sanogo just unable to take advantage of a half chance.

Second half saw both teams turn possession over on a continual basis but Palace did score an early equalizer, Puncheon being allowed to run into the inside-left channel, and while his shot was pin-point accurate inside the near post it wasn't the most venomous effort & I thought Heaton was slow in getting down. Still, who cares?

Most of the rest of the game saw lots of effort but not a great deal of skill, with chances being very thin on the ground. Slowly Burnley built up a slight head of steam and the game entered a 15-20 minute period where the ball seldom left our half, but they actually posed very little threat, the closest being when McArthur once again cleared an opposition effort off our goal line. To stiffen the side up Pardew introduced Guédioura for Zaha (Puncheon moving back to the right), then Murray for Sanogo and finally Mariappa for Kelly. It was against the run of play that Murray fashioned a chance with an acrobatic effort that struck the post before with 3 minutes left a Puncheon pass actually found a Palace player, Gayle cutting in from the left, and his close-range effort from a narrow angle flew past Heaton (slow to react again?) & inside the far post. Burnley huffed & puffed a little more but were dealt with quite easily.

Ratings:

Speroni - 5 - Took himself out of the game by totally misreading the flight of the corner for the first goal, then immediately flapped at the next set piece. Had little opportunity to redeem himself as Burnley seldom had an effort on target, Ings's goal aside. Did make one acrobatic catch late on.

Ward - 5 - Should have concentrated on the ball rather than the man in repeating Dann's error at home to Villa, in which case both the position of the ball (I thought it was out at the time but subsequent reviews have made me doubt that conclusion) and the foul don't come into the equation. Not a day for overlapping full backs and one cross was awfully overhit.

Kelly - 6 - Quiet game as Burnley didn't threaten too much down our left, but was involved enough to concede a few free kicks.

Delaney - 7 - Lost Barnes once but made some important interceptions.

Dann - 6 - Mix up with Julian conceded the corner for the first goal, but was caught cold for Burnley's second. After that kept Ings quiet, stepping in to pick off poorly directed through balls.

Ledley - 7 - Conservative with his passing options but held the middle together until it was reinforced. Tripped over Boyd & lost Mee for their first goal.

McArthur - 7 - Impressive again today, being more creative than Joe and pushing on to support the attack. Important clearance off the line again, and could have had a couple of goals, just missing Wilf's cross for Dwight's goal, then nearly beating Heaton with a shot on the break.

Zaha - 6 - Mixed bag from Wilf with some excellent crosses but also some poor decision making - trying to beat his man again when an early cross was the better option, then delivering early but poor efforts when lacking numbers to aim for. His early efforts did drag us back into the game setting up Gayle's first goal.

Puncheon - 6 - Low mark for someone with a goal & an assist, but his passing was often poor and he did give the ball away a lot, noticeable even in a match where the possession was turned over as a matter of routine. Still his switch to the middle helped shut down Burnley's attacking options, took his goal very well (wonder why Burnley stood off him?) and was an excellent pass for Gayle's winner.

Gayle -7 - Had a relatively quiet game, although a running battle with Trippier kept the locals entertained, but when he did burst onto the scene it was decisive. Both finishes were powerful & accurate, more impressive as he had time to think and chose the right options.

Sanogo - 6 - Decent debut with one half chance, controlled the ball well at times & not at others, laid the ball off well and was mobile. Question is do we have the time for him to improve his game enough to make a real difference? At least the raw talent looks to be there.

Subs:

Guédioura - 6 - Brought on to replace Zaha and hold the middle, where he had some good touches and - like the rest - gave the ball away a few times.

Murray - 6 - Made a chance out of nothing, hitting the post late on, and having the savvy to let Puncheon's pass run to Gayle for the winner.

Mariappa - n/a - Very late sub for Kelly.


A Palace Day Out: Burnley

Here's Mark Silverstein with his recounting of a trip oop north.

I love going to Burnley.  I have been once before to Turf Moor  (2012-13 season) and we lost but I still enjoyed it. It may be a deprived area (as part of my son’s school geography course he was told that at one point the local authority considered withdrawing all funding so that the town effectively closed down), but we have always had a warm welcome.  The surrounding Pennine hills give the town a remote almost mountainous feel, despite being in the middle of Britain’s old industrial heartland.

The whole town revolves around football on a match day and Turf Moor is about as traditional a ground as you can find. There are not many grounds in the Premier League surrounded by moor and despite the age of the ground, I have found the concourses in the away support area to be very spacious with very little need to queue for toilets/food/drink.  

The only drawback with Burnley is that it is a pain to get to- the train journey time is not far off that to the Northeast or Swansea. Maybe that explains why the away areas at Turf Moor seem so spacious!  In any event, it was an early start on the train and we still only got to Burnley Central by 1:00pm. The only compensation is there were some great views over the hills as we travelled from Preston to Burnley.  Miraculously the trains were all on time, which with hindsight was clearly a sign of what kind of day we were in store for. 

The weather was another sign. While a nice dusting of snow would give us an appropriately northern, moorland atmosphere, too much might give us an expensive day trip to watch a snowy scene and much as I enjoy going to Burnley, I don't enjoy it that much! A light covering of snow was duly delivered, and the match was going ahead. 

Somehow we managed to get to a Wetherspoons, find a table, get some food and drink and get out within about an hour, leaving us enough time to get to the ground at a leisurely pace. 

As an added bonus we have found a new petty rule at Turf Moor to add to the banning of iPads at Old Trafford and food at the Etihad. My 16 year old son was interrogated twice by stewards as they did not believe he was under 18 despite my assurances and his production of his 16+ Oyster Card. Being over 6 foot did not help his case unfortunately. Eventually they relented and we were allowed in. On the flipside, our local cinema still thinks he is 14 when he tries to get into a 15 film!

The whole match was surreal. Down two nil after 16 minutes, despite starting the first few minutes of the match reasonably well, the Palace support kept the singing up despite the terrible start and I am convinced that helped stop the players' heads dropping. That and the goal after 30 odd minutes.  As soon as Jason Puncheon got the second, in my mind there was only going to be one winner, although if I am honest Burnley were on top for much of the second half. The inevitable winning goal triggered pandemonium and more joyous singing. 

Three matches into the Pardew era is still far too early to truly assess how the rest of the season will go, but the signs are clearly good. I do not remember a single match under Warnock where a change of tactics or a substitution changed the course of the match. The best you could say about Neil is that there were a few matches where his changes helped to keep us in a match or, on the rare occasions when we were winning, helped us to keep our lead. On reflection, with the exception of “Crystanbul”, I do not recall Mr. Pulis making many match winning changes either. In both league matches so far Supa Al has made personnel and tactical changes which have turned the game in our favour. I could see him giving the instructions in the first half to Wilf to switch sides- a change which many people have commented help turn the match. Hopefully we will not have to rely on Mr Pardew to pull a rabbit out of hat every match, but it is good to know we have a manger now that is capable of doing that! 

We had just enough time to get back to the same pub, get some more food and drink and then to Manchester Road for the long journey home. By this time it was properly snowing which only added to the lively atmosphere on the train platform.  There were Palace supporters going in both directions so there was no option but for there to be more singing and snowball fights across the platforms. 

We spent the first leg of the journey talking to various Burnley supporters who were extremely gracious, complementing the Palace support and saying that we deserved to win. Although a draw might have been a fair result, they were certainly right about the quality of the support. 

Needless to say, the rest of the trip from Preston was happy chaos with far too many beers and lots of silliness. Rumour had it that Steve Parish and Mark Bright were on the train and a procession of Palace supporters headed up to pay homage including one poor nervous lad whose opening line to our fearless Chairman was "Did you go to the match"?  I think I know what the response was.