Samuel Jordan takes a look at the big issues raised over the summer, and gives us a few thoughts.
That’s it, summer’s over.
A vintage edition of Love Island has been and gone, England won a home World Cup that won’t be thought of again until the squad list appears in the final round of Pointless in 5 year’s time, and we had a full season’s worth of heat in one terrifying day.
Throughout it all Palace were Palace. A break in Bern before batterings by Barnet and Berlin (pre-season condensed for you fans of alliteration). It‘s frustrating (and a teeny bit funny.)
Now, just like that the season’s upon us. A Wilfried Zaha-less Everton visit a presumably Wilfried Zaha-less Palace in our home opener, drawing a line under a strange few weeks.
I tweeted yesterday about feeling unusually pessimistic ahead of the coming season. It seems to be a view shared by at least a few others; disillusionment, frustration, despair in some cases. They’re feelings that have been bubbling under the surface for a while now.
The transfer window scraped shut and I understand fans’ frustration at how things played out. It was a late, not-entirely-inspiring flurry again, and there are legitimate concerns raised about each new addition (to counter: there are some positives too).
The sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka hasn’t seen the influx of talent some thought it might, nor has it led to a replacement right-back being signed, which could make things interesting if our defence sees another injury. And on top of that, an additional option up top would have been nice.
Being asked ‘to pay’ for pre-season live streams had also left a sour taste for some and reopened the wounds of the age old battle: Season Ticket Holders vs Members.
(There’s a danger I’ll go off topic if we take that any further, but given his comments yesterday, charging to watch Roy’s Friday press conference could have been the real money spinner!)
And the now annual Zaha summer stirring came to a fairly ugly conclusion with the reports of a transfer request as the sand in the hourglass began to pile high. Speaking with no inside knowledge on the subject, I can appreciate his want to play at the highest level (not sure Everton are at that level, but we’ll see what this season brings) and I also understand patience wearing thin amongst the fanbase given what he means to us. A local boy - who got bit and came back home - no one gets him like we do and on his day he’s the potential difference between an assault on the Europa League places and an undignified dogfight to stay in the division.
For what it’s worth, Zaha is the best footballer to play for Palace since I started watching. And I know some older fans feel the same, despite the successes and excitement of the 1970s to ‘90s. Opposition fans scoff at the stats, a career-high 10 Premier League goals last term may have outsiders raising eyebrows, but it’s about more than the numbers. He’s the player I’m excited to tell my son about in a few years time; he steals souls, breaks ankles and loses his head at the officials with the rest of us. Yes, the fans are hurt at the moment, and he’s reportedly ‘fuming’, but time is a great healer and once he’s physically ready to play (presuming he’s a few games off due to his late summer return) it’ll be time to get behind him again.
I’d agree with the calls on Twitter to get behind the team on Saturday, and I don’t doubt those in attendance will. It’s not Joel Ward’s fault he’ll have to avoid injury all season, nor is it James McArthur’s fault we reunited him with his friend Macca instead of buying a £23m forward. And Max Meyer wasn’t pushing for fans to tune in to the live streams, though given how well he played maybe he would have!
I’m not particularly looking forward to the football side of the season still, but I am looking forward to being back at Selhurst Park. I’m looking forward to a pre-match pint with family and friends, or a half-time eyebrow raise as I pass someone I half-know in the guts of the Holmesdale (“Not a classic,” is my go-to).
It is frustrating, and it is hard to get fired up for what looks set to be a long campaign, but at least we don’t have to hear from supposed-ITK arseholes for a few months or fret about losing any more of our best performers - and we can all focus on trying to laugh to save ourselves from crying.
Who knows, maybe low expectations will leave us all pleasantly surprised.
Follow Sam on Twitter at www.twitter.com/samuelpjordan.