View from the South Stand - Crystal Palace 18/03/12
We're beginning to wonder why we put ourselves through
this. Before every Crystal Palace game we seek out a
Palace fan (not via Groupon surprisingl) and ask them a
set of questions.
Without fail, they predict a victory
for the men in red and blue usually by a clear two goal
margin, we laugh and then lo and behold it comes to
Will this time be any different? We certainly hope so as
it is about time our old friend
Bridle got some egg on his face
Unfortunately you guys are still well in the hunt
for promotion. Can it happen this season
automatically or through the play-offs?
Automatically is the aim and my
personal expectation. I could do without the stress
of the play-offs if I'm honest. Realistically it's
going to be tough. The gap has closed between
Cardiff and the rest and there's still plenty of
points left in it for them to drop into the
playoffs. I see Watford and Cardiff as our main
competitors but there are other teams in the running
for the top two spots. Of course Hull are still
getting the results, but they're so boring to watch
it'd be a travesty if they made it. I've got them
pegged to drop away.
You went through a bit of
a stutter when Dougie departed for the glamour of
Bolton, but things seem to have settled down now.
What do you think of the job Ian Holloway is doing?
After Dougie left we carried on
our streak for another 7 games before we lost to
Leeds away. But yeah, we had our mid-season stutter
but are starting to pick up again as everything's
drawing to a close. Holloway is doing well. He's
kept us in the top 6 throughout his reign so far and
I'm confident he'll get us up. He's got us playing
attractive football. A few of his team selections
have had me scratching my head at times but I think
he's the guy to get us up.
Wilfred Zaha is off come the
end of the campaign. How much do you think that will
effect Palace next season?
It's sad we won't get to see
Wilf's outrageous flicks and tricks next season, but
he's not irreplaceable. Of course it'll effect us as
he's a brilliant outlet to have - give him the ball
and he'll invariably do something unexpected and
magnificent with it. He does have a habit of
drifting in and out of games though. That won't be
missed. But the way we play means that we will be
able to bring someone else in to do his job -
perhaps not as spectacularly - but we've got other
players for that.
It's not just Zaha who has been
impressive this season. Will Palace be able to hang
onto the likes of Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Williams
and FFS Murray come the summer?
I think we'll hang on to all
three. Bolasie loves it here, and he's playing the
best football in his career and there's something
about our set-up that's allowing him to do that. He
was handed his first international call up for DR
Congo in January but turned it down to stay at
Palace. Murray is so important to the way we play
he'd be a big miss. Not just the goals he scores but
the effort he puts in holding up the ball and
bringing our midfield in to play. He's got a year
left on his contract and he's currently in talks for
an extension. Williams is the best player I've ever
seen pull on a Palace shirt. He's so good and shows
so much promise it's actually scary. You can tell
how much he loves the club as he celebrates every
goal we score like he's just earned a hat-trick.
He's a smart lad and he's not played that many games
for us yet. He knows his best chance of making it is
at a place who will nurture his talent and Palace
are proven to be one of the best in the country for
doing that. There will be so much speculation, and
it's started already, but he's tied down long term.
I think he'll be in a Palace shirt at least until
the end of next season and if we gain promotion we
could see him around for a while yet.
What's been your impression of
Stephen Dobbie since he moved to Selhurst?
He wasn't at his best last time out against Leeds,
but he's certainly impressed. He's slotted right in
and has the right footballing brain to play within
our system and his relationship with Holloway has
allowed him to blend in seamlessly. Will he be
missed when we play you? I don't think so. We've got
an incredibly strong midfield - arguably the best in
the league - and there are plenty who can step into
Whisper it quietly, but most
Brighton fans appreciate just what you've achieved
this season on a pretty low budget. What does it
come down to?
More than anything it's belief.
The run at the beginning of the season set the tone.
The fans, the staff, the players - everyone
connected with the club - knows we're good enough.
We've also made some brilliant signings this season.
Some diamonds in the rough. The balance of our squad
is also a massive factor. We've got young, hungry
players bolstered by some real experience heads
who've played international football at high levels.
On the pitch we have a mixture of no-nonsense
players like Jedinak and Murray who go out and get a
job done and some incredibly creativity with the
likes of Zaha, Williams and Moritz.
How would Palace fans feel
about us two meeting at some stage in the play-offs?
It'd certainly be interesting.
Can you imagine that as a final? What a day out.
Plus Wembley isn't too far away so it'd be a short
trip back south of the river for the celebrations. I
don't think you'll get into the playoffs though, so
it's quite unlikely to happen.
There will be a record Amex
attendance packed in on Sunday. How do Palace fans
feel about their second trip to The Amex?
I can't speak for everyone, but
I'm confident. I'm looking forward to everything bar
catching the bloody train home. Seriously, you need
to sort that out. Why do you think it is that in
three meetings so far, Gus Poyet has failed to
register a win over you guys? Because we've been the
better team when we've played you. The 3-0 at
Selhurst could've been closer. I reckon we'd still
have won 11 v 11; but I'm disappointed we didn't win
by a far bigger margin because you were there for
the taking with 10 men. Freedman set his team up to
be difficult to beat and Poyet just couldn't work
out how to break us down. With Holloway we're set up
to outscore the opposition. We try to overload
opposition teams and with 10 men you just can't do
much about that. I'm sure you lot love him, but I
wouldn't want Poyet in charge of us. Even if he
didn't have the Brighton connection. I just don't
rate him. It's his attitude more than anything.
And finally, a prediction
please (no 5-0, 3-0 or 3-1 allowed!)