Information: This is an article I wrote for The Eagles Beak and has been published here 1 month it was published on their website. This version may differ slightly from their version.
For the first time since May I am sitting in my home office, in front of my computer with a cup of tea and two slices of toast. The only way this scene could be improved is if I had a few rashers of crispy bacon between the slices of toast. Everything seems at ease in the world.
In reality this is far from the case. On Saturday we lost to West Ham in the evening game at Selhurst Park in a somewhat disappointing performance in weather that would have made a fisherman think twice about venturing outside. Palace lost the game 1-0 but, as is so often the case in football, the score didn’t reflect the game. We’ll feel upset with not taking at least a point from the game and those of you who are more biased than I am might say all three!
After the game, as is usual after a defeat, social media went in to meltdown with opinions such as “Pardew out” to “Benteke is useless!” Both of these are completely ridiculous and I’ll explain why.
Let’s look at the Pardew out subject first. We lost a game. Though it might ilk you to admit it we lost a game to a very good side who’s league position does not reflect the quality of their side. Think back to this point last season when Chelsea were down in the mire, did everyone think they were utter rubbish? Of course not, people were waiting for them to kick in to gear which would happen sooner or later.
Ever since our last game at Everton, Palace fans who are seasoned supporters knew we’d be the ones to hand West Ham their first win. It’s what we do, we obliged Aston Villa last season, we’re generous like that.
I’ve been getting a lot of stick so far this season for being deluded, disrespectful to other teams and whatnot because I said we should have expected to beat teams like West Brom and Bournemouth. Well, West Ham was a game I thought we should get a point from but knew it would go either way. I felt we were pretty close in terms of first eleven but maybe they had that little bit extra.
I’m disappointed we lost, of course I am, but it didn’t upset me in the way losing to West Brom did. West Ham are one of the teams I think will finish in the top half of the table, I think we’ll end up 10th so losing to them isn’t the end of the world.
Should Pardew be sacked because of it? WTF? I have gone on record as having supported him until the end last season and was very critical of him at the beginning of this season. We’ve turned things around and got up to 8th so losing one game, even if it had been against Swansea, wouldn’t be deserving of sacking him. It’s just nonsense. The way things are now we’d have to go on a bad run and sing down to 16th before I would begin to think about a change.
People went on about them being in the bottom 3, so what? Does anyone really pay attention to the league table before the end of November? As things stand we’ve played 8 games, it is nothing more than a form guide. Leicester City are below us. They currently sit in 13th place, does anyone seriously think they are a poor team? Two games ago Everton were 4th, does anyone seriously think they’ll finish there? It’s just silly talk.
Does Pardew have a plan B? Be honest, looking at our bench let alone our squad, could anyone muster up a plan B? I think a one eyed sheep shearer from Auckland could predict what our team is going to be from one game to the next. The only question that needs answering each game is will it be Cabaye or Ledley who will play? In the not too distant future we’ll have the discussion about who will Dann replace, it’s expected to be Delaney even though I don’t think it is as obvious as most people think it is.
So what would you have as a plan B? We don’t have the squad to change shape, style or anything else. Our limit seems to be to swap Cabaye for Ledley, making us more attacking. Anyone else is just bringing on like for like. Sure Fryers is a natural left footed player whereas Kelly isn’t but that doesn’t really change the style or shape. Bringing on Wickham for McArthur gave us two up front but two similar players. Not a plan B just desperation.
So I don’t think we can knock Pardew for that though it has been a common complaint, not just by Palace fans but by fans of his former teams.
I and many other people think that had we kept Dwight Gayle then we’d have that option for a plan B. The big striker and the small striker. The Wright and Bright style. I think it was utter madness to have sold Gayle though I am pleased for the lad. He is getting first team football, goals, getting coached by a class manager and his future is bright. It is our loss!
But let’s not get back in to that discussion. Gayle was sold but he could have been our plan B, running on to flick ons by Benteke.
So we just have to accept that at the moment we are a one trick pony. Stop Benteke and you pretty much stop Palace. On Saturday Wilf played well but his crosses were either too low or too high. Townsend was unlucky and on another day he’d had had a goal.
In short, we are a team that has a plan A and that’s it! If Benteke gets injured then Wickham will fill his role. Benteke has basically replaced Wickham. I don’t see much of a difference to how we played last season except we fanny around with the ball more between the back. Given the chance we still counter on the wings. Maybe our midfield pushes forward a little more but I hardly think it is a transformation. Slightly adapted, maybe?
Benteke Is Rubbish
On what grounds? On the grounds that he missed a penalty? “If you pay £32m for a player and he can’t score from the penalty spot then he’s sh*t!”
What an interesting and well informed opinion some of our fans have. I guess this means Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are both utter sh*t too? I guess because their penalties were saved that’s different? Well, Benteke sent the keeper the wrong way, so…
It’s just nonsense, missing a penalty happens but he didn’t “sky” the penalty as some have been saying. Some have said it was like Puncheon’s at White Hart Lane, it was a rugby conversion. Utter rubbish!
As you can see in the picture (right) as the ball passed the goal it was in line with the crossbar. It would be classed as putting it wide rather than over. But we are arguing semantics, it was still a miss and he should have hit the target but that doesn’t mean he’s sh*t.
So much hype has gone on the last week about Benteke scoring the quickest goal in a FIFA World Cup game. So what? Benteke scored in 8.1 seconds against Gibraltar, a bunch of amateurs. Benteke later went on to score a hat trick.
Don’t get me wrong, I am taking nothing away from him but the previous fastest goal is something to crow about. It was by David Gualtieri for San Marino v England in 1993, it took 8.3 seconds after a disastrous back pass by Stuart Pearce. That is something to hype up!
San Marino went on to lose the game 1-7 with Ian Wright scoring 4 goals! Does Ian Wright go on about scoring 4 past San Marino? To be fair it isn’t Benteke who is hyping this up, it is the media.
But my point is scoring the fastest World Cup goal doesn’t make you a great player else Gualtieri would have been a world great and scoring a hat trick against an amateur team like Gibraltar or San Marino doesn’t mean you are infallible.
Christian Benteke, as Ian Wright was before him, is a human and is liable to make a mistake. One hat trick doesn’t make you great and one penalty miss doesn’t make you rubbish.
I wish Palace fans would wait 12 hours before going on a moan rampage, calling out players, wanting the manager sacked or saying we are rubbish. Sure you get frustrated, we all do but tweeting the players calling them names helps nobody and just makes you seem stupid.
One last thing. I get annoyed when someone says that a striker sh*t if they don’t score a goal. If you are a football fan you must be knowledgeable enough to know a striker’s job isn’t just about scoring goals. A striker’s job is to make runs, drawing defenders out of position, winning headers, link up play, holding the ball up, flicking on balls, running the channels and a lot more ‘dirty’ work which largely goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
Just because a striker doesn’t score and we lose, it doesn’t mean they have not played well.