Information: This is an article I wrote for The Eagles Beak and is published here 1 month after it was published on their website. This version may differ slightly from their version.
Just a day or two left of 2016 and hopefully the nightmare will be over.
Yes, 2016 and all the misery that it brought with it will be consigned to the
anals annals of history. There isn’t anyone in my circle of acquaintances who isn’t happy to say goodbye to 2016 for whatever reason. It isn’t just the seemingly endless celebrity deaths but people seem to have had a tough year on a personal and professional level.
Of course, if you are reading this then chances are that you are a Palace fan and we all know what a year we’ve had in the league.
Some of you could point to our visit to Wembley as a highlight of the year but I think that should be put into the column of negatives because, once again, it gave us false hope of achieving something only to have it cruelly removed to leave us feeling dejected, robbed and cheated by life. Hell, fete didn’t even allow us the luxury of a few minutes to basque in the glory of being in the lead before we were brought crashing back down to earth with a bump.
In my opinion, this year’s visit to Wembley was worse than it was 26 years ago. Those of you who are veteran fans like myself will remember that back in 1990 the cup final was the cherry on the cake. We’d been tipped to go straight back down after being promoted the previous season through the play-offs. We’d suffered the humiliation of a 9-0 hammering at Anfield and we were without Ian Wright, the star of our team, for almost half a season though a leg fracture which he repeated in a come back game.
There was great cause for optimism going into the final back then. We were safe from relegation and we had Wright back for the final, albeit as a substitute. We treated the final as a bonus and anything we managed to take from the day was a bonus and when you consider that the following season the club finished third, the final was a springboard to bigger things.
Compare that to 2016 in which our visit to Wembley was far from the cherry on the cake. If anything it was papering over the cracks and we were told it was payment for the previous five months of abject performances in the league. Our cup run was held up as an excuse for our poor league form and if anything it made the final a must win game for us because we’d sacrificed so much by not performing in the league. Last season we were far from relieved at achieving safety from relegation, we were dumbfounded that we got as close as we did to going down so we expected a lot more than a nice day out!
We were sold the idea that we’d put all our eggs in the cup run basket when deep down we all know that was nonsense. Any top flight team should be able to compete on two fronts without a problem so something was obviously wrong behind the scenes. If you add to it the fact that Alan Pardew and Steve Parish repeatedly fed us rubbish only served to anger us fans and it is something which extended well into our current season.
All of this culminated in the news just before Christmas that Pardew had been ‘asked to stand down as Palace manager’, which was a funny way of putting things but maybe the perfect end to 2016?
Personally, I have nothing against Pardew. He totally lost my confidence at the end of November with the way the team had been playing but more with his post match ramblings which anyone could see were wrong. I think he wanted the best for Palace but the simple truth is that he wasn’t the right man for the job and sometimes when we want something so, so badly we can’t do right for wrong and make a hash of things.
To be fair to Pardew he had a lot to contend with. He still had a lot of players left over from the Holloway-Pulis-Warnock eras which we seemed to not be able to move on and that didn’t help with building depth to the squad but he certainly didn’t help himself most of the time, whether it was out of misplaced loyalty to the players or his arrogance I am not sure.
There are not many former managers I would give a welcome back to Selhurst as an opposition manager but Pardew would be one of them. He meant well, tried to do the best for us but couldn’t achieve it. Maybe one day he’ll write a book.
So, from my point of view Alan Pardew won’t get any abuse when our paths cross next but I am pretty glad to see the back of him and of 2016.
Bring on 2017. Onwards and upwards!