Last night Crystal Palace manager, Sam Allardyce, decided to start Martin Kelly instead of Damien Delaney. This raised a few eye brows but should it have?
In the match against Chelsea at the weekend James Tomkins was substituted at half time because of an injury. It was natural that Scott Dann replaced him. This wasn’t only because Dann is club captain but because he is arguably the third best centre back we have at the club.
Later in the second half when Dann himself had to go off injured it was natural that Damien Delaney replaced him as he is the only other recognised centre back at the club. In the latter stages of the game Martin Kelly came on to help protect our one goal lead.
While Kelly had played as centre back for Liverpool he has only really played at full back in his time at Palace though he has come on a few times under Big Sam and played in the middle.
However, I think pretty much everyone expected Delaney to start last night’s match at Southampton and judging by my Twitter feed it certainly seemed to be the case!
So you can imagine the collective sense of bewilderment when last night’s team sheet came out and Kelly was starting and Delaney was on the bench.
Had he started last night, it would have been Delaney’s first start since the disastrous game at home to Sunderland where we shipped four goals in the first 45 minutes, Delaney was confronted by a fan as he walked off the pitch at half time and subsequently didn’t appear for the second half.
Those of you who saw the Sunderland game that day probably wouldn’t lump all of the blame for that first half on Delaney, Dann was equally woeful as was Hennessey. So why does it seem Delaney is being held more responsible than the other two?
Maybe he isn’t, maybe it is tactical. Someone wondered if Kelly started the game instead of Delaney because Sakho is also left footed and thus didn’t want two left footed centre backs together.
This could be good reasoning after all it seemed to be the opposite problem earlier in the season when Dann and Tomkins played together. Dann seemed to have a hard time adjusting to playing on the left side and seemed to have trouble clearing with his weaker foot.
I think we all know Delaney’s days at the club are numbered, least of all because of his age.
I have gone on record as saying Delaney is my favourite current player because he seems to give his all for Palace and it will be a sad day for me when he leaves the club.
Everyone has that day when they have to say goodbye but I’d prefer to see him start a game or two before that time comes rather than his last start in a Palace shirt being that performance at home to Sunderland.