Opposition view: Worries persist for Palace fans ahead of Norwich clash despite decent start to the season
- Credit: PA
In the hot seat ahead of Norwich City’s trip to Selhurst Park on Saturday is Tom Maslona, editor of Crystal Palace fanzine Five Year Plan.
After a couple of mid-table finishes, what are the hopes for this season?
The hopes for this season are, unfortunately, the same as every season: survival. Get past the first couple of seasons back and you'll get bored of it too! We had a chance to push forward at the end of the 2017-18 season but our recruitment that summer was very poor and the chance was missed. One season seems to bleed into the next at the moment.
Just two defeats in the opening six games, happy?
There has been a great deal of upset over the lack of recruitment this summer too. The failure to sign a replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka or, incredibly, a forward to replace Michy Batshuayi, who returned to Chelsea, has caused a lot of concern. Despite our mid-table finishes in recent years, some fans expressed worries that our parsimony may finally bite us on the backside this season. Our points total thus far possibly flatters us. Performances have been poor and our results are difficult to analyse. A first league win at Manchester United in 30 years was a huge highlight but a strong side lost at home to Colchester in the Carabao Cup and we also lost at newly promoted Sheffield United. I'll be honest, I'm worried.
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Roy Hodgson seems to be doing a good job, is he popular with Palace fans?
Hodgson divides opinion. He exasperates some fans with his tactical rigidity and reluctance to use substitutes whereas others feel that he is a good fit for our club. I'm in the latter camp. In fact, I'd argue that he's over-achieved with a limited squad: we are usually organised and difficult to beat and all of the players understand their roles. I feel that he's been let down by our chairman and Dougie Freedman, who oversee recruitment.
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Which players have impressed so far this season?
Much as it pains me to say it, Jordan Ayew has surprised many. He was very poor last year whilst on a season-long loan from Swansea City. Having now been signed permanently, he appears much fitter and more committed. It is, though, a sign of how bad our other forwards are that he is now leading the line. Gary Cahill has also come in on a free and, despite his age, has added quality at the back.
And which players have struggled to get going?
Andros Townsend has regressed alarmingly. A player who used to change games has become workmanlike and one-paced to the extent that he has been left out of the side in recent weeks. Our full-backs are particularly weak. Joel Ward is, arguably, a Championship player and Patrick van Aanholt is much better going forward than he is defending.
Wilfried Zaha came close to leaving this summer, has that damaged his relationship with fans?
I love Wilf and, personally, can't blame him for looking to leave; he's running out of time to test himself at the highest level. Most Palace fans probably feel the same. There's no doubt that he disappointed a large number by handing in a transfer request two days before the start of the season but he's been our best player for years and, as a local boy, has huge credit in the bank.
Are you wary of facing Norwich, or has their loss at Burnley eased concerns?
Norwich have really impressed me. I watched their game at Liverpool and thought that they might frequently be torn to pieces but that hasn't been the case. Going forward they look a real threat and the win against Manchester City will give the club a huge boost and confidence as to what they can achieve. In truth, a game at Burnley was as tough a fixture as you could possibly get after that game. Burnley are resilient and tough to beat so I wasn't surprised that Norwich lost there. It's a difficult place to go.
And finally, what is your prediction?
I think that this is a massive game for both sides. We are strong on the road but Palace are a side that Norwich should be looking to beat at home. Similarly, having lost to Sheffield United, it'll be vital that we try to get three points on Saturday. I really believe that this game will provide a clearer indication of both side's capabilities. We don't score many so I'll go with 1-1.
- Tom contributes to the Five Year Plan website and podcast, find out more at fypfanzine.uk