This is Jay Crame‘s* second trip to the Who are You? hotseat. Jay, founder and editor of the Crystal Palace fan site, The Eagles Beak, sat in it for the Palace vs SAFC fixture last season, predicted a 2-1 home win and was shocked to see us take the three points. Of course we all know what happened in the return game at the SoL. He thinks it’ll be comfortable for an even stronger Palace side this time. Can Big Sam prove him wrong? …
Salut! Sunderland: The Palace revolution keeps on delivering. Pardew appears to be proving last season’s excellent form was no fluke. What is going so right for you?
A lot can be said for feeling welcome at a club which is just it. It was no secret how he was treated by fans at his former club but he just fits at Palace. He has arrived at Palace as a former player so would always get more time than most but he has taken a decent squad on a few steps more and something quite special is being put together. Pardew was obviously key to us signing Cabaye which was a real sign of intent by the club heading into this season.
Cabaye has great class, as well as a nasty side, but who else has been key to your success this season?
Cabaye has been our marquee signing and proved that he has been worth every penny of the transfer fee we shelled out for him. Adds real quality in the middle of the pitch and his form has been instrumental in our good season so far. Him apart, his midfield partner James McArthur does not get enough praise. He does the quiet job alongside him and while he does not do the spectacular, he works so hard for the team it is unreal. Also Scott Dann at the heart of our defence, why he has not been called up to play for England is a complete mystery to many.
And I suppose Wickham will come on against SAFC and do what he rarely did for us – score goals. How has he been doing?
The signs have been very encouraging but he has missed a number of games through injury. He just fits out formation better than any striker that we have at the club and when he has played he has shown a lot of promise. He was excellent in our win away at Chelsea, man of the match for some without scoring but doing that lone striker role bringing into play our exciting quick midfield. Looking forward to seeing much more from him.
It is strange to think many neutrals thought the owners were either mad or bad in the way they handled Tony Pulis but I imagine most if not all fans would now be saying “thank heavens”. Your assessment?
We have plenty to thank Tony Pulis for but the way it ended left a very bitter taste in the mouth. Knowing what we know now, it all worked out for us (or at least so far) but it was all very peculiar two days before the start of a new season. It is no secret that there were disagreements about the wage structure and if that is part of the reason then as a club with a lot of history when it comes to financial difficulties, most fans are glad that the owners took a stance.
How far can they take the club? Can you use the lure of London to get the players to force a way into serious CL reckoning?
That is a massive question. To suggest Champions League football sounds completely ludicrous but when you think about is sensibly, if our home form was actually any good last season we could well have challenged. You simply cannot plan these things and have to take opportunities with both hands as and when they arise but for me it should be small steps. Finishing higher than 10th this season would for me be seen as a good season but if we continue to get results like we have of late then Europe League may well come into view. It’s very exciting times indeed.
You murdered us at the Stadium of Light but struggled in the earlier game at your place. How much better a side would you say you are now?
We had real problems at home last season where teams came to defend and the onus was on us to take the game on. This season is a little different in that we are beating the teams that we should, on paper, be beating at home.
Hopefully that continues as while our away form continues to a certain extent it is points at home we will be looking for more of this season. The squad is one of the best we have seen at Palace with plenty of pace and excitement. Cabaye is that focal point that feeds the likes of Puncheon, Zaha and Bolasie. When you consider last season we had Mile Jedinak in that role, no offence to big Aussie but it is a real upgrade.
Have you been surprised by yet another wretched start for Sunderland or did you see it coming?
From the outside looking in, it is quite odd to see Sunderland do what they do season in season out. It is hard to pinpoint what the problem is, whether it is poor decision making in the managerial position or the owners of the club just content with just surviving each season. In truth, I am not
surprised where you find yourselves this season at all, and it is a similar pattern again with the change of manager at a very similar stage [Jay is obviously referring to what happened with Poyet replacing PDC, rather than last season’s late change – Ed] .
Is there a single player in our squad who could even win a place on your bench?
It is no secret that we have struggled up front at times and I have always thought that Steven Fletcher would fit out systems. I also think van Aarnholt and Lens are both decent players
And what thoughts do you have on our club, fans, city, region, Big Sam?
The appointment of Sam Allardyce is an interesting one and arguably the most sensible appointment that the club have made. He knows the Premier League and gives you a fighting chance of escaping the dreaded bottom three this season. You do not have to like the guy but he will get you the results as long as the players buy into his style of football. West Ham fans did not like it but he did do a decent job, particularly last season.
What are you highs and lows as a Palace fans?
How long do you have? There are plenty of contenders for each category there which could probably fill an entire book! I will have to say the lowest of the low was being less than 24 hours from going of business in 2010. That was simply horrendous to go through as a fan. As for highs, we have had some great experiences being promoted through the play-offs, not least the latest one again Watford but for me it is still the FA Cup Semi Final in 1990.
Liverpool had beaten us 9-0 in the league earlier in the season and it was billed a miss-match. Winning 4-3 and the way that the game played out was truly amazing.
Who have been the greatest players you’ve seen – or wish you’d been around in earlier times to see?
Attilio Lombardo. A player with the calibre of the like I had not witnessed at the club before in my time supporting the club. He was head and shoulders above anyone else we had in the team at the time. It was a real coup at the time as there was no internet with transfer rumours going on, it was out of
the blue and he was a massive name in European football having arrived from Juventus.
And the worst duds?
There have been a few but the one I will mention is another Italian – Michele Padovano. Another player we signed from Juventus and it was for a big fee for the time. This one did not work out and through a combination of injury and poor form. He has since served time for drug offences so it did not really pan out for him after a lot of promise in his early years.
Guess the Score in Crystal Palace vs SAFC and you may win a rollover prize whoever you support: https://safc.blog/2015/11/crystal-palace-v-sunderland-guess-the-score-rollover-another-monday-night-win/
What will be this season’s top four?
Arsenal for title just pipping Manchester City with Manchester United and Liverpool third and fourth.
Q. The bottom three? And our clubs’ finishing position if not mentioned?
I did have a real feeling that the promoted three clubs will end up going back down but Watford have really picked up of late. Having played them though, if teams stop their front two they have little else so a loss of form or injury will see them down there. I will say Bournemouth, Norwich City and one from a few clubs which I think will be very tight. At this moment I will say Villa but Remy Garde may well see them alright as will Allardyce for you.
Diving is alive and well. Time to stop fretting about it and get our players coached to do it better or should we come down on offenders as hard as it takes?
Come down hard on offenders even if it is retrospective action taken. Referees have such a hard enough job as it is let alone players trying to pull a fast one. It is happening all too often and if the penalties for diving were more strict then managers will have to tell players not to do it.
Best ref, worst ref in the Premier?
For us it has to be Mark Clattenburg as the worst as we have rarely got anything out of him at all. As for the best, that is a real struggle to choose as not one stands out for me.
One step the authorities or Palace should take to improve the lot of ordinary fans?
Safe standing. It is a no brainer for me. Already used successfully on the continent for years.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
Yes, I will be there being a season ticket holder although I have to say I do not envy Sunderland fans’ journey. I think the game was on a bank holiday last season and we play you at your place midweek later in the season. A big thanks to the so called fixture computer. We certainly owe you one from last season so I am going to go with a 2-0 win the Eagles.
* Jay Crame on himself:
I am Jay, founder and editor of TEB which has been going for over three years now and growing beyond anything I ever imagined. It has also led to work for PalaceFanTV and the Croydon Advertiser and I am also co-presented on the Back Of The Net football show (@_backofthenet_) as well as another sports show on community radio I have been a Palace fan since the late eighties so I have seen plenty of ups and downs in that time so thoroughly enjoying what the club are experiencing right now.
Interview: Colin Randall