Are woodentops in charge at Selhurst? Among insane decisions in football, away from Luis Suarez’s insistence on fighting tooth and jaw for what Uruguayan officials assure us as are just South America’s ‘different’ cultural traditions, the forced exit of Tony Pulis from Crystal Palace must rank high. To adapt a witty thought in today’s Guardian, ‘mutual consent’ was possibly a typo for ‘mutual contempt’ between Pulis and co-chairman Steve Parish. So Palace start the season without one of the few men in football who could have dragged them out of the mire last season. And all after our own Sixer heaped praise on him ….
It should have been obvious trouble was in store when a Crystal Palace site, The Eagles Beak, asked for a contribution to a project on what other Premier fans thought of their club, and Salut! Sunderland volunteered Pete Sixsmith.
Sixer is fair and decent man but the fairness and decency do not extend to possessing any fondness for Palace or even a willingness to fake it for the sake of inter-club friendship.
The Eagles Beak’s Jay Crame agreed with me that a spot of controversy was no bad thing and warmly welcomed the idea of an infidel chipping in. And this is what Pete wrote, before Parish excommunicated Pulis or Pulis opted to leave the madhouse:
“I would expect Palace to have a decent season. They did well last year and Tony Pulis is a shrewd, if unexciting, operator. He will get the best and more out of his players and I do not envisage Palace being involved in the relegation scrap this year.
I am not fond of Palace as a club. The ground is awful by current standards and inaccessible for us Northerners, who expect to jump on a tube at Kings Cross and get off outside the ground. Palace is bloody difficult – nobody knows quite where it is. The first time I went in 1969, the coach driver ended up at the National Recreation Centre. And we lost 2-0. And got relegated ……..
Since then, Selhurst has been a real graveyard for us so that may be a good reason for not much liking The Glaziers.
But I just cannot engage with them. They seem to be a limbo club, neither London nor Croydon and with a fan base that comes and goes. I always think that there is a sense of artificialness about them – the constant singing and jumping about suggests fans who are more concerned about their image than in watching the football.
However, football-wise, I think that they have a chance of establishing themselves in the top division. Good players like Gayle, Jedinak, Dann and Ledley are solid performers and will work hard. That Palace have produced players like Moses, Clyne and Zaha is a testimony to their Academy and shows that they tap into the local population effectively.
Pulis is your great strength. He is a clever manager who knows how to survive and he is a builder – he should have learned from his experiences at Stoke, where he did pay over the odds for players.”
Pity about the ground, the location and my probably unwarranted anti-Palace prejudices.
* In one of last season’s ‘Who are You?’ interviews, prior to the SAFC vs CrystaL Palace game, with Eagles-supporting top journalist Mick Brown had kind words for both Pulis and the Suits as well as being right about the game about to be played. What can he be thinking now? …
Salut! Sunderland: From looking dead and gone, Palace suddenly seem as capable as many in that bottom 7-11 places to survive (and, of course, did survive – . Is is what you expected of Tony Pulis and how has he managed to give you at least a sporting chance?
… I don’t think anyone realistically expected us to survive when Pulis took over – except for Pulis himself. One of the things he’s done is instilled a confidence and self-belief that had almost totally evaporated; and he’s organised the team so that we’re playing to our (admittedly limited) strengths. We were conceding a horrific number of goals; he’s organised the defence and made us very hard to break down, as Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all found. There were the predictable fears when Pulis came in that we were going to be playing a negative, long-ball game; and not everybody is happy with letting other teams dominate so much of the possession, and trying to hit them on the break. But it’s proved very effective, and we’ve also been playing some very good football at times. Pulis is a fantastically experienced manager, tactically astute and he clearly commands the respect of the players. I like the way he just gets on with the job in a very thorough, professional way. No posturing, no whining. Overall, he’s done a brilliant job.
Salut!: What do you make of the Hosking/Long/ Browett/Parish ownership and how far can they realistically take your club?
They’ve been fantastic. They saved us from extinction. They’re all die-hard fans. They’ve spent within their budget, and, George Burley aside, made the right decisions on managerial appointments. I think when Freedman left us for Bolton, Holloway was exactly the right choice to replace him and get us over the line; and when Holloway was unable to continue, they dug in for Tony Pulis, who again, was obviously the right choice. I really do believe they’re in for the long term, and with plans for a new ground we can become a major force. But a lot depends on surviving this season, of course.
** Steve Parish’s response is eagerly awaited.
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