Early goal puts us on the back foot
If there was a day on which Crystal Palace needed to make it to half time without conceding it was today. We failed to get close enough though, we sat back and invited a decent side to dominate us too easily. Southampton haven’t yet reached the impressive heights that they’ve set themselves in previous seasons but they’re still a tidy side and when you fail to press them as we did in the first 30 minutes then it’s always going to be difficult.
Part of that attitude I think stemmed from the opening goal coming just six minutes into the game. As I’m going to expand on in a second, our fragile confidence is the one stumbling block must focus on right away and I think we saw that today. The reaction to the goal was to sit in and allow Southampton the ball but with no Zaha, Andros Townsend being heavily marked and Jason Puncheon’s pace being comparable to that of a broken down Lada, looking to hit solely on the break is and was a dangerous approach to take.
Hodgson has work to do to turn Crystal Palace around
Either Frank de Boer, recent results or a mixture of both have rendered this Crystal Palace side terrified. Since de Boer’s departure, it has emerged that there was discontent within the squad at his methods and his tone – apparently telling under=performing players that they weren’t good enough to play for the football club isn’t an acceptable way to treat players.
Irrespective of the source, the players look shaken and frightened of where the next mistake will come from. It’s perfectly standard of course, when you’ve lost the first four Premier League games, a degree of anxiety is expected but it hamstrung us on Saturday, we didn’t look like we believed that we could go toe-to-toe with Southampton.
If Hodgson has to work on one thing right away it is to address this. Sam Allardyce brought a lot of things to the club when he replaced Pardew but the key, in my opinion, was restoring the Palace players to a more even keel. Under Alan Pardew we went on runs of games with the runs of losses lengthening every time they came around and by the end, it looked like we just couldn’t be dragged out of the mire. We could then and we can now.
Things aren’t going to get easier anytime soon, but don’t fear
So, where next? Two consecutive Saturdays in Manchester against the two sides that have dominated the league so far this season. Then the champions. It is not inconceivable now to think that we could extend our winless run, and possibly pointless one, into the third week of October, which is a scary thought indeed. That’d be eight games and over a fifth of the season.
What’s important in the next three games is that we give them a game, not that we pick up any points. Don’t misunderstand me, the points would be welcome and priceless but staying in matches, keeping things tight at the back and not affording the opposition too much respect is vital. We need to be saying after these three games that “if we play like that against other teams then we’ll pick up points”.
These aren’t the games that we need to win to keep us in the league but we must be prepared for when those games do come around, that should be the key goal in the next three fixtures.