Crystal Palace are just three games into the Premier League season, but already there isn’t so much a rumble of discontent at Selhurst Park, but a roar.
Short-termism is much maligned in football, but we’ve barely made it into September and a series of inept, rudderless performances have resulted in a large question mark over Frank de Boer’s future as Crystal Palace manager, a question mark which means that the board have a stark decision facing them: back him or sack him.
Frank de Boer holds his head in his hands as Crystal Palace fall further behindThese weaknesses were laid bare against Swansea who, by the way, really aren’t a very good side. The loss combined with this fact is what rankles the most, because they didn’t even have to play well to beat us, they just had to wait for us to make that inevitable mistake. Or two.
Up until the 44th minute a case could be made for Crystal Palace being the more likely to score – it would be a weak one, but it could be made.
Sure, Swansea had the greater share of possession but they were directionless and failed to create any real chances of note – this wasn’t fast, attacking football we were facing but sideways and backwards ball retention. They still looked better than us, but more likely to score? Probably not.
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All that changed of course when Tammy Abraham, exactly the kind of dynamic forward we are crying out for, by the way, tucked away Swansea’s first.
The reaction was a half-time switch, albeit a confusing one. The only left footed defender was removed, Joel Ward shifted to an unfamiliar left back role and arguably our best centre-half so far this season moved out to right full back.
Naturally, it was a mistake from Martin Kelly, who surely should have been sacrificed at half-time instead, even if he had just been brought on.
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I’m sure anyone grasping at straws will point to the improvement at 2-0. I would point them towards Swansea coasting to what had developed into a virtually assured win, there was no need for them to take risks, expend unnecessary energy. Even then, we only managed a couple of shots on target.
Frank de Boer is far from an innocent party but the problems at Crystal Palace run deeper than that at the moment. Nobody apart from Steve Parish and Frank de Boer know the assurances he was given on taking the job, but I’m having a hard time believing Parish was naïve enough to believe this squad to be capable of the kind of revolution that he had watched fail so miserably under Pardew last season.
All we have done this window is replace the players which have left and failed to address the sub-standard players that have remained at the club.
Sakho’s departure and Delaney’s advancing years meant we had to bring in two defenders just to cover their loss, which we did with Fosu-Mensah and Riedewald. Ledley was released on a free so we needed another body in midfield. Enter Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Are they improvements? With the exception of Sakho, yes. But what of the long-running issues in goal? What of the lack of a real alternative for Benteke? How about the frailty of Martin Kelly? Give even the greatest General in the world an army of men armed with nothing more than viciously sharp pieces of fruit and you’re going to struggle to invade anything more than a small cheese stall on the outskirts of Lille.
In essence, you can’t expect a revolution with exactly the same tools, not least with tools which have well-documented issues.
All that being said, I would be astonished if Frank de Boer was no longer here after the international break.
Our rapid turnover of managers has not come from a trigger-happy owner and I don’t expect that to change now, three games into the season. However, don’t let that distract from the blindingly obvious issues that are plaguing each level of the club, from the players, to the manager to the board. Do not blame one without accepting the shortcomings of the others.
The reality is, the writing is on the wall. There are only five days left of the transfer window to try and scrub it off.