The decisions the Crystal Palace hierarchy make in the next week could have devastating and far-reaching consequences, that is no over-exaggeration. Three consecutive Premier League losses has brought the future (or rather, lack of) of Frank de Boer as Crystal Palace manager into sharp focus. The choices are clear – he stays and we back him before the transfer window closes or he goes and we admit defeat in this whole experiment.
It’s an unpopular opinion at the moment but we must choose the former.
Read more: Back Frank de Boer or sack him
To say that our problems are the sole result of the new man in charge is patently wrong. Some of the weaknesses of the squad were addressed in January, Milivojevic was a natural replacement for Mile Jedinak and a left back was not just necessary, it was well overdue.
The issues didn’t end there though, but sadly the transfer movement did. Martin Kelly is simply not Premier League quality, there is a striking lack of alternatives to Benteke and Wayne Hennessey has proved time and time again that he cannot be trusted at this level. Some goalkeepers keep you in games, some routinely keep you out of them.
When I said after the loss at home to Swansea we either needed to back or sack Frank de Boer, I didn’t honestly believe we would choose to sack him and I’d still be surprised if that were the case. We must bring in players to help realise his vision because if the opening few games have demonstrated anything it is that we don’t currently have enough of them. Some of our players have skated by on doubtful ability and poor form for far too long.
Another thing rankles with me as well: people level the failure of the new system at de Boer’s feet, not because it’s inherently wrong but because it’s perceived as him trying to replicate what he achieved at Ajax. It’s idealistic, it’s misguided, it’s arrogant.
At Ajax he played 4-3-3, ironically the formation which saw an improvement in the second half of the Swansea game. He may have got it wrong with 3 at the back, only time will tell with respect to that, but it is not some misguided attempt at replicating the past. He came in, assessed the squad and believed that the best way to implement a more progressive system was by doing so.
Read more: 3 lessons learned from defeat at Anfield
Parting company with Frank de Boer throws up all sorts of other problems too. Who next? We’re 3 games into the season, there hasn’t been a spate of sackings and there isn’t a lot of available managers knocking around. It would be a short term appointment at best, Allardyce until the end of the season is the best case scenario and new sporting director Freedman in charge is the worst.
I am not saying change isn’t necessary, far from it. The manager has to adapt and learn from his mistakes, the players need to display some more backbone and the board must back the manager if we are to stand any chance of getting out of this because if we continue in this vein we will be relegated.
That being said, another change now would be stink of short-termism, we’d have abandoned the plan again. We could stand on the precipice of something that could shape our future in the next decade, we can’t chuck it away after three games.
Have we really given it a go as a club? Has de Boer been given all the tools to succeed? The answer is a resounding no. So the way forward is clear – we give them to him. After that? We get down to Selhurst Park and we get behind the team, because that’s what we have always done and that is what we will always do.