Monday, September 29, 2008

Palace preview

Tomorrow night's fixture at Selhurst Park is the most eagerly-awaited of the season so far, but Saturday's defeat will have left fans feeling flat.

A team that has taken a first-half lead six times in eight matches ought to have more than ten points. This consistent failure to convert leads into wins is worrisome, and does not bode well for those inevitably more regular times when we start to concede a first goal instead of scoring it.

I contemplated writing a somewhat negative early-season assessment of Pardew's stewardship, but resisted knowing full well that three points at Selhurst would ensure all was rosy again, and thus I risked looking stupid.

However I can't ignore that nagging feeling I have that behind the media-savvy image, there is less top-quality management than he might have us believe. When I look at the 16 that comprised the squad on Saturday, I think he'll soon be running out of excuses if our form doesn't improve, or at least become somewhat more consistent.

The Reading game proved how good we could be, yet five games and just four points later we've reverted to script again, and it's very frustrating. Has Pardew's tinkering with tactics, and implictly preferential team selections helped or hindered our points total?

Of those 16 that started on Saturday, three were home-grown but largely brought through by Pardew (Elliot, Sam, Basey), fully ten were signed by Pardew, whilst only Holland, Ambrose and Youga were legacies of an earlier era.

Perhaps I'm falling into the classic trap of believing our players (because I know them best) are better than they really are, but we've won just 9 of our last 33 Championship games. That's 33 times that Pards has prepared, selected and attempted to motivate a team, yet has managed to better the opposition on just 9 occasions.

There have been certain mitigating factors at times, but that's a pretty damning statistic unfortunately. I'm not suggesting he be sacked or anything silly, but am simply drawing attention to the facts (because sometimes his post-match comments like to detract from them).

So what better time to prove that he's more substance than style, than tomorrow night against his old club Crystal Palace? He's hinted at changes from the team that lost to Wednesday, so he will lose credibility if he doesn't carry through his threat.

The players most at risk would appear to be Youga (for Basey), Sam or Bouazza (for Ambrose) and Gray (for Todorov). His most radical choice may be to utilise both Todorov and Gray upfront to add a greater physical presence, whilst preferring Varney over Sam on the right.

As has been made clear previously, I would also far prefer to see Moutaouakil at right-back, but if the gaffer lacks confidence in the Frenchman at the best of times, he certainly won't risk him on an occasion like this one. Meanwhile if Primus is genuinely not 100% fit, is he really likely to do a better job than say Semedo or Cranie at centre-back?

When all is said and done, I would expect Pards to select as follows: Weaver, Cranie, Youga, Hudson, Primus, Holland, Bailey, Bouazza, Ambrose, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliot, Basey, Semedo, Todorov, Sam.

NY Addick predicts Palace 0, Charlton 0. Att: 18, 281.


At 3:37 AM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

NYA, you touched on an excellent point when you suggested that perhaps due to familiarity we have the idea that the Charlton personnel are better than they might actually be.

This pared-down Charlton club is a shadow of its former self. I do not believe there is one player who has suited up for the club so far this year who would make the starting eleven on any Premiership side.

It is my feeling that with the exception of three or four clubs, Charlton is no better or no worse than the rest of the teams in the league, meaning that on any given match day, all variables at work, a win, draw or loss are all strong possibilities.

This has all the makings of a struggle to finish in the top twelve of the division, with a lower finish most certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

I do not believe Alan Pardew is a bad football manager. He just does not have a heck of a lot to work with. Unfortunately, his manner and a number of ego-saving, ill-advised post-match comments has not served him well.

Without the infusion of two or three bona fide Premiership calibre players in the next transfer window, it is going to be a long, frustrating season.

I am fully expecting a loss at Palace. Come on AP, prove me wrong please, this is getting depressing.

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous noel said...

I guess the true judge of a manager is whether his team is playing to as good or better level than the sum of it's parts. I really couldn't say that about us in the way you could certainly say it about Wolves or Bristol City for example...we've had parachute payments, got one of the larger gates, legacy 'premiership' players like Holland/Ambrose/Zhi etc, but seem to hover below expectations with the odd spike (Reading etc) to keep us hoping. The Valley is a moany old place at the best of times and I can see it turning against AP fairly soon if we don't start to get some consistency...


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