Opposition view – Crystal Palace

Matt Woosnam from Five Year Plan fanzine discusses his high’s and lows following Crystal Palace this term.

How’s the season been for you?

It started in January when we nabbed Pardew from Newcastle. Warnock’s football was really poor for the most part and the results reflected that. Certainly everyone felt a change was gonna come, to misquote Sam Cooke. Beating Man City at home was delightful, particularly as it was an evening match, but to also beat Liverpool 3-1 home and away was the stuff dreams are made of really. It hasn’t all been rosy but Pardew has brought confidence and entertainment back, and it feels like we have a long term manager for the first time in over a decade who can do something.

Were you glad to see Neil Warnock sacked and how impressed have you been with Alan Pardew so far?

I think from the answer I gave above it’s clear that Warnock was not my favourite manager. His time had gone, he was relying on his old school ways and passion to get him through. The game has moved on and he is no longer a top manager, he probably would do well in League One or League Two but that won’t happen. Pardew has been a breath of fresh air, I’ve got no idea why Newcastle fans disliked him so much.

Who have been your standout performers and who has flattered to deceive?

Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon and James McArthur have been instrumental for us this season. Dann oozes quality and is confident with the ball at his feet as well as being a solid defender who rarely makes mistakes. Puncheon… well he excites the supporters but he has so much skill, his vision is brilliant and he usually executes passes well. Looking at the England squad a lot of Palace fans feel he deserved a chance, but his slow start to the season perhaps suggests he needs to show that form over the whole season to earn international recognition. Nonetheless, he’s been excellent and important to us this season, his free kicks against Man United, Man City and Liverpool were superb. McArthur is a player you don’t necessarily notice all the time but he does the hard work both defensively and in attack.

I think the only player who has flattered to deceive this season is Mile Jedinak, which probably won’t be a popular opinion with most Palace supporters. But he’s been far below the standards he can reach and his ban for an elbow on Sakho in the West Ham game was disappointing.

Best and worst moments of the campaign?

Best moment was probably the five game winning run under Pardew in his first five matches. Going to Dover in the cup was entertaining, and we avoided slipping up in his first game, and we played some good football in that period, which made a pleasant change from how we were under Warnock.

The worst moment was the reverse to Southampton on Boxing Day where we were comprehensively outplayed under a manager who was out of his depth after some poor results and awful performances.

What positions need strengthening over the summer?

We need a new striker, but I’m sure that is high on the wishlist for Pardew anyway. Another centre back to play alongside Dann is also a must, as Delaney is getting old and we need someone who can pass.

What do you make of Swansea this season?

Swansea is a club that many look up to for financial prudence and entertaining football and I think this season that has continued. I thought after Bony went you would struggle but Bafe Gomis seems to have stepped up to the plate. His celebration is awful, mind. It’s a shame Palace didn’t get Gylfi Sigurdsson in the summer because he has proven to be an outstanding player for you too. What is there to dislike about Swansea? You’ve secured a deserved best ever Premier League finish, congratulations.

Predict the score

That’s a difficult one. I think Palace will play a ‘weakened’ side as Pardew may take a look at players he hasn’t seen much yet. Obviously you’re a good side, and we’ve been poor at home on the whole this season. I’ve got a feeling we will lose 2-1.