Crystal Palace 1 - West Bromwich Albion 0
Despite confirmation of the inevitable on Tuesday night I was looking forward to the game and a positive performance.
My heart sank a bit on seeing the team sheet with Phillips out - something you'd not really have said even 10 games ago but he's been brilliant under Moore in a system that plays to his strengths. And worse, it looked like rather than replace him like-for-like that someone would be shunted out wide right for Krychowiak to come into the centre - I'd have preferred to give anyone with pace a go from Burke, Leko, Sturridge or Chadli but I remained in hope that of the options, Brunt would be out there to take care of the ball and hit inswing crosses or shots.
From kick-off it was obvious JRod was out there and I thought this was a bad decision - it meant 2 players not being in the same roles that have worked for us but also, I'm afraid to say, returned us back to what Pulis and, to an extent, Pardew kept getting wrong - no pace on the wing, therefore no way to get up the pitch and support Rondon.
I love Big Dave, he's given us some pride back and exposed the other charlatans who were in charge with these players but he fell into the same trap as them here.
And I think it's fair to say that the first half was a return to Pulis Albion for the above reasons - we had a couple of half chances but it was mostly wave after wave of Palace.
We defended well but we were getting real problems down the right - not only could JRod not impact the game going forwards but he couldn't handle the brutal pace of Van Aarnholt and Zaha and they caused us lots of problems. With better finishing we might have gone it at the break a goal or 2 down. When we did get the ball we couldn't keep it and Rondon cut a lone figure.
2nd half we pressed up a bit and looked a bit better but we still had creativity problems - we had some promising looking breaks but didn't have anyone on the pitch who could hit the right pass and at the other end we had some more lucky escapes.
In fairness to Moore and his staff they didn't mess about, bringing on Chadli for Krychowiak and shifting JRod to the centre. I can understand it but again I'd have given Burke a go to try and push Palace back a bit.
Unfortunately Chadli looked every inch a player without minutes in him and he gave the ball away sloppily a few times before Palace took the lead on 70 minutes, again with an overload on our right hand side.
I thought Moore reacted too quicky in swapping Rondon for HRK instantly - I'd really have liked to see Rondon and Sturridge given 10-15 minutes together. We rallied a bit and through sheer hard work and basic wing play McClean created a very good chance for JRod who failed to make contact from 6 yards for a certain goal and then Chadli who again took too many touches instead of pulling the trigger.
Sturridge came on but Palace scored another from their left side again, aided by a lucky deflection and poor tracking.
And that was that - Uncle Roy again applied the boa constrictor to the match, as he does, and squeezed it out without any danger.
I think the season ticket pricing approach is a good move and I still think our best way to go is to try and carry momentum into next season with as many retained players as we can and continuity on the coaching side. The pople who have stepped in deserve to be involved. I will still go for Pearson - he's done it before, he has an eye for a player, his teams play entertaining football and, although he's been a difficult and hard-headed character in the past I don't think that's a bad thing; someone who can manage upwards and take the fight to the idiots in charge as well as the opposition might be no bad thing, especially if he's learned a bit from past mistakes.
Further season reviews...
Thanks to everyone who's contributed and read the reports. Hopefully the next time I write it'll be after a good appointment and transfer window. Enjoy your summers. Boing boing!
Sad to say we just did not have the quality of player that Palace had. In addition to Zaha and Van Aanholt there was Milivojevic, Cabaye and Townsend who all had good games and Tomkins had the measure of Rondon whenever the very few decent balls came his way.
We just have to get more pace into our team. As for Sturridge and Krychowiak neither looked anything like fit. Sturridge was set up with a decent chance just about 12 yds out, his first touch took the ball five yards in front of him. I felt for Brunt who gave everything and looked totally shattered at the end.
Player of the season should probably be a pass this year but if it goes ahead anyone from Dawson, Foster and Hegazi.
Many thanks to Brendan for his colossal shift this season.
After the final nail was hammered in by Southampton the Palace game was always going to be a struggle. We stuck to the task and didn't fold, but created very little. Not surprising, I suppose.
So our 'anno horribilis' (to plagiarize Her Majesty) has come to an end. Well, sort of. The question is, what next? The board have a bit of a dilemma. Moore is hugely popular and rightly so. If he is not chosen as our next manager a lot of fans will be pissed off, but I can't see him being given the job. If he had had ten games I think he would have kept us up, but he may not be ready yet for the grind of getting out of the Championship. If he doesn't get the job I hope he is rewarded with a key role in the club.
When I look at the playing staff, it's hard to imagine what the team will look like in August. The loanees will be gone, the prima-donnas and hangers-on should be rooted out, our premium players will be sniped, our old legs will be even older and our young legs are untried. I don't see an immediate assault on promotion, unless we can keep players like Dawson, Phillips, Gibbs, Rondon and Jrod. And we will need to recruit a handfull of players tough enough to withstand the rigors of the Championship. It's a big ask. I just hope we don't end up like Sunderland.
We have talked about the disastrous tenures of Pardew and football's anti-Christ, Pulis, but our Chinese owners have a lot to answer for. I hope Jenkins is able to bridge the gap and he sticks around long enough to see the job through. It may take a while.
I'd also like to thank Brendan for the great analysis week in week out. Well done!
See you in the Championship.
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