The moment the final whistle went at Wembley in the Championship Play Off final last May, I knew instantly that for Crystal Palace, this season was going to be one with great difficulty.
The Eagles always had an uphill task on their hands in order to sustain their Premier League status come May; and after a rather challenging opening to their season, this task has grown a lot steeper and unrealistic.
I know what some of you are thinking, ‘you’re a Brighton fan, of course you are going to slag Palace off!” and yes, part of me is secretly enjoying watching my rival team get beat, no, stuffed on Match of the Day, but also I think a lot of football fans, including possible some of Palace’s own, are not looking forward to the next few months.
Three factors help to convince me that Crystal Palace will make a swift return to England’s’ second tier of football next season. Firstly, the manager- Ian Holloway may be somewhat of a character that brings that little more to the Premier League, but tactically he isn’t the strongest managers. He also has that philosophy he brings to whatever team he manages; the old rough, hoof and hang on to what we got routine. I’m sorry but Ollie might have the credentials to get teams into the premier league- but not to keep them there.
Secondly, the transfer window wasn’t one that favoured Palace. They lost Wilfred Zaha, who isn’t even getting a sniff under David Moyes and failed to get him back on Loan. Then they brought in Chamakh; Perhaps the worst striker in the Premier League. Eagles’ fans must have feared for their lives when they heard the Arsenal flop was moving to Selhurst Park on 50k a week! Also signing Reading double Jimmy Kebe and Adrian Mariappa, two players that last year experienced top flight football for the first time and suffered relegation early into the season haven’t proven they have what it takes. To sum it up, Palace is unfortunately a Championship team with Premier League clowns and wannabes.
Thirdly, the league itself is a massive step up from the Championship. There are not as many games in a regular season depending on cup runs. The teams therefore are even fresher and more prepared for the next game. The championship is a funny old league where results are to be honest unpredictable. But in the Premier League, you can almost count upon the big six winning their games most weeks, you could easily predict the league table standings on the final day in August and come very close to the real thing, it is a tough old league and without the quality you will struggle to adapt.
Today I heard from sources that Liverpool stuffed Palace in their encounter at Anfield- especially in the first half of the game, it could easily have been 5 or 6 at half time. 3-0 is game over in the Premier League and for Palace; they knew by half time they were defeated.
I fear for you Palace Fans, I’m worried that you will have to watch a lot of pain this season as you see your side struggle to cope to life in England’s’ elite division. But eh, I look forward to the matchday derbies between Palace and Brighton when we face each other in the Championship next season. You never know, Palace may stay up, but if you do fall through the trapdoor into the Championship, we (as in Brighton Hove Albion) may be the team replacing you in the Premier League.
But all rivalry aside, Crystal Palace are a good example to show the difference in class between the top two divisions in England, and what you need to cope. Hull has the Manager in Steve Bruce, and Cardiff has spent the money- Palace hasn’t done either and look where they are. So if your team do get promoted to the Premier League, prepare for it in the summer or prepare for a season worth forgetting.