Woosie's Words: Premier League has brought tensions and division to Selhurst Park
Love. It can be cruel and it can be kind. You have your highs and lows, arguments and reconciliations but ultimately love remains intact.
With Crystal Palace, the highs and lows have been fluctuating wildly of late; even for supporters who are used to the topsy turvy nature of following the club.
After Ian Holloway’s resignation, it took the board a month to appoint his successor as Keith Millen stepped in as caretaker manager; and some have criticised them for their perceived inability to select their desired candidate.
Indeed, some have slammed the appointment of Pulis as a backward step for the club, but there is an underlying unease within the club that has nothing to do with Pulis or the board, and everything to do with ‘modern football’. My love affair with Crystal Palace remains firmly intact though.
As a 20-year-old I couldn’t tell you what football was like before this supposed brand of ‘modern football’, I was four months-old when the Premier League was inducted. However, I can tell you that since Palace gained promotion to the Premier League rather a lot has changed; and not all for the better.
Let’s start with the positive aspect of the promotion. Palace ensured financial security for the next four years with a windfall of £120m including potential parachute payments should the club be relegated. The club has the finances now to improve the stadium and consequently further increase the income streams to enable greater sustainability.
The appointment of Pulis is, to some, a backward move for the club.
Palace, who had lost all but two of their matches this season prior to the appointment, took a significant length of time to find their man which drew criticism from many supporters.
The criticism didn’t stop after the appointment as some voiced severe concerns about the style of play Pulis advocated at Stoke.
Such resentment and frustration was perhaps partially a result of Palace’s promotion to the Premier League. Supporters have been angered at ticket prices reaching £55 for the match away at Chelsea, as well as the lack of victories on the pitch. When things aren’t going well, people find things to complain about and voice their frustration.
The rising cost of watching football matches, only to see the team perform abjectly and lose is not only disheartening for many but induces anger and resentment at anyone who has any degree of control over it.
The Palace support, renowned for its community feel and togetherness has gradually been tearing apart.
The heartbeat of South London slowing, the heartstrings becoming detached and sections of the support were growing increasingly tense.
The owners became the subject of this ire, Steve Parish in particular as he took the lead in the negotiations and appears to be the public face of CPFC2010.
People perceive the owners to be making mistakes and are understandably voicing this anger and frustration; but last year in the Championship things were rosier, the players seemed more committed and together whilst youngsters had a greater chance of breaking into the first team.
Of course the owners make mistakes, they accept it themselves, but Pulis’ appointment is a shrewd one in that they have an experienced Premier League manager who has never been relegated.
Nonetheless, the introduction of Pulis to the Palace hot seat brings with it some concerns. The owners have seemingly decided that the short term is the best way to ensure long term stability with this appointment.
The view on Pulis is that his tactics are too direct and boring but perhaps we should wait until we see it at Palace before we judge.
The problem is that the Premier League has become so financially important that clubs are willing to forgo their values and morals in order to remain in the top flight and supporters have become accustomed to wanting instant (relative) success. Palace have not quite done that, but there is a slippery slope which must be avoided.
Stability is crucial, and it is unfortunate for Palace that their previous two managers resigned throwing the idea of stability into turmoil; but the signing of so many players and exclusion of certain names from the 25 man squad were critical mistakes.
Would CPFC2010 have appointed a younger manager with fresh ideas and a new angle to work on for years to come, if the club was still in the championship?
Perhaps, and this would have allowed a long term progression of the club; but would also have increased the chances of relegation compared to the appointment of Pulis which arguably lessens such chances due to his experience.
This is the instant gratification problem of the Premier League. Supporters and clubs alike desire immediate return, if for different reasons.
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