Tuesday, January 30, 2007

By far the greatest team?

Some statistics appear to prove that Palace are useless, but we say they're the greatest team ever. So who's right? It must be us, surely! Tony Matthews sets the record straight on CPFC’s place in the world

For no apparent reason, The Times has produced a statistical chart of the 'greatest ever' team, which has Palace lolloping along in a princely 62nd, some way behind the Seaweed (you see it has taken on a surreal quality already).

The chart seems to be based on the number of points per game won in the top flight (old first division and new fangled Premiership) which strikes me as a bloody silly way of working out the mark of a great team. Since when has winning games been the primary object of football?

There's clearly a cultural imbalance here, because The Times is labouring under the misapprehension that Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal are the three best teams ever, whereas anybody with even half a brain would say ‘no they’re bleeding well not’. (NB: don't look for Chelsea in the top ten, they haven't been a cheque book team for nearly long enough).

If people want to think a football team is good just because it wins all the time then fine, who are we to disturb them? I guess they're the same kind of people who vote for Dire Straits or Coldplay in ‘all time greatest’ music polls instead of, say, Muddy Waters.

I would argue that the most important criteria for a truly great club is not how many cups they've bought but whether the fans know what to expect next. What we're looking for here is a club that can build hope then cruelly shatter illusions and reduce you to tears of joy or embarrassment (usually within the space of 90 minutes). In that category only one name springs to mind… Palace.

Stats can tell you anything you like, but I don't see how four teams who are directly responsible for the sterility, pointlessness even, of modern football can be in any way considered 'great'? What’s so great about clubs who have buggered up the whole sport just cos they can’t take losing? Man U, the Arse, Chelsea and Liverpool are the ultimate spoilt kids who take their ball home if you don’t let them win.

There used to be an adage that you couldn't buy success, but now it's the only way to achieve anything, but don't insult us by calling it an achievement. Chelsea may be 'champions', but let's be quite clear that it is the hollowest of 'triumphs'. What are Chelsea champions of exactly? Champions of nothing.

Palace, meanwhile, are champions of driving their supporters up the pole, of building something promising only for it all to fall down again. We're the kings of making people sigh inwardly to conceal the pain, the clown princes of proper football.

So, there you go, who best represents the greatest club ever? A club that had a fantastic day 17 years ago, and whose fans still appreciate it as the pinnacle of footballing excitement and talk about it as if it was only yesterday? Or some club which has paid a handful of mercenaries to deliver them eight or nine trophies in the last five years but now nobody can remember what they were?

Compare how miserable Arsenal were about winning the FA Cup a couple of years back, just because they came second in the league. God, their attitude stank, Bobby Robson, who presented the beautiful old trophy that day, should have chucked it down the steps at the scowling, Gallic gits. Who wants to support one of the 'best clubs' with an attitude like that?

I'd rather wait the rest of my life for one last shot at winning the FA Cup and have it be a dream come true than win the bloody thing every year but not appreciate it in the slightest. Our days out in the play-offs may not have been the height of foootballing excellence, but they were very personal to us (I’m sure the fans of many other clubs will feel the same) and we’ll cherish them forever.

So, don't give me this 'great club' crap. Here’s the proper ‘official’ best team ever table (according to how interesting a club is)

1st place: Palace – mad as March hares and we love them
2nd... Er, nobody really
Equal joint permanently last: Man U, Chelsea, the Arse and Liverpool – a total waste of time, the lot of 'em.

No comments: