Friday, April 20, 2007

Putting Palace first

Does Crystal Palace FC ‘owe’ anything to other clubs when selecting teams to ensure that competition remains fair?

In the next two matches, Palace who are safely mid-table, face Barnsley who are fighting relegation and Derby, who are hoping for automatic promotion, and manager Peter Taylor has told the official club website: ‘I'll be tempted to name a young side for Colchester, but not against Barnsley or Derby. We will be playing our strongest team out of fairness to the other clubs in our division… I’m sure people like Birmingham, Sunderland, Wolves and Preston will want us to play the strongest team.’

Aside from the question of whether Palace’s emerging youngsters would actually be a better choice than some of the old stagers who have been playing without distinction all season, fans have been arguing over whether Taylor should be considering other clubs’ interests above those of his own team.

Morally, the answer is yes, but it has been a good few years since clubs were last required by rule to field full-strength teams in the league and few of us believe that if circumstances were different other clubs would do the same for us.

Indeed, Palace supporters will recall a disinterested last day performance by Barnsley at Portsmouth in 2001, which would have sent us to the third tier had it not been for a very late Dougie Freedman goal at Stockport. Portsmouth themselves made very little effort to avoid defeat at West Brom in the final game of 2005, knowing that their defeat might help send rivals Southampton down from the Premiership… it did, but relegated Palace too.

But this is not about any kind of revenge. All season, Palace supporters have yearned to see some of their emerging academy talent break into the squad. With three matches left and nothing to play for, they regard this as the perfect moment to give exciting winger Dave Martin, pacy striker Lewis Grabban and even much-touted 16 year-old Victor Moses a bit of valuable league experience. Not so, it seems. Many Palace fans feel that Taylor’s apparent willingness to put the needs of Birmingham et al above that of his own club is the wrong decision.


Dorking .Eagle said...

Can remember in recent seasons Palace being totally disinterested (well Kevin Miller was anyway) at QPR (losing 6-0), which cost Bury survival, and equally a bland end of season effort at West Brom (losing 2-0) costing Wolves automatic promotion and sending WBA up.

I say Taylor's only loyalty is to Crystal Palace, and developing our yound talent for next season - who's to say the youngsters wouldn't have been a better team than the old stagers anyway - certainly Grabban was the only bright spark up at Barnsley when he came on as sub.

Tony Matthews said...

It's actually quite embarrassing to bang on about how fair we're being to others putting out a strong team blah blah only to then hardly have a shot as go down tamely.

Of course we can say that Barnsley needed it more than we did, but that tells its own story.