Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First impressions – May 1

Eagle Eye's regular monthly editorial

And so the season is all but over. A handful of fans will go to Colchester hoping to see a glimpse of the future with the rumoured inclusion of Lewis Grabban, Dave Martin and possibly 15 year-old wunderkind John Bostock on the bench. But for most of us the last action of the season came last Sunday with a welcome even impressive win over Derby.

It leaves us looking at a 13th place finish and a season of underachievement, talk of which has been heightened by the win over a Derby side making a final bid to stay in the race for automatic promotion but who looked every bit as flat and uninspired as Palace have for most of this season.

So are we making progress or not? Peter Taylor has long contended that the current squad is good enough to have made a stronger bid for promotion and that consistency has been the real failing. Many of us however feel that it lacks genuine quality and are left heaving sighs of relief that it’s all over.

We can count the genuine high points on the fingers of one hand and even when sitting pretty with maximum points after three games, it was already apparent that this Palace team was nowhere near good enough. In fact at one stage it was being described by more than a few as the worst Palace side in more than 20 years. In terms of the lack of entertainment that tag still applies, it’s difficult to recall when we’ve been anywhere near as boring as this. We’ve endured some turgid, one-paced fotball and many have laid the blame at Peter Taylor’s doorstep, feeling that he is over-cautious and has deliberately settled for points when victories were needed.

That said, there is a recognition that building a team takes time. Some believe that Taylor has done well with a side shorn above all of the talent of Andy Johnson and also missing Emmerson Boyce (arguably our best player) the steel of Aki Riihilahti and Mikele Leigertwood in midfield and to a lesser extent Fitz Hall.

The players coming in have been a mixed bag. Again Taylor harldy won the fans over by acquiring journeymen such as Kennedy, Scowcroft, Kuqi and to a lesser extent Lawrence (who has surprised many with some committed displays). Cort has been a solid if unspectacular defender, while Green, Ifill and Martin at least hint at more attacking ambitions, although the first two have struggled for fitness (which may be a constant worry) and the latter is being introduced very gradually.

Looking for pointers for next season is not easy. We had a decent run from Christmas, which suggested we could be a top six side, but that form fell away and there were lame performances at Leeds, Plymouth and Barnsley which had little to recommend them. Good wins over Preston and Derby suggest better times ahead but we still seem to lack a real driving force (although to be fair the entire division seems to be lacking in that respect).

There are now one or two rumours that Taylor may shortly be on his way, either of his own accord or possibly because Simon Jordan fancies the suddenly available Chris Coleman. Whether these rumours have any foundation, one suspects it would be a mistake to change again just at this moment. It has not been a good season, but the thinking of most fans is to wait and see what Taylor does in the summer. Can he bring in some younger players with pace and possibly get rid of some of the deadwood even including one or two of the journeymen he brought in, such as Scowcroft, Kennedy and Kuqi? There are youngsters such as Lewis Grabban coming through, who could make n impact next year, most of us are prepared to wait a little longer to see if Taylor can turn the current drab outfit into something a little more inspiring. It would be silly not to give him the chance.

1 comment:

Tony Spencer said...

Neil Eagle/Blinddieseslim/tony matthews,

I'm currently writing for an Eagles website and often come across your blog which I think is great. I'd be interested in speaking to you about reviving the Eagle Eye, and the possibility of you writing for us. Any chance I could have a contact email for you to discuss more? My email address is