By Martin Hearnden
Crystal Palace FC was last season’s EPL fairy tale. Stone cold motherless last when Tony Pulis replace the hapless and hopeless Ian Holloway at the end of November, he engineered a remarkable turnaround to see them finish a very respectable 11th with 45 points. So, to see him leave by “mutual consent” a couple of days prior to the big kick off was also remarkable, but not in a good way.
The feeling is that Mr Pulis can be quite a different person to his public persona, quite the control freak. His relationship with Chairman Tony Parish clearly reached breaking point and there was only going to be one winner. Maybe he had a better offer elsewhere? Tim Sherwood and Malky Mackay head the list of out of work Managers desperate for another crack in the Premier League. Either will probably do but the disruption will be harmful. Martin Kelly was signed from Liverpool 24 hours before his new Manager left, wonder what he thinks?
Despite all of that Palace almost nicked a point at Arsenal on Saturday and with the Hammers visiting this weekend maybe the start will be OK. It needs to be. The squad looks in reasonable shape with Hangeland and Fraizer Campbell joining in the off season, Kelly’s recent arrival and Chamakh making last season’s loan permanent. They join the likes of Speroni, Dann, Ledley, Puncheon and Aussie Milak Jedinak in a competent enough side. Further signings in the remaining days of the transfer window will be crucial though if they are to remain competitive. A couple of injuries and it will all go pear shaped very quickly.
You fear that this season is going to be a battle against relegation. The ramshackle and raucous Selhurst Park will remain “a tough place to go”, not to mention find. They must take the 3 points on offer against sides like the Hammers (on Saturday) if they are to have any chance. A second fairy story would be asking too much of the footballing gods, but if you cannot be optimistic at this stage of the season when can you be? So, a final day win against Swansea will see them retain their Premier League status by the skin of their teeth. (Everything crossed).
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