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Hopkin Looking To Curl One…

A regular blog dedicated to Crystal Palace Football Club through the eyes of a fanatical supporter, contemplating everything from results to the colour of Stuart O'Keefe's boot laces…

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

The Daily Round-Up: Wolves, Lost Leads And Wilf

With 2013 a matter of hours away, the main story relating to us, in the eyes of the press at least, remains the future of Wilfried Zaha. Having spoken about it yesterday and on countless occasions in the past, I see no real reason to go over it once more, as there is nothing, other that a tweet from a fake Tom Soares twitter account, which is any different to what we knew yesterday. Yes, he looks as though he’s ready to move on, but until a bid is accepted, there is nothing significant to discuss. It’s quite simple, really.

Tomorrow afternoon, we welcome a severely out of form Wolves side to Selhurst Park in a game which even the most pessimistic of Palace fans will see as winnable. Stale Solbakken hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts to life in the Midlands, with his team having won only three of their last 15 matches, leaving their supporters feeling decidedly restless heading into the New Year.

Admittedly, we’re not the greatest run of form ourselves, having only won once in our last eight games, but you’d like to think that home advantage will see us over the line against a side who’ve endured back-to-back home defeats at the hands of Peterborough and Ipswich. Obviously, the increased speculation on Wilf’s future could lead to a performance similar to the one at The City Ground, which saw him substituted midway through the second half, but with Jonny Williams seemingly on the road to full recovery (fingers and toes crossed), and Glenn Murray continuing to find the net with incredible regularity, I remain confident of a good team performance.

The issue worrying most supporters, is the timing of the goals we are conceding, with Saturday’s trip to Forest acting as a perfect example. Having got another early lead, we found ourselves heading into half-time a 1 – 1, thanks to a stoppage time strike from the notorious salad dodger, Andy Reid. Similarly, in the third minute of added time at the end of the game, after once again going in front, Billy Sharp managed to get a header in on goal, which bounced off the post and fell invitingly back towards his feet. He levelled up the scores, and the inquest began yet again.

When you look at our results on paper, nothing appears to be going wrong. We’ve only lost twice in over 20 games and we’re scoring goals more frequently than we have for a number of years, but when you realise how many points we’ve surrendered from winning positions since the season began, you can’t help but wonder what might have been. From the very first day, when we incredibly let a 2 – 1 lead slip at home to lose 3 – 2 in the final minutes against Watford, it’s been a trend.

Obviously, we’ve won our fair share of games too, hence our impressive league position going into 2013, but had even half of the points we had within our grasp been held onto since August, we’d be comfortably placed within the automatic promotion places, and with January already looking like a month when our competitors at the top will be bringing in sizeable reinforcements, it’s a source of frustration for everyone at the club.

A lot of people have been quick to ask if Ian Holloway may be one of the reasons behind our recent slackness in the final minutes of halves, but I don’t think he’s got a great deal to do with it. Quite often, the goals have come via a sloppy pass, or a player being careless in possession, and with all due respect, Ollie isn’t inside each and every players mind as the minutes tick down. It’s quite likely, that the fear of conceding late goals has snuck into the collective thoughts of our players, as it has happened so often this season, forming a sort of inevitable habit, similar to our apparent inability to win games away from home not so long ago.

On that occasion, it became a running joke amongst the fans, with the players no doubt aware of it, too. When it changed, it wasn’t because drastic changes had been made, just that the team had managed to get the monkey off their back by winning one, banishing negative thoughts and a large chunk of the inevitable nerves. It’s just something we’re going through at the moment, but I’m certain it will change sooner rather than later. Hopefully with a solid victory against Wolves tomorrow.

Here’s today’s round-up.

Enjoy.

PS. Happy New Year!

All the news from SE25 in the last 24 hours

Here’s the official site’s preview of tomorrow’s game, with a host of statistics thrown in for good measure.

We first met in League opposition over ninety years ago in our first ever season in Division Two and Wolves were the visitors to our previous ground at The Nest, which used to be opposite Selhurst Station, on Saturday 19th November 1921 when a goal from Bert Menlove was sufficient to earn a point for Palace and on Wolves’ first visit to Selhurst Park Palace claimed both the points with a 2-1 victory on 13th December 1924, the Palace goals coming from Tom Hoddinott and Bill Hand.

Wolves

Whilst Stale Solbakken is determined to see his team put on a more solid display then they have recently, with changes in mind to ensure they get a positive result.

“We had a very offensive team against Ipswich, playing with two defensive midfielders but then Doyler, Sigurdarson and Sako behind Sylvan.
“It was more or less the same against Birmingham but with Dave Davis in for Tongo to have a little bit more defensive security.
“But it didn’t work.
“We are in this together but I have the responsibility – I pick the team and the players and do what I think is right.
“I have obviously got it very wrong over the last two games.

Soccer - Wolverhampton Wanderers Team Photo call 2012 - 2013 Season

Wolves player Kevin Foley is also far from happy with the team’s recent performances, claiming that the effort from everyone in their squad needs to improve against us tomorrow.

“When things aren’t going the way they should be the least we should give is hard work and I don’t think we did that through the team against Ipswich.
“You are not always going to have your best days and Saturday certainly wasn’t one of those but I put it down to not working hard as a team.
“If there are misplaced passes than fair enough but if you are not willing to track back and help each other then it’s only going to end in one result.”

Foley

A fake Tom Soares twitter account set the Arsenal fans tongues wagging last night when he wished Wilf well at Arsenal. It seems many of their fans had never heard of Tom and as a result, assumed it was a done deal. Those poor, success starved souls…

Tom Soares came through Crystal Palace’s youth system overlapping with Zaha for one year in the youth team before Soares moved to the first team in 2003 and he remained at the club until 2008.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Crystal Palace’s Zaha for a few months now and while it seemed as if Palace would try to hold on to the player in order to secure promotion experts widely speculated that both a strong bid and a request from the player to leave would see him allowed to go.

Soares

The Daily Mail, in direct contrast to the above rumour have stated it’s United who are chiefly interested. Having an £8 million bid turned down. Unofficially, of course, the madness of the window is truly upon us.

Crystal Palace will reject Manchester United’s opening offer of £8million for star winger Wilfried Zaha.

The 20-year-old is keen to move to the Premier League in January with United and Arsenal involved in a straight fight for his signature.

Palace chairman Steve Parish insists Zaha will not leave for less than £20m but it is believed a bid of half that will test the Championship club’s stance.

"So you're saying £8 million isn't enough?!"

“So you’re saying £8 million isn’t enough?!”

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The Daily Round-Up: Will Wilf Stay Or Will He Go?

The big talking point this afternoon, is obviously Wilfried Zaha’s interview in The Mail On Sunday. I can’t pretend I’m surprised to see it, and the phrases used within the article look every inch a “Come and get me.” plea, which when you look at its timing, roughly 24 hours before the transfer window opens, demonstrates the motive behind the interview perfectly.

It’s been discussed time and again since he made his England debut, but the simple fact remains, that Wilf, for whatever reason, hasn’t been his all-conquering self since he returned. Whether that’s because his head was turned whilst away with the likes of Gerrard and Sterling, we’ll never know, but it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility to suggest he was a tad starstruck whilst training with the people he’d grown up watching on TV.

The quote most have pounced upon, relates to him being open to a move in January, should the club agree a deal, which is hardly a surprise. We all knew, that unless we got into the Premier League by the end of this season, he was going to be moving on, and with the squad creaking under the weight of injuries and suspensions in recent weeks, it’s becoming obvious that we need reinforcements if we are going to be looking towards a serious promotion push.

For me, whilst I love what Zaha brings to the team, we will benefit more from pocketing the fee of around £12 million and using it strengthen the squad in the areas that need the most urgent attention. Albert Adomah have been mentioned as a possible replacement for Wilf, and I’d have no problem with that whatsoever.

With Adomah likely to cost around £2 million, I see no reason why roughly £2-3 million used to bring in a quality back-up or strike partner for Murray, as well as a bit more depth in defence, wouldn’t see us looking better than we do at the moment.

The owners would be well within their rights to use around £7 million to boost the club’s finances, it is a business when all is said and done, but the fact remains, that Wilf leaving in January allows us to strengthen and bank a large amount without seeing it damage the squad as a whole.

Were we to have still been challenging in the top two, I would feel very different, but Bolasie’s arrival has demonstrated how many top players are available at competitive prices. Obviously, nothing has been decided yet, and it may well transpire that Zaha is still our player when the window closes, but if he is to move on to the bright lights of the Premier League without us, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

Whatever happens, it remains almost certain that he will be in the squad on New Year’s Day against Wolves so for the time being, it’s in everyone’s best interests to put doubt and speculation to one side, and concentrate our support on the team as a whole, with or without him.

Here’s today’s round-up.

Enjoy.

All the news from SE25 in the last 24 hours

The Mail On Sunday piece is here, I’m not too sure about Wilf’s jumper…

But far from being intimidated if Palace get an offer they cannot refuse in January from Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or Andre Villas-Boas, Zaha would relish the challenge, fuelled by a desire to join his friends and England team-mates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling in the big time.
‘I’m not a teenager any more,’ he says firmly. ‘I’ve played more than 100 first-team games and this year is crucial to develop my football career. I want to establish myself in the Premier League and in international football.
‘I’ve played a lot in the Championship so having that new challenge in the Premier League, where everyone wants to be, would be great. To be honest, if I had the chance in January and Palace agreed, it’s something I’d want to go for.’

Zaha Celebrating

The full match report from yesterday’s game is up on the official site. Despite Glenn taking his tally for the season to 22 goals, we could only manage a point.

After two morning pitch inspections this match at the City Ground was given the go ahead as Alex McLeish took charge of his first game in charge of Nottingham Forest. Ian Holloway made one change from the Boxing Day defeat at Cardiff as Andre Moritz came in for Owen Garvan.

On nine minutes Palace had the perfect start as some good play in the middle saw the ball played wide to Dean Moxey and his cross from the left was converted by Glenn Murray from close range to give the visitors the early advantage.

Murray Waving

Ian Holloway’s comments on the game as a whole give the impression that he was relatively pleased with our performance. It’s just those last minute goals causing issues…

“I thought for 75% of the game we were a very good side and the lads are gutted because, like me, they feel we could have won the game, the lads are getting used to the way I want them to play and if we keep playing like we did for long periods of this game we will do very well.

“Today we got ourselves into a situation to win the match and we’ve ended up with one point instead of three – and that’s frustrating.”

Holloway gloves

It seems Ollie is growing increasingly tired of the constant media circus surrounding Wilf, speaking at length about it last night.

“If and when someone rings up, I’d love to tell you personally. I might do. Wouldn’t that be nice? For us to get a phonecall about Wilfried Zaha? And then I could ring you lot and say actually somebody does want to buy him. Rather than us talking about someone who is doing very well. What’s wrong with that?
“Playing for England. So what? It’s four minutes. I don’t want to sound funny but I’m more concerned about us working with him and getting him playing how he was a couple of weeks ago. That’s all I worry about. And talking about him when he might not have had his best game, is not particularly correct in my opinion.”

Zaha running

Five Year Plan are looking back at the year that was 2012. Here’s their run-down of the top 10 “moments” from the last 12 months.

4. “We’re top of the league, we’re top of the league, we’re Crystal Palace, we’re top of the league”

Just 66 days since Palace were propping up the Championship with not a single point to their name they were top following a 5-0 hammering of an Ipswich side for whom Damien Delaney was surplus to requirements. Aided by three enalties in 10 minutes, a second Glenn Murray hat-trick of the season and a first Palace goal by Yannick Bolaise (more on him later) Palace took top spot after Cardiff lost to the Clowns.

This was Ian Holloway’s first game in charge of the team and he remarked afterwards that he thought “he’d won the lottery without buying a ticket” and so did every single Palace fan!

holloway 5

They’ve also compiled their top 10 goals of the year. Enjoy.

9. Murray v Reading

This goal secured a draw for Palace in that game that Reading secure promotion back in April, a well-controlled volley from Muzza.

Five Year Plan

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