Palace fan and online columnist for the Advertiser, Alisdair Kemp, submits his latest piece on mid-table mediocrity in the Premier League... SUNDAY'S afternoon's vapid display against Manchester City provided a disquieting insight into the realities of mid-table mediocrity. With safety sown up emphatically following a fabulous five-game winning streak, Palace fans could look forward to seeing out the final three matches uninhibited by pressure. Given the potential to decide the destination of the Premier League trophy in mouth-watering contests against Liverpool and City, optimism and jubilation were in the air in south London. However, any sort of carnival atmosphere celebrating our inspired turn-around under Tony Pulis was all but extinguished by an early goal from Edin Dzeko. From then on, the character and guile required to equalise against such a well-drilled yet free-flowing side were unlikely to be demonstrated by a team cruising towards the summer – regardless of what Pulis may assert in his press conferences. For all the talk pre-match of not easing off and maintaining the intensity in our performances, it would be fanciful to insist that focus and drive would not suffer when the carrot of mathematical safety has been voraciously devoured. And so we are faced with two more games that are of little consequence to ourselves, aside from the prospect of several hundred thousand pounds more into the club's coffers if we can climb into the top half of the table. Though not dead rubber as they can have quite a bearing at both ends of the league, matches such as these that hold little significance to Palace are of minimal interest to me. I counselled caution in a previous column about wanting to seal survival too early and subsequently enjoying the lifeless limp toward the 38th game normally reserved for those of a Stoke City persuasion. Southampton, Newcastle and Stoke have been safe from relegation for weeks, while also showing no inclination to challenge for European football. As a result, their seasons finished back in March – or even before. The effects of repeated uncompetitive end-of-season football make for worrying reading. With nothing to cheer for and achieve on Tyneside, fans' emotions have turned decidedly sour – and have homed in on manager Alan Pardew. The former Palace man could face losing his job for having the temerity to secure Premier League football for another season with such consummate ease and efficiency. Meanwhile in the Potteries, the once heralded Britannia Stadium atmosphere appears to have been somewhat muted quite simply through a lack of any real target outside the mundane realm of finance. Do we, as Palace fans, really want this? While it is unlikely we may even finish as high as 11th next season, the only room for improvement is to simply extend this meaningless procession of games after the clocks go forward. One cannot help but envy fans of the likes of Fulham, Sunderland and Norwich when watching a group of players that appeared mentally to be reclined on a scorching beach. Those fans' rollercoaster seasons continue to hurtle towards an undoubtedly thrilling climax while ours is lamentably back in the boarding area for next term.
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