CRYSTAL Palace Five Year Plan fanzine editor and Advertiser columnist ROBERT SUTHERLAND reflects on the weekend defeat to West Ham - and urges the fans to remain upbeat...
WE PALACE fans are generally quite level-headed folk. We understand that there are troughs and peaks whenever it comes to supporting our club, we know that things are never plain sailing - it wouldn't be Palace if they were (and I wouldn't want it that way, anyway) - we have a reputation for getting behind our team and supporting the players to the hilt.
However, this summer has been tough. It has been tough because sides that we finished above (comfortably too) spent the summer recruiting quality players and now look like they could finish above us. A summer that should have seen the club move forward has instead seen us stuck in neutral. I can't and won't just blame Steve Parish and the board - there is clearly more to it, and Pulis deserves blame for the way his exit came at a crucial point of pre-season.
Losing three players like we did prior to Saturday's game made matters considerably worse. In Dann, Ledley and Puncheon, Palace have three Premier League quality players capable of raising the standard throughout the squad. And their omission meant we reverted to what looked like nothing more than a Championship side.
With that loss in quality came an inability to compete with West Ham, one of the many teams that strengthened during the summer. And so the frustration that had simmered among supporters reached boiling point on Saturday. With each West Ham short corner came an audible rise in frustration from our support. As the game drew on, Bannan's substitution was met with boos, and then O'Keefe's removal was met with ironic cheers.
We fans are better than that. I'll admit that Saturday made painful viewing, but our players can't help the situation they've found themselves in. If we think it's exhausting as supporters, imagine being right in the middle of it all.
While Saturday's game was a poor one, you can't say that they didn't try. It's just that they're missing the one component that made everything tick. It'll be a real challenge for Parish and co to find an adequate replacement - but let's make sure we supporters still do our bit, with the same positivity that we've become famous for. The Palace way.