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FAN VIEW: Crystal Palace's lame surrender to West Ham shows why Keith Millen isn't the man for the job

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ADVERTISER columnist and Crystal Palace fan ALISDAIR KEMP explains why the defeat to West Ham should rule Keith Millen out of the race for the manager's job at Selhurst Park...

Saturday's insipid display against a West Ham side whose own performance has since been vastly overstated, demonstrated – regrettably – why Keith Millen simply cannot step into the breach as manager.

I found myself on the morning of the game desperate for a first win of the season. However, this was not borne purely out of a desire for three valuable points; rather a keenness for Millen to force himself into consideration for the manager's job.

However, the eventual manner in which the team acquitted themselves against a team that last season would have posed few problems, was a three-pronged disappointment: tactically deficient, poor in use of substitutions and worst of all, lacking in spirit.

Regarding defensive errors, I'm not laying the blame firmly at Millen's feet. Conceding four goals in two games from set-pieces is outrageous and it would be churlish to suggest that the team has forgotten how to defend them in the fortnight since Tony Pulis departed.

As would it be to point the finger at Millen for the statuesque approach to defending the first goal or Joel Ward's inexplicable schoolboy error of showing Stewart Downing inside onto his stronger foot for the second goal?

However, the game was lost in the midfield. Due to presumably poor direction from the touchline, I sat immensely frustrated watching Mile Jedinak and Stuart O'Keefe mark open space; all the while leaving Mauro Zarate free between the lines. A simple man-marking job would have rectified this. For all the talk of the difference Joe Ledley would have made through the middle, the outcome would likely have been the same, with Zarate finding space left, right and centre, and our midfield being humiliated by simple passing triangles.

Aside from the bizarre 10-minute delay in making a substitution after West Ham's third goal, there seemed little logic in any of the changes. Swapping Jonny Williams for Barry Bannan was simply a like-for-like replacement; not what is needed when two goals down, while moving Fraizer Campbell out wide when Dwight Gayle was introduced demonstrated clear ignorance at Campbell's ineffectiveness in that role for Cardiff last season.

It was the lack of fight and desire, though, that hurt the most. Palace, if nothing else, always fights to the end. The lack of any sort of pressing or even covering space to shut off the angles seemed peculiar given all the talk of how fit the players would be this term. The body language of the players after West Ham's third goal was the final nail in Millen's coffin for me.

Shoulders slumped forward; heads down; gesticulating angrily to each other, they looked a beaten, wounded group. Where was the desire to sprint back to the centre circle and immediately right the plethora of wrongs?

We can forgive tactical errors on Millen's part as everyone makes mistakes. What cannot be tolerated, though, is an inability to motivate the squad. It is the most fundamental part of the job and, unfortunately for Millen, he fell at the first hurdle.

FAN VIEW: Crystal Palace's lame surrender to West Ham shows why Keith Millen isn't the man for the job


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