Inside Croydon’s tame Eagle, GOLDIE, has got its feathers ruffled: it really doesn’t fancy flying away from its Selhurst Park nest
It is not a secret in football that on average, a side will pick up more points at home than away. Sure, some teams win away from home, they might nick scrappy points or, on rare occasions, turn up and give the hosts a right good hiding.
But if your club happen to be midtable or worse, commonsense dictates that more fruitful awaydays are rare, and that your journey home will be serenaded by the ever so popular “You’ve come a long way for nothing…”
This chant has been heard by Palace fans far too often this season. Generally speaking, Palace supporters are a fairly reasonable lot. We don’t expect to be lavished in gifts from the footballing gods. In my experience, the fans’ only real requirement for a Crystal Palace player is to pull the shirt on and give 100 per cent while they are on that pitch, be it at Selhurst Park or anywhere else.
This season has seen Palace’s die-hard fans travel to 18 different league grounds thus far, returning to SE25 with a grand total of xis points, from a solitary win at Norwich, a point at Cardiff, a point at Bristol City and a point at Watford. Interestingly, all of these games have been evening kick-offs. Which all means that Palace have lost every single Saturday away game this season.
With this rather depressing piece of information in mind, a quick look at the league table (as if we need reminding) sees Palace placed just above the relegation zone. While there’s a four-point gap over Scunthorpe, they have a game in hand.
The league table, as they say doesn’t lie, and I am not about to start bemoaning our luck, the rub of the green or start questioning any dodgy decisions (Brammall Lane aside). If a team fails to pick up a single point on any Saturday afternoon when away from home, you can be pretty sure which half of the table you’re gonna be in.
This horrific run is a common talking point. Fans have had 18 different case studies to work with this season, under two separate regimes. The consensus is that the performances are now more robust, and we have made it harder for teams to hurt us. Conversely, under Freedman, we have scored just twice in five matches away from home, indicating the most significant improvement is that we lose by less. Without meaning to be disrespectful to the following clubs, losing 5-0 at Derby, 4-3 at Preston and 3-0 at Scunthorpe smacks of sheer desperation.
This Saturday we travel to pacesetters QPR. Silly as it sounds, this game strikes me as a glorious opportunity. I may be drunk with optimism, or just a fool with red and blue tinted glasses on, but I believe at Loftus Road we may cause an upset and finally break this pathetic away-day hoodoo.
I attribute this illogical belief to the fact that on Tuesday night we managed to secure a somewhat unexpected victory at home to high-flying Cardiff. Many a fan would have come away happy with a point. However, KG’s rather fortuitous goal late on secured a massive three points and perhaps gives Freedman an opportunity to be more cavalier on Saturday.
Last season proved that fortune favours the brave and with last night’s win fresh in the mind, perhaps Saturday will see us continue with a 4-4-2 formation and have a proper go.
Of course, it would be easy to go defensive again; try and restrict Taarabt et al and nick a point, but most who have tried that this season have failed. Once again, the travelling army has sold out the away end, the support will be massive and given Mr Warnock’s decision to leave us in our hour of need, not one fan would oppose a “let’s get stuck in and take the game to ‘em” attitude.
Picking up something this Saturday, indeed any Saturday, would massively help our cause. I must be honest, if we were to go the whole season without getting anything from a Saturday away match, we could have very little complaints about playing League One football. The prospect of us swapping places the mob on the south coast doesn’t bear thinking about.