From a loftier perch than usual, GOLDIE looks ahead to the end of the month, and Palace’s League Cup quarter-final trip to Old Trafford, offering a flavour of the promised land of the Premiership
In 41 matches against Manchester United, Palace have won six, drawn nine, and lost 29.
The last time we were victorious over United was a 3-0 win at home in the 1990-1991 season, since then the best we have managed is three draws. Given that we nearly got relegated from the Championship last year as United were winning their 19th English league title, it is fair to say that we will not be the bookies’ favourites. In fact, Palace are rated at 14/1 to win the game, with United 1/4.
But the cup manifests a “you never know” attitude that those of travelling up will certainly cling on to. And despite the horrible record against United and the sheer gulf between the top sides, the fact remains that it will be 11 v 11 on the night, a football match, anything can happen, and sometimes on Cup night, remarkable things are witnessed. Many Palace fans will recall that cup run that saw us come so close to lifting a trophy; despite a courageous draw, we lost the replay.
Of course, the 1990 cup run is not the only element of nostalgia that surfaces when the matter of Palace v United is brought up. There was once a rather arrogant Frenchman, so good his country never wanted him, who liked practising his kung-fu in the middle of games. We all know what happened at Selhurst Park in 1995, which did little improve relations between the two sets of fans.
The 2011 cup draw also comes at a time when Palace have been performing excellently in the league, so the pessimist in me hopes that we don’t get turned over and it turns into a bad patch as we approach the January transfer window.
Perhaps it isn’t too ridiculous to be thinking about promotion or the play-offs already. I’m sure Southampton and West ham fans are. Sure, we have a young, inexperienced squad and came close to relegation two years running, but the situation emerged not out of footballing reasons, but behind the scenes meltdown that nearly cost far more.
For us fans, it is refreshing to be comfortable in the league, and be able to have the luxuries of giving the cup (even the fizzy beer cup) a good crack. One doesn’t envy the decisions Dougie will have to make as League Cup ever-presents such O’Keefe, Easter and Price will surely have a case to start at Old Trafford.
Increasingly Palace fans can be heard stating “In Dougie we trust”, and we certainly will on this one too. Whatever team he plays, whatever the outcome, Freedman and the boys are certainly having a great season and with a bit of luck, belief and a bit more luck, who knows what we could achieve this season? Even at Old Trafford.
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- Mark Goldberg: Small change for the owner who blew £40m (independent.co.uk)