Even the shock of striker Christian Benteke scoring on Saturday – albeit because Everton’s England keeper had a bit of a ‘mare – is not enough to disguise the growing unease being felt by Crystal Palace fans.
On the face of it, there ought not be too much to worry about. The 3-1 defeat at Goodison Park leaves Palace still 14th in the Premier League and a seemingly comfortable six points clear of the relegation zone.
But closer inspection of matters on the pitch and behind the scenes at Selhurst suggest there ought to be real concern over the club’s chances of extending its record run in the Premier League into an eighth season.
Without a win in any competition in 2020 and with the league’s worst goal-scoring record, Palace failed to address in any significant fashion the squad’s evident short-comings during the January transfer window. Meanwhile, the club’s American co-owners are still looking to sell up and a £100million new stand which was supposed to begin construction in 2018 remains a pipe-dream.
And without any succession strategy, the club is struggling to reach agreement on a contract extension with a 72-year-old manager whose touchline indecision had been a noted shortcoming long before he returned to his boyhood club in September 2017, apparently then as a short-term stop-gap.
Palace’s were as high as fifth in the Premier League on November 1. They have been plummeting towards the Championship ever since.
The Eagles’ last win was on Boxing Day, and asked what he might do to turn things around, Roy Hodgson appears increasingly devoid of clear answers. Being frustrated by the board’s transfer policy won’t have helped his outlook.
Now, even some of the most loyal supporters have been sending out distress signals.
The Eagles Beak, edited by Jay Crame, is one of Palace’s strong hand of independent fanzines, and in the wake of the defeat at Everton, they flagged up many of the concerns: “It’s the lack of actual news about anything is frustrating for fans,” they wrote on Twitter this morning.
“We have no idea why things are silent and can only presume things are going on behind the scenes, but with the chairman tweeting only when we have a good win, it does not help.”
In a lengthy social media thread, they expanded on the worrisome situation.
“The gang here at TEB are a patient bunch but the apathy towards the club this season has come to a head after a run of transfer windows that has seen aged additions and gaps in what is a talented squad of players.
“With rumours that the American owners want out…”, American sports magnates Joshua Harris and David Blitzer have been seeking takers for their shares in the club, without success, since 2018, “… no updates whatsoever on the proposed regeneration of Selhurst Park, tactics that have led to frustrating results in a season that could have been something different have all contributed.
“We know as well as anyone that nothing is permanent in football. We are in no way suggesting a change of management, but this up and coming break has to be used productively. Something different is needed to break this run to ensure we avoid being dragged into trouble.
“A record number of seasons in the top division for the club is not to be sniffed at. We understand fans frustrations that the club has not seemed better for it, but football is a fickle game. There is not a chance you will see us say we want to return to the Championship.
“We want our club to be playing at the top level for years to come. Yes, that will come under threat as we are just one of those clubs, one of those 14 that will never have the safety of the top six positions.
“Let’s face it, anything could happen. Every team wants Premier League football and we have it. Let’s not take it for granted and turn into those seemingly entitled fans. Yes, we all think we could do better, but isn’t it why we support the Palace?
“It has always been a rollercoaster and always will be, it’s part of the (sick) enjoyment of it. Taking the lows make the highs so much better.
“We are a glass-half-full kind of fan group and always will be, you never know what tomorrow brings. Just be Palace.”
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