Palace blog: Positivity the key for Eagles
Positivity is certainly not a word that could have been associated with Crystal Palace over the past two seasons. Administration, relegation battles and four different managers all spelt doom and gloom rather than hope and expectation. Perhaps it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: as the worry and negativity spread through the fans and players, the results too became negative.
Flash forward to 2012 and the cloud of negativity over the club has been replaced with a new wave of optimism. A Carling Cup Semi-Final, – albeit ill-fated – away victories against the club’s two main rivals, and an altogether more comfortable league campaign have created a muted sense of belief that had been all too lacking in recent years.
That word belief does certainly seem to be the secret behind Palace’s season so far. Even since the heartbreaking penalty defeat against Cardiff in the aforementioned semi-final, the players have exuded a confidence that suggests that the season may not yet be dead. Results may have been touch and go – prior to Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Watford, the Eagles had not won in 2012 – but on three separate occasions players had gone on record and stated their intention to continue pressing for a playoff place.
It would be all too easy to simply settle for mid-table. After all, such a finish is a fine improvement on the previous two seasons and provides a platform to build and push on in seasons to come. However, resting on our laurels could easily see us drop down the league, as just a few losses in a row can greatly change the look of the league table. Sitting 15 points clear of relegation and eight points from the playoffs would suggest to any neutral that the season is over, but convincing the players of that would appear to be a difficult task.
Mile Jedinak has stated that he is still aiming for the playoffs, Paddy McCarthy made clear that the disappointment of defeat in Cardiff would not cause their heads to drop, and Paul McShane had warned that a big victory was only just around the corner. If Jedinak’s psychic powers are as strong as McShane’s then the playoffs are beckoning.
This is why the positive attitude of the players is so important. While it may turn out that the playoffs are beyond us, energy and passion will remain high simply because the players still have them in their sight. It is no surprise that teams with little to play for as the season wears on begin to drop off in form. Positivity can prevent us doing just that. With the players still hungry for that success we will continue to approach games such as Saturday’s trip to West Ham with a sense that we might just be able to get a result. If our players had already resigned themselves to a mid-table finish, such a belief would be long since gone.
It has been suggested that the defensive tactics of Freedman could be holding the club back from pressing for the playoffs, but such a view is short sighted. With the club now seemingly safe from relegation as a result of our mean defence so far this season, the players have begun to break free from their shackles, racking up 43 shots in their last three games. These are not the signs of a team who have given up hope or accepted their fate as sealed, these are the signs of a team wanting to push on and climb the table.
This Saturday’s game against West Ham provides a chance to get yet more confidence flowing through the players. The return of Jonny Williams – described by Peter Ramage as ‘the happiest lad in the world’ – will feel like a new signing. Chris Martin, Wilfried Zaha and Jermain Easter are beginning to look like a lethal front three. All the signs are positive, and if the players and fans alike can maintain that air of optimism, then a late surge up the Championship table is certainly within their grasp.
In this section
- Brentford's injury-time heartbreak sends them into the play-off lottery
- I'll be wearing the cricket whites of Twickenham when Brentford take on Doncaster, but there is a reason
- Palace sitting comfortably
- Eagles still in period of transition
- Bees serve up a sticky treat
- Chicken Balti pasty brightens the Hereford gloom
- Here we go, here we go, here we go
- There's something about Donaldson
- Take my breath away
- It's a jolly holiday for Uwe