Eagles still in period of transition

First published in Sport Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

"We are getting points each week - just not enough to close the gap." These were the words of Palace boss Dougie Freedman following his side’s 1-1 draw away at Coventry.

Such a diagnosis effectively confirms that the play-offs are out of reach, but at the same time succinctly demonstrates what the good work carried out by the Scot.

The performance against the Sky Blues was far from ideal. Having gone in front in the fourth minute courtesy of an Ambrose penalty, the Eagles were forced to battle for the remaining 86 minutes before ultimately conceding their lead.

Granted, the draw provided the 20th and 21st points of the season dropped from winning positions, a statistic which when viewed in isolation would suggest a team struggling near the bottom of the table.

However, viewed in context not only of this season but of the past two campaigns and such statistics begin to make more tolerable reading.

Let us take Tuesday’s result against Coventry as an example. Certainly it was disappointing to see a 1-0 lead slowly eroded over time against a team in the relegation zone.

However, without doubt the performance from the Sky Blues was one of their best of the season, and this was one of the Eagles’ worst, yet a point was still achieved.

In such situations last season, defeat would have been inevitable. After all, in order to drop points from winning positions you have to first be in a winning position. Not often was that the case away from home last season.

Freedman’s hard work and commitment to defensive discipline has seen Palace continue to pick up points week-in-week-out, even when perhaps there may have been more on offer with a greater deal of ruthlessness.

Therein lies the point though, if you’ll pardon the pun. Of course some fans are getting fed up with defensive displays, but this is – regardless of whether you wish to admit it – still a period of transition.

This season Freedman has presided over turning what would have been losses into draws at the very least.

Interestingly, it is some of Palace’s brighter performances that have seen them drop a great deal of those 21 points – Leeds away, West Ham at home, Blackpool away to name but a few.

What next season will see the team do is begin turning more draws into wins.

More attacking performances will produce greater results, but for now it has been about building a platform. The club needed a season of consolidation, of solidification. Next season, the Eagles can spread their wings and fly up the table.

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