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Crystal Palace are now the first club in English football league history to lose their opening seven matches of the season without scoring a single goal.

For a club that has been in and out of the Premier League and FA Cup finalists twice, in 1990 and 2016, it’s not a record anyone would have predicted. In 1990–91, Palace challenged for the English league title, eventually finishing in third place in the top tier, their highest ever league position.

Palace’s home, Selhurst Park Stadium, can be spotted from the train line as you travel from Brighton to London through East Croydon. Interestingly, unlike most London clubs their rivals are not nearby in London, but are located some 60 miles away on the South Coast in Brighton. Ironically, it was the newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion fans who received plenty of ‘stick’ from the Palace faithful at the start of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.

Yet surprisingly to some, seven weeks in, it isn’t any of the promoted clubs who are propping up the table, but instead it’s Crystal Palace. Astonishingly, the Eagles have failed to find the back of the net, despite playing a total of 630 minutes of football.

What’s going wrong?

Last season, with top-flight survival all but assured by earlier results, Palace drifted listlessly towards a 14th-placed finish - and then Sam Allardyce resigned.

Frank De Boer - the club's eighth manager in seven years after George Burley, Dougie Freedman, Ian Holloway, Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew and Allardyce - inherited a team that had lost four of their final five games of the 2016-17 season, failing to score in each defeat. He was sacked just five weeks into the new season after Crystal Palace failed to win a game in the first four weeks of this season.  

Prior to joining Palace, De Boer had a successful spell in his first managerial position at Ajax. He was sacked after only 85 days in charge of the Italian giants, Inter Milan, having suffered seven defeats from 14 games in all competitions.

Maybe Crystal Palace's chairman, Steve Parish, wanted to evolve the club further this year and play a more attractive style of football, but arguably, you need the right type of players to be able to do that - a point that Frank's twin, Ronald De Boer makes in this report

Is Roy Hodgson the man to keep Palace in the Premier League?

Newly appointed coach Roy Hodgson said his side will have to “run their backsides off” to avoid relegation in his latest post-match-interview after losing 4-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Hodgson went on to state “... on the upside, teams don’t get relegated in October”.

West Bromwich Albion was Hodgson’s last team in club management before he left to become England manager in 2012. His short but sweet spell in charge at the Hawthorns perhaps provides a reasonable indication for what Eagles fans can expect.

West Brom turned to Hodgson because he was seen as a safe pair of hands who could give a struggling team some direction. He’s known to be hands-on and often described as a coach that is good at getting players to understand their specific roles within the team.

West Brom picked up 20 points from 12 games under Hodgson in his first season in charge, climbing from 17th to 11th. The following year they finished 10th.

Roy’s start as Palace manager hasn’t been easy with two successive challenging away fixtures against giants Manchester City and Manchester United playing host to the Eagles. Unsurprisingly, both matches produced plenty of goals for the home sides with City scoring five and United scoring four. Palace were unable to find the back of the net in either game.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much easier for Roy either. Next up after the international break, on October 15th, Palace play host to last season’s champions, Chelsea. At this stage, Roy is fairing no better than his predecessor De Boer but until Palace have a run of games against some of the lesser teams, it’s a little hard to predict how Hodgson will perform.

Positively, Roy has a chance to prove himself again with Palace, which might help some fans forget about what happened with England last summer.

What’s next?

After Chelsea at home next week, Palace face newly promoted Newcastle United away at St. James Park and then come back to Selhurst Park to host West Ham on October 28th.

If I was a betting person, I’d say it would be a fairly safe to assume that by the end of October, the Palace 'Goals For' column will display a number above zero. The looming return of their star striker, Wilfred Zaha, will also give a much-needed boost to their attacking prowess.

Hopefully, Palace will manage to secure their first win during October which will see players' confidence and self-belief sky rocket (as it must be at an all-time low now). Perhaps the energy gained from their first win will be the catalyst for Roy and the players to start afresh - and that may just be enough to keep Palace afloat.

There’s plenty of football left, and the one positive I can think of is that they have time on their side.

As a minimum, Palace fans will be hoping they are at least able to supercede Derby County’s abysmal Premier League record of only 11 points which they achieved in 2007-08 when they won one, drew eight and lost 29 games.


Categories: Opinion | Premier League

crystal palace, frank de boer, roy hodgson, wilfred zaha, premier league

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