Spyin' Kop: Crystal Palace away

Posted by Rushian on October 24, 2005, 08:40:28 PM

After the disappointing result against Fulham the Reds make a quick return to London to take on Crystal Palace in the third round of the Carling Cup. We've nipped over to our good mates at Holmesdale.net to get an Eagle-eyed view of the game.

How has the season been shaping up for Palace?
 
Mike: A poor start (losing at home to Luton) and poor performances saw us stuck in the bottom half. A recent string of good results has catapulted us up to 5th. The performances still lack conviction and an injury to Andy Johnson has highlighted a lack of strength in depth.

Chris: Poorly at first, but having bought Clinton Morrison back from Birmingham, we're up in the play-offs.

Scott: Apart from the Brighton result (not surprising as Palace normally shy away in a derby match), things have been going better.

What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

Mike: I think the play offs are our best hope of getting back up with the big boys. It's still early days and Reading and Sheff Utd could both suffer a bad patch. Before the opening day of the season I was torn between automatic promotion, as the younger players had experienced a taste of the Premiership, and mid-table obscurity with AJ and co being sold off (as a Palace fan it's best to expect the worst. Sometimes we're pleasantly surprised - but not often!)

Chris: I think second place. I still think second place.

Scott: I knew we needed to hit the ground running, which we didn't mainly due to Dowie tinkering around with the side which was the same as at start of last season. I think we have lost too much ground on Reading and Sheffield Utd, they will have a bad run but other sides would need to keep winning, a tough ask.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Mike: AJ's injury has highlighted what an important player he is. A lot of media attention has tried to focus on his apparent ease of hitting the deck to win a penalty. A look at the replays show in most cases he was clean through and about to score. He makes a tremendous amount of space for himself and is a tireless performer. He makes the midfield look better than they are as any pass over the top has him scampering after it and usually getting there first. Try the same thing with Dougie Freedman and he'll more than likely stand with his hands on his hips with a "I'm not f***ing chasing that" look on his face.

Chris: Clinton Morrison. Given that AJ (Andy Johnson) seems to be injury prone at the moment, Morrison is crucial to us winning.

Scott: At the moment, probably Morrison as he seems to be involved in everything, though Marco Reich has been influential recently.

Your worst player(s)?

Mike: We've got a few youngsters who get a lot of unfair criticism - Gary Borrowdale at left back has had a hard time trying to fill the injured Danny Granville's boots. Ben Watson and Tom Soares in midfield have replaced the experienced Aki Riihilahti and Michael Hughes and have on occasion struggled. But the real "Is he any good or a complete drongo" award must go to Wayne Andrews. A pacey striker signed from Colchester who's commitment cannot be questioned but put him in front of a barn door with a 4-stringed acoustic instrument and it's doubtful if he'll hit it. The jury's out but I like him - most fans can forgive a lack of skill if the effort's there. I hope he blasts a hat-trick someday soon and his rise from cult hero to legend will be complete.

Chris: Wayne Andrews. A 'striker' we signed from Colchester United on deadline day of last summer (2004). At his previous clubs he had a pretty good record. He is still yet to score for Palace, but when he does ...

Scott: Take your pick from Wayne Andrews (a striker who can't score), Mikele Leigertwood (a defender who can't defend) or Julian Speroni (a keeper that can't catch).

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs? For instance something that happened to you that day, a great goal or a decision you disagreed with? Prizes are given for not mentioning the 4-3 win in 1990.

Mike: I'm not in this for the prizes. That 4-3 victory will stay with me forever - not too long after the 9-0 drubbing and such underdogs we turned up with little expectation. I still well up when I see the goals now. You have to realise while you were finishing in the top half of the old Division 1 year after year we were a truly awful team just 5 years before this game. The average crowd was 6,000 to 7,000 and we had players who, even now, are laughed at in pubs across South London. To go from that to an FA Cup Final was the stuff of dreams. The fact that it was one of the games of the decade for a neutral didn't hurt either. I remember at the end just standing there screaming and hugging strangers. I don't mean this in a bad way, but it's probably hard for your supporters to understand the euphoria - our first ever FA Cup Final when the competition still meant something - I'm almost in tears now!
 
Chris: The 4-3, of course, is first ... then there is the Carling Cup Semi-Final victory, 2-1 (shame you won 5-0 at Anfield). 1-2 to us at Anfield in the FA Cup in 2003 and 1-0 at Selhurst in April.

Scott: I suppose the Alan Smith team which won 2-1 in the League Cup semi-final. The worst manager Palace have ever had in my opinion, who got a fantastic result but then screwed it right up from the start of the return leg. Typical.

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

Mike: There are quite a few youngsters but as some of them have been in the first team for a few season it's sometimes easy to forget how young they are. Tom Soares and Ben Watson are now the regular midfield pairing yet they are both under 21. Gary Borrowdale is only 20 but has played a number of games at left back. Recently a few youngsters have been tried out in the Carling Cup - Aaron Fray, Ryan Hall and Lewis Grabban have all performed well.

Chris: None that will be playing.

Scott: I don't think he's going to play but I would have said Jobi McNuff. People may say Tom Soares but he's totally overrated and he will go missing in the match.

Simon Jordan is making a name for himself as an outspoken commentator on the game. How is your chairman viewed by Palace fans?

Mike: Overall he's a hero - he put the money in to get us out of administration. There have been times when you read what's he's said and you think "Oh Christ, shut up ... please" but most fans support his views on blood-sucking agents and the FA and Football League. He used to have a two page column in the programme - in the end the print was tiny as he had so much to say. I think they were going to give out a magnifying glass with every issue. This season he's generally been quieter and has also penned some excellent articles in the Observer. Overall, Palace Hero, but sometimes he should wait for a pat on the back rather than go looking for it.

Chris: He's a legend! He's controversial because he says what he thinks, rather than bottling it.

Scott: I quite like him now, as he stands up for what he believes in, even if it costs us.

Do you have a favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

Mike: We seem to be down to 3 or 4 regular songs - a lot of my favourites seem to have died out. Expect to hear "Iain Dowie's Red and Blue Army" and "Oh South London is wonderful - it's full of tits, fanny and Palace, oh South London is wonderful" but not much else. We don't even sing "Eagles" much lately - see atmosphere question.

Chris: "The Famous Alan Mullery". Ask someone else - I haven't got 5 hours to explain it!

Scott: I'm not part of singing brigade. Perhaps, I'm what you'd call a thinking man's supporter.

What sort of line-up will Iain Dowie put out against us?

Mike: Unfortunately the Carling Cup has become a worthless trophy other than a place in Europe. But with the European competitions becoming less supported even that carrot has lost its charm. I expect to see mostly fringe players - the reserve team goalie, a few from the subs bench and a few youngsters. Sad, especially considering the price of the tickets ...

Chris: I'm kind of hoping it'll be our reserves, but knowing Palace, it won't be ...

Scott: Hopefully, without being disrespectful, a reserve side. We can't afford for any main players to get injured, whilst it looks like Liverpool will put out a strong side after the disappointing result on Saturday.

Can anyone explain Bob "The Cat" Bevan?

Mike: There's more about him here:

http://www.bobthecatbevan.co.uk/bob.html

A famous after dinner speaker and a vice-president at Palace. I've seen his name in the programmes over the years but I'm probably as in the dark as you are.

Chris: The after-dinner speaker? No.

Scott: Can't explain him, but I think he can be funny. There seems to be a lot of comedians following Palace - Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard, Sean Hughes, Neil Morrissey.

How do you expect Palace and Liverpool to finish in their respective leagues?

Mike: Probably around the same position - top 6. You seem to flirt with the final Champions League spot every season and this year should be the same.

Chris: Palace - play-offs or above. Liverpool - 7th at best.

Scott: Palace - 4th. Liverpool - not sure, at best I think 4th depending on whether you can put together a team in the league which can score consistently.

What's the atmosphere like at Selhurst Park these days?

Mike: The home atmosphere has been the subject of much debate lately. Like most clubs it seems to be dying. We're always a good bunch away from home whatever the score, but like most sides the seating etc has killed off a lot of the match day atmosphere. This season has been particularly poor. The annoying thing is the away fans are in the section with the best acoustics so often drown out the Holmesdale. Recently a few singers have moved to the back of the Arthur Waite and are a good bunch - but overall pretty poor so far.

Chris: Bloody dreadful!

Scott: I still think there is an air of arrogance about being in the Championship. Some fans seems to be too optimistic. If the players don't work hard then sides like Brighton will get a result. Players can't just turn up and expect to win. Fitz Hall has been like that.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Mike: Last season Cisse came on a sub and ripped us apart. Gerrard was a class apart but didn't seem to have anyone on the same wavelength. I don't expect to see many of the first team so not really fearing anyone.

Chris: Steven Gerrard.

Scott: Gerrard if he plays.

Is the rivalry with "The Seaweed" still as strong?

Mike: Oh Yes! Still our most hated rivals. Millwall are despised but the Brighton rivalry is in our blood. We lost 0-1 to them last week which has only stoked it up further. The first fixture we look for and the team we sing most songs about. Long may it continue!

Chris: As ever! There was violence before and after the game last Tuesday.

Scott: The fighting last Tuesday would suggest so.

What are your feelings on the new 'Spanish flavour' Liverpool. Senor 'Rafa' Benitez and the latin recruits?

Mike: I'm surprised you're not doing better in the league and I am a bit worried Rafa's favouritism of the Spanish recruits may not be best for Liverpool. When I saw some of the signings - Morientes etc I thought "great player should rip the Premiership apart" but you seem to be underachieving. Rafa seems a nice guy but possibly lacks the necessary fire in his belly. A little like Sven for England (only a little before you start throwing things!) I'm not sure how he's perceived on Merseyside but I can see the fans losing faith as another season goes by and the Glory Days become more of a distant memory. Obviously the European Cup bought him time - but it's all about the league now isn't it?

Chris: You are kind of like the mid-to-late 90s Chelsea (the whole squad is Italian) and the 2000-present Arsenal (the whole squad is French).

Scott: Reina looks solid, Alosno is probably the best buy, Garcia only seems to turn it on in Europe, Morientes doesn't look adapatable to the Premier League. Josemi seems a bit run of the mill, I would always pick Finnan ahead of him.

On another issue. Crouch was a bad buy for reason that he can't handle pressure. When he moved from QPR to Portsmouth for 1 million he scored goals but when he went to Aston Villa for 5 million he failed to be consistent, then a cut price move to Southampton and he scores goals again. He can't handle the price tag.

Palace fans have always come across as some of the best-humoured we've met on our travels. Why the historically cheery outlook?

Mike: I think we'd have jumped off bridges otherwise. We expect the worst so have developed the 'Gallows Humour'. When our rivalry with Brighton was at its worst we appointed their former manager Alan Mullery as boss; there's been administration; having Clowntown and Wimbledon both as squatters; constant rumours of ground moves, mergers etc; the "Team of The Eighties" tag and the knowledge that every time we make it into the elite we shoot ourselves in the foot. If you can't laugh at that lot then you should go and support Chelsea.

Chris: Have you noticed how many comedians support Palace? You have to possess a good/sick sense of humour to support Palace!

Scott: It's never dull at Palace, there is always something going on. And if it's going well you can guarantee something will bring it crashing down.

Care to predict the score? Go on!

Mike: It depends on the team you put out. We're all non-plussed by it all - as most teams are. But I think it will be a terrible match which you'll win 2-0.

Chris: Liverpool will win 0-2, with goals in either half.

Scott: 3-0 Liverpool.

Thanks once again to Mike, Chris and Scott and everyone at Holmesdale.net for their help with Spyin' Kop.

© RAWK 2005

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