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Spurs game showed just how tough things will be for Eagles
5:05pm Tuesday 20th August 2013 in Sport
NEWS Shopper online has a new Crystal Palace columnist after the departing Sam Ross went Down Under to Oz just after his team won promotion – meet his replacement WILL TAYLOR.
I DON’T know whether to be angry, content or pleasantly surprised in the wake of Crystal Palace’s opening day 1-0 defeat against Spurs.
On the one hand, a defence that was destined to struggle coped perfectly well against an array of superior attacking talent.
But further up the field there was a startling lack of ideas, coupled with sequences of woeful passing and a worrying lack of movement.
Many have tipped Spurs for a top four finish this season, while Palace merely have their sights set on finishing fourth from bottom.
But the only thing which separated the two sides was an incredibly unfortunate penalty converted by a £26m striker.
Welcome to the cut-throat nature of prime-time football.
Preparations for life in the Premier League have certainly been littered with an unforeseen number of hurdles.
The club repeatedly finds itself at the back of a long queue when chasing transfer targets, while the constant interruption of medalling and often-fraudulent agents has seen Ian Holloway transform from quirky YouTube favourite into a figure of frustration.
Holloway has even had to point out his job title reads ‘football manager’ and not ‘comedian’, which is testament to the daunting challenge which lies ahead.
Despite the fact it would delight the neutrals, it’s clear this team will not play like the loveable-yet-ill-fated Blackpool side of 2010.
However, few could have anticipated such a stark contrast during the opening 45 minutes on Sunday.
A side which last year scored the most goals at home in the Championship were apparently forbidden from entering the opposition’s half, instead opting to suffocate Spurs with their rigid shape.
Palace were disciplined to a fault, crippled by nerves which saw them panic every time a promising opportunity presented itself.
Things did improve when Holloway made a typically adventurous triple substitution, which saw him throw every dice, ace and kitchen sink he had at his disposal.
Kevin Phillips' ageing legs sprung the offside trap on numerous occasions, while Jonny Williams continued to weave through midfield like a wizard on roller skates.
Even Maraoune Chamakh looked like an accomplished footballer with the ball at his feet, but perhaps only because I am comparing him with the impotent and immobile Aaron Wilbraham.
Holloway's starting line-up appeared to demonstrate he was willing to give our promotion heroes a deserved audition in the top flight, but I think it was also a cry for help in the direction of chairman Steve Parish.
An SOS signal that screamed reinforcements are desperately needed.
One area which has enjoyed a financial facelift is Selhurst Park - and they say you can't polish a turd.
The atmosphere created at this reinvigorated shack of dreams was as fierce as ever on Sunday and will be vital in our attempts to pick up points at home.
Palace face a sterner test next weekend at Stoke, even though Mark Hughes’ attempts to bring attacking football to the Britannia must be like trying to extract blood from a stone.
The Potters have been impervious at home in recent years and will feel confident they can pick up their first points of the season.
However, Palace will continue to fight both on the pitch and in the transfer market.
Darren Bent may have been vigorously scratched off the club’s shortlist, but just like the fixtures, you can be sure Holloway has 37 names remaining.
Jason Puncheon perhaps?
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