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Early Palace goal at Chelsea would deepen Mourinho's gloom
3:11pm Tuesday 10th December 2013 in Sport
Marouane Chamakh scores his second goal in as many games to make it 2-0 against Cardiff. PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD.
OPTIMISM has been in short supply for our Eagles columnist WILL TAYLOR for most of this season but now he is full of belief after three wins from the last four - and even ponders if a positive result this weekend at Chelsea isn’t out of the question.
THERE are some figures in football who can only be understood, appreciated or even liked once they end up wearing your own club’s colours.
Robbie Savage was that infuriating player you would love to play with but hate to play against.
Nowadays we see this in the likes of Luis Suarez, Craig Bellamy and pantomime poet Joseph 'he's sliding in behind you' Barton.
The same can be said for managers, whose underhand tactics and bitter outbursts will only attract approval if they come out swinging from your corner.
I found myself inexplicably warming to Neil Warnock during his stint as Palace boss between 2007 and 2010, a man I had previously declared as football's answer to the dour, interfering Rigsby in Rising Damp.
In times of our impending financial crisis, it felt like we were fighting the good fight together, blossoming under the ‘us against the world’ mentality.
But the second he decided he could longer stomach the fight and jumped ship to the SS QPR, he was branded as Colin among supporters once more.
Tony Pulis certainly finds himself housed in this category, as a coach only truly celebrated in Stoke-on-Trent despite years of stabilised success.
I was terrified his arrival in SE25 would spark an unwelcome mutation, with players resorting to an aimless aerial bombardment from the first minute to the last.
Perhaps it is too early to tell, or I am too close to accurately judge, but in the opening fortnight of Pulis’ reign I am yet to see any negative or dishonourable traits.
In fact, last Saturday's convincing 2-0 victory over Cardiff was the product of the best performance Selhurst Park has seen this season.
There was a reinvigorated tenacity and confidence flowing through the team, optimised by Marouane Chamakh’s repeated trick of stealing possession before winning a free-kick with a flash of quick feet.
The direct balls were present, but hit with a sense of purpose and direction rather than lumped aggressively into orbit.
And despite the disruption caused by Dean Moxey’s first half injury, the defence rediscovered their resolute and unyielding stance which was last evident in the triumphant play-off campaign back in May.
Pulis has administered a widely prescribed shot in the arm, an injection of basic principles we desperately need to embrace in order to survive in this division.
It seems clear then this squad would prefer clear, basic instructions rather than the freedom to flex their creative muscle, which essentially left Ian Holloway flapping in the wind.
Back-to-back wins have propelled the club to the edge of the relegation zone, with only goal difference separating us from the salvation of 17th place.
Is it completely outrageous to suggest we might get something at Stamford Bridge this weekend?
Our recent fortunes are in distinct contrast to those at Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho has misplaced his gleeful arrogance and renowned charm as his team stumble their way towards a title challenge.
Their vast array of attacking talent seems reluctant to gel as they each take it in turn to shine, while the defence have conceded nine goals in their last five games, whereas Palace have conceded just one.
Based purely on recent form I would have no hesitation selecting Cameron Jerome over the gold-plated, yet goal-shy, trio of Torres, Eto'o and Ba.
Home advantage should inspire Chelsea to bounce back from their shock 3-2 Britannia defeat last weekend.
But an early goal, just like against Cardiff, might just allow our army of away fans to trample over Mourinho's murmurs of discontent.
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