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Pulis needs to freshen things up at Crystal Palace
2:42pm Wednesday 26th March 2014 in Sport
Crystal Palace columnist WILL TAYLOR feels now is the right time for Tony Pulis to give some of the club’s youngsters a chance to impress and help end the current goals shortage.
The phrase ‘football is a funny old game’ will rarely be uttered by a Palace fan.
In fact, the process of supporting the Red 'n' Blue army often feels like a barrage of body blows delivered by a heavyweight boxer.
Sure we have enjoyed droplets of success, but it always seems to resemble the brief respite between more rounds of relentless pummelling.
In my mind, football is a cruel-yet-seductive mistress intent on defying all logic and reason just when you feel like you’ve developed a mutual understanding.
That is certainly how I felt after 93 - plus a bit more! - minutes at St James’ Park on Saturday.
After struggling through a painfully defensive stalemate against Sunderland, the Eagles crossed over to Tyneside harbouring a completely different mindset.
Instead of digging deep into our trenches, we looked to deploy a clinical counter-attack against a Newcastle side stewing in mid-table, surrounded by disgruntled fans and a stand-in manager.
And there was a promising array of clearcut chances.
Cameron Jerome flashed a header wide, Kagisho Dikgacoi spurned another one-on-one and Yannick Bolasie clipped the bar.
But deep into stoppage time, moments after missing an open goal, Papiss Cisse popped up unmarked to flick the ball past Julian Speroni.
Once again Palace were denied a point their performance probably deserved.
The honeymoon period is definitely over with Tony Pulis, replaced with the mundane and predictable routine as we struggle to succeed within our own limitations.
It’s very easy to lament the fact we lack the quality to convert chances, but I strongly believe Pulis lacks the capability to inspire confidence in his frontline.
All of our attacking players are currently suffering from tunnel vision, trapped under the belief that the team’s goal-scoring burden is theirs to carry alone.
Jerome exhibited this perfectly in the first half when presented with a rare three-on-two counter-attack.
Instead of choosing to slip in one of two supporting cast members, he bumbled a mis-hit shot into a nearby defender and the chance was gone.
Tom Ince, Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie are also starting to suffer as Palace go lengthy periods in games without possession.
When the ball does finally land at their feet, panic ensues, before hacking wildly at their shots or trying to bundle their way through a maze of defenders.
Marouane Chamakh’s absence continues to prove detrimental, with many having previously undervalued his ability to link-up play between midfield and attack.
The Moroccan is far from prolific but is it any surprise we’ve failed to score a goal in open play since his injury?
In stark contrast this Saturday’s opponents Chelsea need no help finding the back of net, having brutally smashed Arsenal for six last weekend.
Pulis will inevitably erect to his no-nonsense barricade against Chelsea and while I have no problem with this, perhaps it’s time to reshuffle our stuttering starting XI.
With a must-win game against Cardiff on the horizon, why not give the industrious and hungry Stuart O’Keefe another chance to impress?
I’m sure Palace fans will have already seen the stunning goals scored by starlets Jonny Williams and Jose Campana at their loan clubs recently.
Now is the perfect time for Pulis to utilise the youthful exuberance at his disposal in a bid to reinvigorate the club, as it’s done so many times in the past.
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