The Hull game was a but disappointing, but I would say that the weather conditions destroyed the game, especially in the second half, so I wasn't all too worried. Forest way was a bit more of a worry as I read that we were outplayed in the first half. I did watch some of the second half via an internet feed, but it was not exactly terribly inspiring. We looked like we could have played all day (and all night) and still not threatened the Forest goal. The introduction of Ricardo Fuller did bring about a slight change of fortunes, but in all honesty this was late in the game when Forest were cruising as they had a two goal cushion.
The Palace game was disappointing on so many levels. I'm not going to write a full report but the issues that worried me were:
- Palace are many people's favourites for a relegation battle this season yet they dominated the game almost from the start and out played us for the whole game.
- We never looked like we were in control of the game and never looked like getting back into it once we went behind. Frankly we looked clueless - all long ball to Kermorgant who seemed to win very little in the air.
- The Palace fans out sung us from the start to the end. Despite looking better towards the end (after Ricardo Fuller and Danny Green came on) I think that was as much as a consequence of Palace defending their 1-0 lead.
- By the final whistle I had forgotten that this was a derby match, and I just couldn't get the thought out of my head that we'd just lost at home to a team that are probably going to be in a relegation battle this season, and we did well to only lose by one goal.
I know we had a goal disallowed, but before then we's had several scares, and could well have been two behind. From the start of the second half until the last fifteen minutes we were so totally outplayed it was embarrassing. It was almost as embarrassing as the massive difference in the noise from the two ends. A neutral that knew nothing of the history of the two clubs could be forgiven for thinking that Palace are as big as Man Utd and we are as small as many of the teams we played last season.
Yes, this is how disappointed I felt after the game. I have waited to see if, in the cold light of day, I felt more upbeat about it all, but I don't.
I always read all the blogs, and sometimes I don't see things the same as others but for a fuller description of how I felt please read Marco's post on the game. It sums up how I felt about the two sides, and there really was no point in me writing the same thing.
The only thing I felt at all differently to Marco about was the 'Palace Ultras'. I have a little knowledge of the foreign trend (by a little I mean almost none) and I don't like the sound of them, but I did some research about those running (or, at least, involved with) the Palace group and from what I can gather they make a big difference.
I'm not interested in fighting at football matches, never have been, and don't really want any of those characteristics from the 70s and 80s to return, but having a great atmosphere at games I do like. I am sure there will be an element of these Ultras that think they have joined for the kind of respect that comes from the activities that the hooligans of the past engaged in. I have seen The Firm (both the 80s version and the recent one) and I can see how that could be attractive to some. However, the interview I read suggested that the Ultras aim is to generate atmosphere and inclusion for many fans.
I haven't been to Selhurst for a few years, but if they do generate the kind of atmosphere there that they did at The Valley then I would have to confess to being jealous. We had a fantastic day when we lifted the League One title, and the other football for a fiver games have been much better than the normal half empty stadium in the third division, but we haven't seen the kind of buzz at a game that we saw on Friday since we played Swindon in the Playoff Semi Final in 2010. You'd have to go back to the Millwall game in December 2009 for the last time a team came and made the kind of noise Palace did, but I have to admit that I don't think I heard our North Stand make much noise all night.
I know you are all thinking "How much noise did you make in the East stand then?" but that's not the point. The point is that the team I hate the most made us look like the away team on the pitch and the away fans off it.
I'm not sure about the all black outfits - assuming that was them, but call them cheerleaders, belittle them all you like, I think their contribution was significant on the night, and as I've already said I'l jealous that we don't have something like it ourselves. At 41 I'm way too old for that sort of thing, but twenty years ago I'd have been up for it.
Anyway, moving on to tonight. We really need to avoid defeat, and I'd be happy to see us try to keep it tight. A win would be a great and would probably lift us up a few places in the table and take some of the pressure off, but a defeat would mean three defeats on the trot and as a promoted team that can affect confidence in a big way.
I'd take a draw, but I fear we will come away from Pride Park with nothing. Jackson still looks unfit to me. I know he doesn't have a lot of pace but he looks like he, literally, can't run, even from the kick off. Pritchard has looked out of his depth a bit in this division, and we have had no width at all. Danny Green or Wagstaff need to start to give us at least one alternative to Kermorgant as he seems to be a lot less effective in this division.
After Friday evening I started to worry that this could be a long, hard season for us. Tonight might confirm my fears or relieve them.
Up the Addicks!