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Swansea could have beaten poor Eagles side blindfolded
4:36pm Tuesday 24th September 2013 in Latest Sport
THESE are the games I fear the most, the games which offer genuine hope of picking up unlikely points in our quest for survival.
In hindsight, Swansea could have won Sunday’s fixture blindfolded and with one arm tied behind their back, such was their mesmerising awareness on the ball and tactical superiority.
I had hoped Michael Laudrup’s midweek excursion in Valencia would have left his side drained, or perhaps carrying a false sense of security.
Instead it was Palace who looked bleary-eyed and hungover, taking just 80 seconds to implode as if Saturday’s pre-match preparation involved a tray full of Jagerbombs.
But the manner in which we were stunned in submission still came as a surprise, considering our promising resilience against the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United.
Whereas the Swans were swift, elegant and decisive, Palace were immobile, hapless and appeared to start buffering every time they regained possession.
Ian Holloway had labelled Swansea an “inspiration” in the build-up to the game, but it’s now clear they’ll decorate his nightmares for weeks to come.
Nevertheless, Holloway’s decision to combat Kagisho Dikgacoi’s suspension with three attacking changes outlined his belief that points were up for grabs.
However, not one of the three new debutants at Selhurst Park could inflict a positive impact on the game and were quite rightly dubbed ‘strangers’ during Holloway’s post-match assessment.
Cameron Jerome clashed awkwardly with Marouane Chamakh, Barry Bannan was suffocated every time he had the chance to surge forward while Adlene Guedioura showcased the tactical naivety and rash decision-making that tarnished his time at Nottingham Forest.
The writing was on the wall when Damien Delaney departed at half-time.
With no defensive reinforcements available, Mile Jedinak was clumsily shuffled back alongside Danny Gabbidon.
And with that the midfield battle was lost, with Swansea immediately able to capitalise on a makeshift backline.
Quite why Holloway refused to seriously strengthen his defence this summer remains a mystery.
It seems he has placed a colossal amount of faith in Paddy McCarthy, who while influential, has zero Premier League experience and has spent the last 12 months flat out on the treatment table.
Holloway himself watched the match from just about every seat in the house as he served the final game of his touchline ban.
Sadly, though, the performance will have looked demoralising from every angle.
And Holloway’s post-match blues were particularly evident with his declaration this was “as bad as I ever want to feel”.
But with daunting away trips to Southampton and Liverpool lined up, it’s difficult to envisage an instant revival in fortunes.
Thankfully the rest of the afternoon’s football lured attention away from an abject display.
Fellow relegation candidates Cardiff suffered a cruel last-minute defeat against Tottenham and United’s trouncing at the hands of their neighbours will mean Surrey is a rather sombre place this week.
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