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Crystal Palace need to change approach to avoid Liverpool hiding
3:12pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in Latest Sport
I WON’T be sad to see the back of September.
A trio of successive 2-0 defeats has all but banished the memory of that memorable victory over Sunderland.
Some may argue our dismal form is entirely expected in the Premier League, perhaps somewhat acceptable given the superior strength of our opponents.
But the lack of goals is still incredibly worrying, even if our defensive resolute nature has enabled us to avoid humiliation.
With high-flying Liverpool and table-toppers Arsenal lined up on the horizon this month it is clear the club are closer to rock bottom rather than the salvation of the surface.
Despite a resurgence on the red half of Merseyside, Brendan Rodgers has attracted criticism for his seemingly detrimental half-time team talks which, aside from Sunday’s win at Sunderland, have seen his side struggle after the break.
The same can be said of Ian Holloway, who has so far failed to inject his unyielding brand of fire and determination into his new look side. Once again, a solid opening 45 minutes against Southampton was undone in a matter of minutes as Palace emerged a timid and error-prone unit.
There is so much emphasis on suffocating our opponents at the moment the team is crippled by a lack of confidence, ideas and indeed energy when they finally regain possession.
There is also an immediate sense of doom and gloom among the players if we concede first, a belief that our one and only game plan is now ruined.
At first I was pleased Holloway had abandoned the gun-ho approach he adopted with Blackpool, but I’m not so sure if it is to be replaced with such a bland and lifeless attacking display.
Holloway needs to find a happy medium and fast.
However, there was certainly some improvement from last week’s public hanging at home to Swansea, even if the same 2-0 scoreline suggested otherwise.
In among Southampton’s dominance there were brief interludes of excitement, largely thanks to the direct running of Jimmy Kebe and the subtle efficiency of Barry Bannan.
And who knows what might have happened if Marouane Chamakh had artfully dinked the ball into the net rather than waiting to drape himself over the onrushing Artur Boruc.
The sight of Chamakh’s legs turning to Jenga blocks upon entering the penalty area is not a new spectacle, but this didn’t prevent a wave of embarrassment washing over me.
His antics will not only have infuriate Holloway but placed him in the uneasy predicament of deciding a suitable punishment.
Only a fortnight ago Holloway was championing his chairman’s proposal to dismiss anyone who blatantly tries to create a goal-scoring opportunity, as well as deny one.
Why Chamakh refused to pull the trigger continues to puzzle every Palace fan.
Has he grown so stale over the years at Arsenal his natural instincts have deserted him?
Or is this just another example of how modern footballers crave a numerical advantage both on the pitch and the scoresheet?
Thankfully Holloway was tactful enough to avoid an in-depth discussion with the media and instead insisted the matter would be dealt with internally.
It must be tempting to make an example of Chamakh, not only as a wake-up call to the striker but also to reaffirm the position such acts will not be tolerated in English football.
But it seems, however hypocritical, Holloway will merely have a quiet word rather than risk upsetting an influential member of our squad.
Chamakh spent the rest of the game either sulking or squabbling with his team-mates and for this reason I would bench him for this weekend’s trip to Liverpool.
Anfield is a daunting venue for most players, especially those nursing such a severe crisis in confidence.
By contrast, Liverpool have recently welcomed back their own prolific striker, while bolstering the defence with high-profile names.
If Palace are to pick up any points, we must revive these ailing tactics.
The lack of width, communication up front and a reliance on Mile Jedinak - whose two goal-gifting mistakes in recent games suggest he is suffering under the pressure - simply has to change.
It’s evident from Holloway’s post-match analysis he is fully aware of the team’s more prominent problems.
The question is whether he has the time, resources, or indeed ability, to fix them.
If he fails to find the solution then I fear we’ll be lucky to come away with just a 2-0 defeat.
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