1. Whatever were your expectations for the season? Have things gone to plan?
Expectation at the start of the season was to simply show further improvement on last season, and the hopes were that following last season’s improvement that Dougie could continue to build on the spine of the team, but open us up more in terms of an attacking threat, instead of being as defensive as we were at points. Pre season was interesting with the players who departed, but on paper it looked like we were strenghening enough with the players we were bringing in.
We didn’t start particularly well but then it fell into place for us and promotion is now a genuine ambition, despite the managerial upheaval we had.
So it certainly hasn’t gone to plan, and whilst some harboured an outside hope of maybe a play off run if things clicked, after 20 games nobody expected us to be in 2nd place and flying high.
2. Losing Dougie Freedman to Bolton must have been a shock. Did the appointment of Ian Holloway meet with all round approval?
Especially after Dougie’s comments in the press about not being the kind of man to finish a job half done, I really thought he was staying, and it not only shocked a lot of fans that he did walk, it deflated many and gutted them because with his history with us, most really thought he’d stick with us.
I was sceptical at first because of Ian’s – shall we say – vibrant personality. Dougie was much more low key and I was worried that his personality could be too much of a change for the club. Many others didn’t share that worry I have to add, but as time went on and I thought about it more, I don’t think we could’ve got a better bloke in, especially to work with our youngsters and the confidence you must get by having somebody like him fighting your corner.
There weren’t many grumbles I saw when the announcement came, and there haven’t been any grumbles since as he seems to have fitted in perfectly with the camp as results since his arrival attest to.
3. Has Ollie brought any changes to your style of play yet?
I think Ollie’s belief in football, just outscore the opposition, is slowly starting to creep into our play as we are a bit more direct – I don’t mean hoof ball direct – but we seem a bit more ‘keen’ to get on the attack at points, but he hasn’t done anything that has weakened our defensive resolve. So I can see subtle tweaks, but he certainly hasn’t come in and made wholescale changes, he’s sticking with what has worked for us.
4. What are your views on retaining Zaha in the window, crucial for the promotion push, or cash in now if money goes back into the squad?
I’m torn, because I know what the sums bandied around could do for us and the team even if only 3/4 was reinvested in the window and the club took the other 1/4 and put it away for a rainy day. But Wilf is our talisman and a statement of ambition, especially given where we find ourselves in the league at the moment.
Trying to take the googles off and looking objectively at this situation, I think Palace need to turn the phones off in January, because his valuation and worth will only go up, especially if we clinch promotion this term. Selling him might cause a ruckus that would affect our form, so there are more reasons to keep him than cash in for me.
5. Who are the Palace players we can expect to impress on Saturday?
Murray is on a rich vein of form at the moment, and Zaha and Bolasie flying towards the box is a very exciting balance for us. Jedinak, Garvan and Dikgacoi will also need to be shutdown so they don’t run midfield.
6. If you could pinch a Blackpool player who would it be?
Ince is the obvious one, he has to be really doesn’t he. Seems a real talent with a huge future ahead of him as long as he keeps his feet grounded.
7. And finally, your prediction for Saturday
We all know Ollie will have our lads fired up to try and nullify his own affect in the game, as no doubt your lads will want to get one over on him. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see us cancel each other out, until the last 20 where I think one goal will win it. My head unfortunately says you’ll get the winner because that’s what always seems to happen in these circumstances, but my heart is hoping we nick it to maintain our form.