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General Palace Discussion General Palace talk - please keep transfer talk in the transfer forum.

View Poll Results: MoM
Hennessey 5 1.04%
Fosu-Mensah ** 27 5.64%
Dann 3 0.63%
Riedewald 2 0.42%
Ward 1 0.21%
Milivojevic * 0 0%
Puncheon 7 1.46%
van Aanholt 2 0.42%
Loftus-Cheek 405 84.55%
Zaha 20 4.18%
Benteke 1 0.21%
Townsend * 5 1.04%
Tomkins ** 1 0.21%
Voters: 479. You may not vote on this poll

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  #261  
Old 13-08-2017, 07:27 AM
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I have zero confidence in the FdB based on that team selection. How have we gone a whole summer and ended up with Hennessy, Puncheon and Ward in the starting 11? The three of them need to be axed ASAP. No excuse for it.

As for that bastard formation, it must be the easiest to expose of the lot when you have mediocre players. FdB has already shown that he is incompentant by negating our best player, once again isolating Benteke and doing what every manager we seem to employ seems to do - put square pegs in round holes. It's all a shambolic vanity project that will go wrong. We need to switch to four at the back, get back to two wingers receiving the ball deep and generally playing to our strengths rather than trying to adapt to a formation that only works if you have special players or are managing a 'big' club in a shit league like FdB has.

Worrying but predictable start.
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  #262  
Old 13-08-2017, 07:28 AM
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Lombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietLombardo 888 came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy diet
Blimey, shows what I know. I thought we switched to 4 at the back in the second half. It is clear from this thread how wrong I was but also shows how rooted at the back Joel was.
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  #263  
Old 13-08-2017, 07:36 AM
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Back to 4 4 1 1 and hoofing please. It is what we do
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Old 13-08-2017, 07:36 AM
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Back to 4 4 1 1 and hoofing please. It is what we do
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  #265  
Old 13-08-2017, 09:24 AM
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Nigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy dietNigelbrag came here looking for the peace and quiet; the healthy air and the healthy diet
It was a harsh lesson for ALL to take in but management must learn from it and quickly, the Premiership is a whole new ballgame to the Dutch league and FdB must realise this when planning his changes.
In choosing to switch to his preferred 3-4-3 at a new club, firstly he must ensure you have the players able to adapt and quick, preseason clearly showed we struggled to do so and far from ready to implement straightaway. And to confound things further yesterday, plays a Back Three defence consisting of a previously young reserve 19yr old at RB having been at the club for 3days, then Dann in the middle (no problem with that) but someone returning after a long layoff but who is also getting used to the new setup/system, and next to him a 20yr old still with difficulty settling in, meant the defence was shambolic as a unit and it showed, that is NOT what you do and FdB should have known that.
The crucial midfield was a mix and match and looked all at sea and even the normally reliable Luka looked uneasy, the One bright spot was Loftus-Cheek when eventually moved to his rightful position, but somehow we need to get Cabaye back in OR find an adequate replacement if he chooses to move, also a replacement for Puncheon regardless to him being captain as his performances show he has lost his effectiveness.
As for the Forwards, as an attacking force currently we are non-existent, with Benteke looking no better than a non league striker through no fault of his but purely due to the system asked of him and a lack of service, and if HE does not score the goals needed, Who does? management Must realise that and the consequences when not scoring.
I have said it from the start that the premiership is NOT the place to experiment with a totally new system unless you have the personnel to carry out your plans, and TWO rookie defenders in a Back Three does not constitute the right people to do so in a vital area where the heart of the system stems from.
The decision was made by the Board of what we could expect when appointing Frank de Boer, that is fine with me providing you can show the patience needed and provide the full financial backing that would be needed for FdB to implement the changes.
What yesterdays performance or lack of it showed we are a long long way from perfecting it, which is fair enough as in fairness it is very early days to expect miracles to happen, also judging by all of our reactions on here including Mine on our performance and that soul destroying result, will we be willing to show patience and understanding if after say the next 10 games we come away with say 2/3 points? i really doubt it.
Without sounding over dramatic, i feel it now needs Everybody inc players, FdB and his coaches and if need be Parish as well round a table discussing the way forward and which direction that should take, as clearly if the playing style is unsuitable to the majority then we MUST adjust accordingly, better sooner than later.
I don't think it has been an overreaction by fans even though it is only after ONE game,
far better to plan changes now than to carry on as we did under Pardew with a system that was NOT working and nearly ended up disastrously, until SA came in and realised he needed to change things that suited what was at his disposal, was there not a lesson learnt there? this may well be what FdB needs to consider urgently.
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  #266  
Old 13-08-2017, 09:24 AM
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It was a harsh lesson for ALL to take in but management must learn from it and quickly, the Premiership is a whole new ballgame to the Dutch league and FdB must realise this when planning his changes.
In choosing to switch to his preferred 3-4-3 at a new club, firstly he must ensure you have the players able to adapt and quick, preseason clearly showed we struggled to do so and far from ready to implement straightaway. And to confound things further yesterday, plays a Back Three defence consisting of a previously young reserve 19yr old at RB having been at the club for 3days, then Dann in the middle (no problem with that) but someone returning after a long layoff but who is also getting used to the new setup/system, and next to him a 20yr old still with difficulty settling in, meant the defence was shambolic as a unit and it showed, that is NOT what you do and FdB should have known that.
The crucial midfield was a mix and match and looked all at sea and even the normally reliable Luka looked uneasy, the One bright spot was Loftus-Cheek when eventually moved to his rightful position, but somehow we need to get Cabaye back in OR find an adequate replacement if he chooses to move, also a replacement for Puncheon regardless to him being captain as his performances show he has lost his effectiveness.
As for the Forwards, as an attacking force currently we are non-existent, with Benteke looking no better than a non league striker through no fault of his but purely due to the system asked of him and a lack of service, and if HE does not score the goals needed, Who does? management Must realise that and the consequences when not scoring.
I have said it from the start that the premiership is NOT the place to experiment with a totally new system unless you have the personnel to carry out your plans, and TWO rookie defenders in a Back Three does not constitute the right people to do so in a vital area where the heart of the system stems from.
The decision was made by the Board of what we could expect when appointing Frank de Boer, that is fine with me providing you can show the patience needed and provide the full financial backing that would be needed for FdB to implement the changes.
What yesterdays performance or lack of it showed we are a long long way from perfecting it, which is fair enough as in fairness it is very early days to expect miracles to happen, also judging by all of our reactions on here including Mine on our performance and that soul destroying result, will we be willing to show patience and understanding if after say the next 10 games we come away with say 2/3 points? i really doubt it.
Without sounding over dramatic, i feel it now needs Everybody inc players, FdB and his coaches and if need be Parish as well round a table discussing the way forward and which direction that should take, as clearly if the playing style is unsuitable to the majority then we MUST adjust accordingly, better sooner than later.
I don't think it has been an overreaction by fans even though it is only after ONE game,
far better to plan changes now than to carry on as we did under Pardew with a system that was NOT working and nearly ended up disastrously, until SA came in and realised he needed to change things that suited what was at his disposal, was there not a lesson learnt there? this may well be what FdB needs to consider urgently.
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  #267  
Old 13-08-2017, 10:16 AM
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Welcome Frank. Welcome to Crystal Palace. And welcome to the Premier League. This is the most exciting league in the world. The most competitive league in the world. And the toughest league in the world. If you think you had it hard at Inter Milan, wait until you see what lies in store for you now.

On paper, the Frank De Boer appointment looked a real coup for the club. To appoint a manager with his cv; a glittering playing career, a stalwart at Barcelona, plus above all complete immersion in the Ajax culture of how to play football and coach the youngsters: wow. He’s coming to Crystal Palace? Really?

Yet anyone with a basic grasp of our recent history will know this appointment was risky to say the least. Burley, Holloway and Pardew all wanted us to play football, and they failed. We are Crystal Palace, and we are better without the ball. Since 2010 we have looked best when defensively well-organised, behind the ball and counter-attacking. This flies in the face of the Ajax way, and of the Frank De Boer way. Will it all end in tears? Let’s dissect the early evidence.

So, during pre-season we decided to switch to a 3-4-3 formation as apparently it suits our playing personnel. We had Milivojevic playing right sided centre back, Loftus cheek right side of centre midfield, Townsend as right wing back and Lokilo right wing forward. Milivojevic and Lokilo were taking the corners and free-kicks. Against Huddersfield we decided to continue with the 3-4-3 formation, but our entire right side from pre-season was ripped up and thrown in the bin. Fosu-Mensah slotted in to right sided centre back, Milivojevic right side of centre midfield, Joel Ward reinstated to right wing back, and Loftus Cheek put in as the right side forward. PVA on all the corners. Bizarre. It might not be four changes to personnel, but that is four changes to the right sided positions for our first proper game. Why implement all that at such a critical stage? I can understand Fosu-Mensah slotting in, but shouldn’t Tomkins or Kelly have been playing there in pre-season to allow Milivojevic time to acclimatise to the new formation in his normal position? And why play Loftus-Cheek in central midfield all pre-season, and then ask him to play further up the pitch in our first competitive game? But the biggest change was to drop Townsend to the bench and bring Ward into right wing back. One can only assume for defensive solidity. We are at home against the weakest side on paper. We’ve been drilling Andros Townsend in the right wing back role all pre-season. Did Frank De Boer bottle it at the first hurdle?

Hennessey 6 – He was not at fault for any of the goals. He dropped one cross but recovered. He’s much maligned on here, but I give him great credit for kicking it long and not succumbing to playing the tiki-taka on the edge of our own penalty box that I’m sure were the manager’s instructions.

Riedewald 4 – After the first twenty minutes I barely noticed him, apart from the glaring errors on the goals. He has been brought in to help us implement the tiki-taka style. He plays left-sided centre back, and he holds his position well, but all he does it pass it backwards or put his teammates under pressure. Poor in the air. Untested on the ground so far. A good squad player, but should he be in the starting XI?

Dann 6 – If we are to make this formation work, he has to be the king pin. This formation builds the team around him. I felt he was actually ok defensively on the ground. There were mistakes in possession but I felt that he was played into trouble by his teammates, and it is his first competitive game in this formation. He showed leadership qualities on the pitch, talking to his teammates. I would like to see him more dominant in the air in both boxes. That is what he is playing for. Pleased to see him back in the side.

Fosu-Mensah 8 – A very encouraging start. The guy is immense. His recovery pace for a centre back is exceptional, and he reads the game well. Helped out Dann with a stunning tackle. He is a fabulous signing. Well done Frank De Boer

Van Aanholt 6 – I like him. I know it’s not popular on here because Schlupp did so well at the back end of last season, but I feel he is much better on the ball than Schlupp. He is comfortable in possession, has enough pace and is a clever player who makes good runs. He seems to me to be a confidence player. He had a brilliant first 20 minutes and then faded when we conceded the goals. But I think he will do very well for us this season. That said, I would play Schlupp in the games away from home, and against the better opposition as I think JS is the better defender.

Puncheon 2 – He brings absolutely nothing to the party. Most of his passes are backwards or sideways. If he is playing next to a defensive mid he has to be the creative force, getting up and down the pitch and spraying the ball forward. If he is playing next to an attacking mid he has to be able to defend, which he can’t. He couldn’t do it in a 3, so how is he going to do it when we play only 2 in the midfield. One good pass inside the full back to Zaha aside, he was anonymous. Worse than that actually, he lost possession several times. He seems to put himself at risk without putting the ball at risk to threaten the opposition. Deeply worrying.

Milivojevic 4 – He had an absolute stinker. So many misplaced passes it was embarrassing. That said, I am going to boost his mark, because he has barely played in the midfield in pre-season, and look at who he had either side of him! Wish he had instead tried passing long to Benteke and Zaha; we know he has enough range and ability to do so when fully acclimatised and up to speed.

Ward 1 – An absolute unmitigated disaster at right wing back. He led to our defensive frailties at the back due to his lack of pace hindering him from being able to get back into position. He can’t cross, he is so poor in possession and he lacks pace; he stunted our progression when going up the pitch too. And an own goal. Unless he plays in the back 3 he shouldn’t play for us again.

Zaha 6 – Absolutely no protection from the referee. The opposition should not be able to foul him so often. He still has it. And I like him on the left where he can cut in. Apart from one foray backwards he held his position well. Needs to get closer to Benteke. End product was poor, he just needs to get more shots off or pick someone out – he has the ability to do so. Hopefully just a case of being football-brain rusty.

Benteke 5 – I worry about him. Not so much in the formation, but in the style the manager wants to play. If we don’t give him any long balls to feed off - they don’t need to be head height, he is excellent with his chest and decent on the ground too - we are not utilising him correctly. Still a massive threat at set-pieces and one excellent header that forced their keeper into a superb save. He’s crucial.

Loftus-Cheek 8 – MOM – he absolutely oozes class. What a signing from Frank De Boer. His touch, his pace, his passing range, his ability to win the ball, his strength, I could go on. I have not seen a Palace player drive through centre midfield on a run like he did for about 20 years. He is equally good playing high up or further back. He’s a top top player, and I will be surprised if he’s not representing England in the upcoming World Cup.

Subs:

Townsend 5 – He was mediocre. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t actually think Townsend has enough ability to play in a front 3. He is not a creative player. He doesn’t beat players from a standing start like Wilf can. He can’t thread a pass. He doesn’t have as much vision as Wilf has. But he has a superb engine. He can really get up and down. He has pace. He can cross with both feet, and he has an excellent shot on him. He is the perfect ultra-attacking wing back, especially if we have a really fast right-sided centre back who can cover him. And we do. Andros can be the difference for us. Arriving late to cut in and unleash that special shot, or overlapping and crossing for our attackers. Can’t wait to see him back in the wing-back position against Liverpool. I back him to take them apart.

Tomkins N/A

Frank De Boer 2
– I felt he completely bottled it with his team selection. Are they scared about Ward wanting to leave? Did that influence his decision to put him in at wing back and not keep Townsend there? It was catastrophic. Hopefully he will have learnt a lot, and that he won’t bottle it again. If we want to play his style of football then we need to get rid of the players who are not comfortable in possession. Joel Ward is a decent defender for if a team wishes to defend deep, and there’s no space behind. But he was one of our worst performing first-teamers last season and he needs to be jettisoned from the XI if we are to progress.

Will it all end in tears? That depends on what he does from now on. I know there is a lot of chatter on the BBS about how we should revert to a flat back 4. I disagree. It’s not the formation that’s the problem. The players look well drilled in the 3-4-3. The issues are with personnel for the positions, and our style of play. Put simply we have to be pragmatic about the style required. We need a transition to tiki-taka passing it out from the back. Also, we need to have the nous to go long when the opposition have a high press on us. I felt Wayne Hennessey did that very well. And it shouldn’t be seen as defeat to go long; Benteke is probably the best in the air out of all the centre forwards in the league. Mixing it up will benefit us and catch the opposition off-guard. So, yes we can pass it out from the back sometimes. Yes, we can try to hold possession. But we need to know when to do it and when not to do it. We need to increase the pace of the passes. Some of the movement was excellent. We can still do well this season. I’ll be horrified if Frank De Boer abandons the formation after one game after practising it all pre-season. He needs to be mentally stronger than that. We have the players, just about, to make it work. It’s the style that he needs to be patient with. I’ll be perfectly content if we play a 3-4-3 formation against Liverpool, as long as we get players behind the ball, we don’t try to play too much football, and we work to our strengths – the counter-attack. And we need to work on set-pieces. The basics. The fundamentals.

It’s the midfield that is STILL the problem
It’s great that we are looking at bringing in younger players and looking to build from the back. It’s great that we have Zaha and Benteke in attack. But the centre of midfield still needs urgent attention. If we are playing 3-4-3 those two centre mids need to be awesome at defending, and decent on the ball. Jason Puncheon is a Palace Legend. We simply couldn’t have survived in the Premier League without his goals. But he couldn’t play in a 3 last season, so how on earth is he going to play in a 2 this season?! He needs to remain in the squad for his experience and expertise off the field, but he must be taken out of the XI. Could McArthur play in a 2? I doubt it. I don’t think he will be good enough in possession. There have to be question marks over Milivojevic being able to do it as well. I think he possibly could, but his mobility for the role is borderline, and although his passing range is better than what he showed yesterday there must be question marks over his ability in possession too. Luckily for us we still have Yohan Cabaye. Here is a player who moves into space, is comfortable on the ball, can tackle and has an excellent passing range. He should be in the XI when fit. But we have a long term problem in the centre mid: Puncheon is 31, Cabaye is 31, McArthur turns 30 in October and Loftus-Cheek will return to Chelsea at the end of the season. Also, of the three who should be in contention to start, all of them are right footed (YC, LM, RLC). I think we should look to sign a young left footed centre mid. In the mean-time I think we should look to play Loftus-Cheek on the right side of the more advanced 3, so he can drop back into midfield to help out. Personally I’d much rather play with a 3-5-2 so we could leave Zaha further forward, and have numbers in the middle of the park to win the midfield battle, but RLC right side of the 3 is the best realistic scenario.


Finally, a message to Blitz, Harris, Parish, Tony Adams’ constortium et al: get your cheque book out. Here we have a manager who can attract top talent, and spot top talent. I think the signings of Fosu Mensah and Loftus Cheek are absolutely superb. We should trust De Boer to make the right acquisitions. It’s actually only a few minor tweaks for us to have a top class XI. But there is no strength in depth at all. The squad is wafer-thin. We need a minimum of 4 new players before the transfer window closes: a goalkeeper, a left-sided centre back, a left-sided central midfielder and a forward of some description.

The 2 that are realistic that we’ve been linked with
Jeroen Zoet – I worry that he’s put on weight, but certainly when I saw him in action a few seasons ago he was very good, and quite commanding. Would love us to buy a top young goalkeeper like Freddie Woodman, but we need a new first choice keeper for now.

Mama Sakho
– His experience and class would be superb alongside Dann, and the inexperienced Fosu-Mensah. We know what he can do, and he’d be comfortable in the system.

The 2 that we haven’t been seriously linked with
Jack Wilshere – I think he’d transform us by playing left sided central midfield instead of Puncheon. Unlike Jason he can put in a tackle, he doesn’t lose possession and he can pass forwards. And he’s 6 years younger. It’d be a punt because of his injury record, but I feel he’d excel in this position, and relish the comfort of having 3 passing centre backs behind him, and a lot of options in front of him. He was played too far forward for Bournemouth imho. Even if he got injured, he’d hopefully come back the following season, and as I mentioned earlier we are going to desperately need numbers in central midfield with JP, JM and YC ageing and with RLC returning to Chelsea. We can afford the risk of having him in the 25 and not playing, because the potential rewards of him staying fit are so great.

Adama Traore – I know when it comes to forwards we are being linked with players who are target men, but I feel it’s a bit of a waste. Benteke is going to be first choice, Wickham will hopefully be back in January and will be the understudy, so this new acquisition would soon find himself third choice. Instead we could go for someone with pace, who could play on the right side of the 3 as well as down the middle if we elect to play without a target man. He’s strong enough to play there, and do you need a big centre forward if we are going to pass it out from the back and keep it on the ground? He could potentially even cover right wing back if we wanted to be very attacking! He’s 21 and not currently playing in the Premier League. Our squad is ageing, and so for me he’d be the perfect fit.

Then we could play something like:

--------------------------------------------Zoet------------------------------------------
-----------------Fosu-Mensah---------Dann------------Sakho---------------------
Townsend------------Cabaye/Luka---------Wilshere-------------Van Aanholt
--------------RLC/Traore--------------Benteke-------------Zaha--------------------


There’s a lot of work to be done in the next three weeks.
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Last edited by glaziers fan; 13-08-2017 at 10:19 AM.
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  #268  
Old 13-08-2017, 10:19 AM
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******* hell, GF's bedtime but have been cancelled due to summer holidays.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:21 AM
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TFM an 8 LOL what game were you watching.
He looked ok and put in one cracking tackle but an 8?!?
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  #270  
Old 13-08-2017, 10:26 AM
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"Luckily for us we still have Yohan Cabaye. Here is a player who moves into space, is comfortable on the ball, can tackle and has an excellent passing range. He should be in the XI when fit."

This sums up Yohan perfectly. I don't care if he has only got 70 mins in him, he makes us tick and we are less than average without him.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:29 AM
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Was it really hoofball under Sam? I didn't think so. He presided over some of the best football I've seen us play in years. He is a massive loss.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:31 AM
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Also, yesterday's football wasn't attractive - it was aimless passing at the back, inviting pressure on to ourselves and then play breaking down in the final third. All we had to do was build on our weaknesses from last season but we've not only failed to do that, we have also blunted our previous strengths.

I don't think de Boer could have overseen a worst pre season and opening game.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:32 AM
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Was it really hoofball under Sam? I didn't think so. He presided over some of the best football I've seen us play in years. He is a massive loss.
Wasn't anything like hoofball. It was direct at times but certainly not hoofball. Big difference between the two and our rapid counter attacks were great to watch
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:32 AM
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I don't think de Boer could have overseen a worst pre season and opening game.

That's a good point. We've lost four of our last five opening games. Maybe pre season and transfer policy needs to be looked at
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:34 AM
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Wasn't anything like hoofball. It was direct at times but certainly not hoofball. Big difference between the two and our rapid counter attacks were great to watch
Agreed. Typical that just as we had momentum we have the rug pulled out under us.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:35 AM
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That's a good point. We've lost four of our last five opening games. Maybe pre season and transfer policy needs to be looked at
Last year should have been learned from. We never do our business in time and we are always under prepared for the start of the season. This time is worse imo though - he should have played to our strengths before moving to the new formation when we had the new players in. Really poor and naive management.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:37 AM
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GF - agree with the majoirty of what you say, but think your ratings for TFM, PVA, Luka are too generous.

As for your transfer suggestions, we need to be spending our money on strikers, not CMs. Luka and RLC are going to be fantastic together, and we have Cabaye and McArthur to come in. Agree that Punch is done though. We only have one fit striker - if Benteke gets injured who do you suggest we play up top?

Agree that Mama and Zoet are needed ASAP.
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Old 13-08-2017, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bigend1 View Post
Wasn't anything like hoofball. It was direct at times but certainly not hoofball. Big difference between the two and our rapid counter attacks were great to watch
Bfs is British, doesn't wear chinos, and didn't play for a big club.

The football under managers like him is far more attractive though.

Managers like Pardew and De Boer just have good pr for some reason. Frank De Pardew! Alan De Boer!
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Old 13-08-2017, 11:01 AM
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GF. Immense post. Great stuff.
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Old 13-08-2017, 11:02 AM
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I agree with the vast majority of this and like most fans would have no objections to 343 with the right personnel.

Buying sakho, wilshere and traore won't happen though. I imagine fdb is already hugely frustrated by our transfer policy and inability to get in the players he needs. He's seemingly quite happy to put out a team of players totally unsuited to the formation and style of play he wants as it reinforces our inadequacies and may force the chairman into some spending. Cpfc means nothing to fdb and a disastrous first 25 games or so followed by his resignation/sacking probably would do little to damage his reputation as he would claim (with justification?) that he didn't receive the backing he was promised.

Without these 4 or 5 £20-30m signings it's blindingly clear we need to resort to a formation we are comfortable with.

Palace means everything to us fans though and a disastrous start caused by a vanity project / failure to understand the prem/ our club/fans expectations may mean this is our last year in the prem. who will be our next pardew/pullis/alladyce with the golden touch to avoid relegation?


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Welcome Frank. Welcome to Crystal Palace. And welcome to the Premier League. This is the most exciting league in the world. The most competitive league in the world. And the toughest league in the world. If you think you had it hard at Inter Milan, wait until you see what lies in store for you now.

On paper, the Frank De Boer appointment looked a real coup for the club. To appoint a manager with his cv; a glittering playing career, a stalwart at Barcelona, plus above all complete immersion in the Ajax culture of how to play football and coach the youngsters: wow. Heís coming to Crystal Palace? Really?

Yet anyone with a basic grasp of our recent history will know this appointment was risky to say the least. Burley, Holloway and Pardew all wanted us to play football, and they failed. We are Crystal Palace, and we are better without the ball. Since 2010 we have looked best when defensively well-organised, behind the ball and counter-attacking. This flies in the face of the Ajax way, and of the Frank De Boer way. Will it all end in tears? Letís dissect the early evidence.

So, during pre-season we decided to switch to a 3-4-3 formation as apparently it suits our playing personnel. We had Milivojevic playing right sided centre back, Loftus cheek right side of centre midfield, Townsend as right wing back and Lokilo right wing forward. Milivojevic and Lokilo were taking the corners and free-kicks. Against Huddersfield we decided to continue with the 3-4-3 formation, but our entire right side from pre-season was ripped up and thrown in the bin. Fosu-Mensah slotted in to right sided centre back, Milivojevic right side of centre midfield, Joel Ward reinstated to right wing back, and Loftus Cheek put in as the right side forward. PVA on all the corners. Bizarre. It might not be four changes to personnel, but that is four changes to the right sided positions for our first proper game. Why implement all that at such a critical stage? I can understand Fosu-Mensah slotting in, but shouldnít Tomkins or Kelly have been playing there in pre-season to allow Milivojevic time to acclimatise to the new formation in his normal position? And why play Loftus-Cheek in central midfield all pre-season, and then ask him to play further up the pitch in our first competitive game? But the biggest change was to drop Townsend to the bench and bring Ward into right wing back. One can only assume for defensive solidity. We are at home against the weakest side on paper. Weíve been drilling Andros Townsend in the right wing back role all pre-season. Did Frank De Boer bottle it at the first hurdle?

Hennessey 6 Ė He was not at fault for any of the goals. He dropped one cross but recovered. Heís much maligned on here, but I give him great credit for kicking it long and not succumbing to playing the tiki-taka on the edge of our own penalty box that Iím sure were the managerís instructions.

Riedewald 4 Ė After the first twenty minutes I barely noticed him, apart from the glaring errors on the goals. He has been brought in to help us implement the tiki-taka style. He plays left-sided centre back, and he holds his position well, but all he does it pass it backwards or put his teammates under pressure. Poor in the air. Untested on the ground so far. A good squad player, but should he be in the starting XI?

Dann 6 Ė If we are to make this formation work, he has to be the king pin. This formation builds the team around him. I felt he was actually ok defensively on the ground. There were mistakes in possession but I felt that he was played into trouble by his teammates, and it is his first competitive game in this formation. He showed leadership qualities on the pitch, talking to his teammates. I would like to see him more dominant in the air in both boxes. That is what he is playing for. Pleased to see him back in the side.

Fosu-Mensah 8 Ė A very encouraging start. The guy is immense. His recovery pace for a centre back is exceptional, and he reads the game well. Helped out Dann with a stunning tackle. He is a fabulous signing. Well done Frank De Boer

Van Aanholt 6 Ė I like him. I know itís not popular on here because Schlupp did so well at the back end of last season, but I feel he is much better on the ball than Schlupp. He is comfortable in possession, has enough pace and is a clever player who makes good runs. He seems to me to be a confidence player. He had a brilliant first 20 minutes and then faded when we conceded the goals. But I think he will do very well for us this season. That said, I would play Schlupp in the games away from home, and against the better opposition as I think JS is the better defender.

Puncheon 2 Ė He brings absolutely nothing to the party. Most of his passes are backwards or sideways. If he is playing next to a defensive mid he has to be the creative force, getting up and down the pitch and spraying the ball forward. If he is playing next to an attacking mid he has to be able to defend, which he canít. He couldnít do it in a 3, so how is he going to do it when we play only 2 in the midfield. One good pass inside the full back to Zaha aside, he was anonymous. Worse than that actually, he lost possession several times. He seems to put himself at risk without putting the ball at risk to threaten the opposition. Deeply worrying.

Milivojevic 4 Ė He had an absolute stinker. So many misplaced passes it was embarrassing. That said, I am going to boost his mark, because he has barely played in the midfield in pre-season, and look at who he had either side of him! Wish he had instead tried passing long to Benteke and Zaha; we know he has enough range and ability to do so when fully acclimatised and up to speed.

Ward 1 Ė An absolute unmitigated disaster at right wing back. He led to our defensive frailties at the back due to his lack of pace hindering him from being able to get back into position. He canít cross, he is so poor in possession and he lacks pace; he stunted our progression when going up the pitch too. And an own goal. Unless he plays in the back 3 he shouldnít play for us again.

Zaha 6 Ė Absolutely no protection from the referee. The opposition should not be able to foul him so often. He still has it. And I like him on the left where he can cut in. Apart from one foray backwards he held his position well. Needs to get closer to Benteke. End product was poor, he just needs to get more shots off or pick someone out Ė he has the ability to do so. Hopefully just a case of being football-brain rusty.

Benteke 5 Ė I worry about him. Not so much in the formation, but in the style the manager wants to play. If we donít give him any long balls to feed off - they donít need to be head height, he is excellent with his chest and decent on the ground too - we are not utilising him correctly. Still a massive threat at set-pieces and one excellent header that forced their keeper into a superb save. Heís crucial.

Loftus-Cheek 8 Ė MOM Ė he absolutely oozes class. What a signing from Frank De Boer. His touch, his pace, his passing range, his ability to win the ball, his strength, I could go on. I have not seen a Palace player drive through centre midfield on a run like he did for about 20 years. He is equally good playing high up or further back. Heís a top top player, and I will be surprised if heís not representing England in the upcoming World Cup.

Subs:

Townsend 5 Ė He was mediocre. Iíve said it before, and Iíll say it again: I donít actually think Townsend has enough ability to play in a front 3. He is not a creative player. He doesnít beat players from a standing start like Wilf can. He canít thread a pass. He doesnít have as much vision as Wilf has. But he has a superb engine. He can really get up and down. He has pace. He can cross with both feet, and he has an excellent shot on him. He is the perfect ultra-attacking wing back, especially if we have a really fast right-sided centre back who can cover him. And we do. Andros can be the difference for us. Arriving late to cut in and unleash that special shot, or overlapping and crossing for our attackers. Canít wait to see him back in the wing-back position against Liverpool. I back him to take them apart.

Tomkins N/A

Frank De Boer 2
Ė I felt he completely bottled it with his team selection. Are they scared about Ward wanting to leave? Did that influence his decision to put him in at wing back and not keep Townsend there? It was catastrophic. Hopefully he will have learnt a lot, and that he wonít bottle it again. If we want to play his style of football then we need to get rid of the players who are not comfortable in possession. Joel Ward is a decent defender for if a team wishes to defend deep, and thereís no space behind. But he was one of our worst performing first-teamers last season and he needs to be jettisoned from the XI if we are to progress.

Will it all end in tears? That depends on what he does from now on. I know there is a lot of chatter on the BBS about how we should revert to a flat back 4. I disagree. Itís not the formation thatís the problem. The players look well drilled in the 3-4-3. The issues are with personnel for the positions, and our style of play. Put simply we have to be pragmatic about the style required. We need a transition to tiki-taka passing it out from the back. Also, we need to have the nous to go long when the opposition have a high press on us. I felt Wayne Hennessey did that very well. And it shouldnít be seen as defeat to go long; Benteke is probably the best in the air out of all the centre forwards in the league. Mixing it up will benefit us and catch the opposition off-guard. So, yes we can pass it out from the back sometimes. Yes, we can try to hold possession. But we need to know when to do it and when not to do it. We need to increase the pace of the passes. Some of the movement was excellent. We can still do well this season. Iíll be horrified if Frank De Boer abandons the formation after one game after practising it all pre-season. He needs to be mentally stronger than that. We have the players, just about, to make it work. Itís the style that he needs to be patient with. Iíll be perfectly content if we play a 3-4-3 formation against Liverpool, as long as we get players behind the ball, we donít try to play too much football, and we work to our strengths Ė the counter-attack. And we need to work on set-pieces. The basics. The fundamentals.

Itís the midfield that is STILL the problem
Itís great that we are looking at bringing in younger players and looking to build from the back. Itís great that we have Zaha and Benteke in attack. But the centre of midfield still needs urgent attention. If we are playing 3-4-3 those two centre mids need to be awesome at defending, and decent on the ball. Jason Puncheon is a Palace Legend. We simply couldnít have survived in the Premier League without his goals. But he couldnít play in a 3 last season, so how on earth is he going to play in a 2 this season?! He needs to remain in the squad for his experience and expertise off the field, but he must be taken out of the XI. Could McArthur play in a 2? I doubt it. I donít think he will be good enough in possession. There have to be question marks over Milivojevic being able to do it as well. I think he possibly could, but his mobility for the role is borderline, and although his passing range is better than what he showed yesterday there must be question marks over his ability in possession too. Luckily for us we still have Yohan Cabaye. Here is a player who moves into space, is comfortable on the ball, can tackle and has an excellent passing range. He should be in the XI when fit. But we have a long term problem in the centre mid: Puncheon is 31, Cabaye is 31, McArthur turns 30 in October and Loftus-Cheek will return to Chelsea at the end of the season. Also, of the three who should be in contention to start, all of them are right footed (YC, LM, RLC). I think we should look to sign a young left footed centre mid. In the mean-time I think we should look to play Loftus-Cheek on the right side of the more advanced 3, so he can drop back into midfield to help out. Personally Iíd much rather play with a 3-5-2 so we could leave Zaha further forward, and have numbers in the middle of the park to win the midfield battle, but RLC right side of the 3 is the best realistic scenario.


Finally, a message to Blitz, Harris, Parish, Tony Adamsí constortium et al: get your cheque book out. Here we have a manager who can attract top talent, and spot top talent. I think the signings of Fosu Mensah and Loftus Cheek are absolutely superb. We should trust De Boer to make the right acquisitions. Itís actually only a few minor tweaks for us to have a top class XI. But there is no strength in depth at all. The squad is wafer-thin. We need a minimum of 4 new players before the transfer window closes: a goalkeeper, a left-sided centre back, a left-sided central midfielder and a forward of some description.

The 2 that are realistic that weíve been linked with
Jeroen Zoet Ė I worry that heís put on weight, but certainly when I saw him in action a few seasons ago he was very good, and quite commanding. Would love us to buy a top young goalkeeper like Freddie Woodman, but we need a new first choice keeper for now.

Mama Sakho
Ė His experience and class would be superb alongside Dann, and the inexperienced Fosu-Mensah. We know what he can do, and heíd be comfortable in the system.

The 2 that we havenít been seriously linked with
Jack Wilshere Ė I think heíd transform us by playing left sided central midfield instead of Puncheon. Unlike Jason he can put in a tackle, he doesnít lose possession and he can pass forwards. And heís 6 years younger. Itíd be a punt because of his injury record, but I feel heíd excel in this position, and relish the comfort of having 3 passing centre backs behind him, and a lot of options in front of him. He was played too far forward for Bournemouth imho. Even if he got injured, heíd hopefully come back the following season, and as I mentioned earlier we are going to desperately need numbers in central midfield with JP, JM and YC ageing and with RLC returning to Chelsea. We can afford the risk of having him in the 25 and not playing, because the potential rewards of him staying fit are so great.

Adama Traore Ė I know when it comes to forwards we are being linked with players who are target men, but I feel itís a bit of a waste. Benteke is going to be first choice, Wickham will hopefully be back in January and will be the understudy, so this new acquisition would soon find himself third choice. Instead we could go for someone with pace, who could play on the right side of the 3 as well as down the middle if we elect to play without a target man. Heís strong enough to play there, and do you need a big centre forward if we are going to pass it out from the back and keep it on the ground? He could potentially even cover right wing back if we wanted to be very attacking! Heís 21 and not currently playing in the Premier League. Our squad is ageing, and so for me heíd be the perfect fit.

Then we could play something like:

--------------------------------------------Zoet------------------------------------------
-----------------Fosu-Mensah---------Dann------------Sakho---------------------
Townsend------------Cabaye/Luka---------Wilshere-------------Van Aanholt
--------------RLC/Traore--------------Benteke-------------Zaha--------------------


Thereís a lot of work to be done in the next three weeks.
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