Wednesday 4 October 2017

It's The Hope That Kills You

For some reason, the team I have called "mine" for over 50 years, are making headlines around the world right now. 

It's to be expected from Andy Johnson's Magic Hat, but in addition, the Power of Goals blog's latest post is about Crystal Palace, and our plight has even reached Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight blog with a piece titled There's Still Hope For The Soccer Team That Can't Score

I can't see what the fuss is about. As some of those articles explain, it's something of a freak occurrence that our goal tally is currently a round number, but the talk of relegation is surely premature.

I mentioned in a Tweet last night that it was:
To be honest, at this point I'll settle for 17th place, but I like to dream big.

Cue hope-dasher @l1ugs:
As anyone who follows Palace knows, it's seldom easy. The Andy Johnson's Magic Hat post mentioned earlier has the title 'The Palace rollercoaster' for good reason, and the author details some of the streaks we have experienced in our four plus seasons in the Premier League.

But it's not only the recovery from 20th place in mid-January 2014 after 21 games that is encouraging.
It's that even if Palace lose game eight (H v Chelsea) after the international break, there's still plenty of points to be gained from the remaining 30 games. 

To the left are the remaining fixtures, along with last season's results against those clubs (and yes John, I know the teams / managers have changed, but when our injured players return, we should be at least as as strong as last season, and right now I need some straw to cling to, not a big bad wolf to blow it away). 

I've replaced last season's relegated trio - Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland - with promoted Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town respectively).

I make that 35 points, which is very close to the probable 36 / 37 points required for safety.

On the downside, we are unlikely to pick up six points at Chelsea and v Arsenal again, (although we do average points in three Big Six fixtures each season, so we're due... ) but on the upside, ten of the losses were by one goal, and converting some of those into draws or even wins shouldn't be impossible once we find the net again. 

Even if Palace are pointless after 12 games, (be nice to have a goal by then though) there's still hope. Isn't there? 

The run from late November to Xmas looks to be vital, and if we can pick points up through the end of March, the final six games are all winnable. 

Betfair has an implied probability of about 0.62 for Palace to be relegated. Maybe I'll look at a lay after yet another Palace trip to Wembley on Guy Fawke's Day. 

I'm also old enough to clearly remember the 1973-74 season, when Palace were back in the old Division Two after finally succumbing to relegation after four seasons in Division One. 

As I wrote here, with Malcolm Allison in charge, optimism reigned.
The next season saw the introduction of three-up / three-down, and Allison promised that we would not be in Division Two for long. He was true to his word.
Palace failed to win any of their first fifteen League games, and had just two wins and eight draws by the New Year. 

Fast forward to Good Friday and after a 3:2 win at Fulham, we were looking good to stay up with just five matches remaining. 

Unfortunately we followed a defeat at Millwall the next day with a home defeat by Fulham on the Tuesday and were right back in the proverbial. 

A win at Cardiff City in the final game of the season would have sent the Bluebirds down in our place on goal average, but we could only draw 1:1, and took the newly created third relegation place.

Consecutive relegations, but a season to remember. Football used to be a lot of fun back then.   

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