Connor Wickham will need next to no extra motivation to put on a good show against Sunderland tomorrow night if his words here are anything to go by, not that it has stopped new Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce from sticking the knife in to the 22-year-old.
Allardyce’s comments on Wickham’s lack of goals aren’t exactly well advised, given the desperation the former Sunderland man has to get one over on his former club. Even though he’s yet to score for Palace, you wouldn’t bet against him changing that on Monday.
Despite the former West Ham boss having tried and failed to take Wickham to Upton Park during his time there, he has wasted no time in making reference to the striker’s “disappointing” goal ratio in the build-up to Monday night’s clash in South London.
It’s a curious point of view from Big Sam, who in a matter of moments switches from confirming that he was enamoured enough with Connor’s game to make attempts at signing him, to making a pointed dig at his lack of success in front of goal. Far be it for us to attempt to read too far in between the lines, but it does smack a little of sour grapes on his part.
Regular readers of this site will know that our appreciation of what Wickham brings to the side runs deep. Whilst his goal return is admittedly a worry on the face of things, there are very few regular watchers of Palace who can’t see the tactical avenues his inclusion in the starting XI opens up. Acting as a focal point for our rapid counter-attacks, he keeps defenders constantly occupied, creating space for the likes of Zaha, Bolasie and Sako to bomb on and wreak havoc. It’s not rocket science, but until now, few have gained the level of appreciation for the 22-year-old that Alan Pardew clearly has.
He may still be searching for his first goal in Palace colours by the time the full-time whistle sounds at Selhurst Park tomorrow night, but you can be sure that Allardyce’s comments in the article attached above will have spurred him on hugely in his bid to prove him wrong.