Frustration: the prevention of the progress, success, or fulfilment of something.
It’s a word that numerous football fans readily associate with the daily grind of following the ups and downs endured by their chosen club but for supporters of Crystal Palace, the last seven days have been more frustrating than most that have preceded them since CPFC2010 first took the reins at Selhurst Park some six years ago.
Having collectively healed from the initially gaping wound that had been opened by the heartbreaking extra-time FA Cup Final defeat to Manchester United in May, the Palace fan-base had approached the recently concluded pre-season campaign with an uncharacteristically high level of optimism for what lay ahead in the weeks and months to come. Thanks to the remarkably early signings of Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Steve Mandanda for a combined fee of around £23 million, many began to suggest that those behind the scenes in SE25 had learnt lessons from mistakes made in summers of yesteryear but in the month or so that has followed, that palpable sense of enthusiasm has slowly but surely begun to drain away.
Whilst our apparent inability to complete a move for long time transfer target Christian Benteke has caused a great deal of head scratching in South London throughout July and early August, the news coming out of the club in recent days regarding two supposedly imminent departures has done little to quell the general mood of disenchantment within the Eagles’ core support.
It would be foolish of me to suggest that the deal which is likely see Yannick Bolasie move to Goodison Park tomorrow represents anything other than stellar business on a financial level. Having paid just £300,000 for him in 2012, we will be getting close to a 10,000% return on our initial outlay having had four years of regular first-team appearances from him, but for a club who have consistently spoken about the need for perpetual growth both on and off the field, the task of finding a suitable like for like replacement in the days that remain of the transfer window looks on the face of things to be an almost impossible challenge.
In direct contrast to the grudging understanding that Palace fans have openly shown towards the record-breaking deal involving Bolasie and the Toffees, former club captain Mile Jedinak’s proposed move to Villa Park has unleashed a far greater level of vitriol from Palace supporters both young and old. After watching the physically imposing Aussie toss his shirt into the crowd following our thoroughly disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to West Brom, the writing appeared to be on the wall regarding his impending switch to Villa Park, but with Pardew’s players having picked up just 11 points from the previous 60 on offer, any decision to sell the team’s figurative rock, both on and off the field, was unlikely to ever go down well.
Contrary to popular belief, a large number of those who voluntarily concern themselves with the various peaks and troughs that their chosen football club encounter on a daily basis tend to be remarkably receptive to any move that can be explained in a logical manner. With this in mind, it’s well worth examining the widespread reaction to Jedinak’s soon to be confirmed transfer in pure isolation. Whilst any regular watcher of our games in recent seasons will happily concede that Mile’s passing is nowhere near the level it should be for a starting Premier League midfielder; his mere presence in the squad has acted as something of a comfort blanket for fans since the moment Dougie Freedman first decided to hot-foot it north for an ill-fated stint in charge of Bolton Wanderers.
Since then, Mile has played under four permanent managers, never once kicking up a fuss in the public eye. Loved and respected by the three who preceded Alan Pardew as a consequence of leadership in the middle of the park, it has never felt as though he and the current gaffer have seen eye to eye, with a somewhat uneasy truce between the two coming to a head recently when Pardew decided to strip him of the captaincy in favour of Scott Dann. On the face of things, it was a move which made sense, but on a deeper level, it may well have been the final straw from Mile, who was no doubt stung by his demotion in status amongst his teammates.
As fans, we are all well aware of the need for change from time to time, it’s only natural for the players that make up the spine of any side to change slightly from year to year, but for Palace this summer, the balance between carefully orchestrated regeneration and mass alterations is beginning to tip too far in favour of the latter for the liking of many, particularly when you consider the sizeable effort it will require to sign and incorporate an expected four new players into an already pressurised group under the intense glare of the Premier League spotlight.
Pardew has openly spoken of hoping to bring in two new strikers before the transfer window closes (one of whom is believed to be the now almost mythical figure of Christian Benteke) but with his post-match interview yesterday suggesting that any outgoing squad members will be replaced in like for like fashion, you have to ask questions over why we are allowing a player of Jedinak’s stature to leave us in the first place, given the doubts over whether or not we have a ready-made transfer target waiting in the wings for the moment the ink is dry on Jedinak’s contract with the Midlanders.
Many outside of the Palace bubble would probably expect our fans to harbour far more pressing concerns over our current form, but for those of us who have risen and fallen with every false dawn that has come our way since the end of Euro 2016; the club’s transfer business, or perhaps more accurately, the lack of it, has taken precedence in our minds ahead of the unquestionably toothless display Alan Pardew’s players put up against Tony Pulis’ Baggies on Saturday afternoon.
We live in hope.