Palace fans everywhere have been baffled by Roy Hodgson’s reluctance to put Max Meyer in the starting XI this season and now the trend is being picked up by the wider sporting media too.
The bad terms on which Meyer left Schalke over the summer meant that a host of clubs were reluctant to take a punt on him. Incredibly, Palace’s interest wasn’t met with scoffs from the midfielder’s representatives and late in the transfer window, Max’s move to SE25 was officially confirmed. I, along with roughly 99.89% of fellow Eagles fans assumed that the diminutive 22-year-old would be a key player in the XI as soon as he stepped foot in south London but somehow, he remains on the fringes of the side.
Part of the difficulty in using him from week to week stems from the personnel already embedded in Hodgson’s tactical set-up. Luka Milivojevic holds the captain’s armband, thus elevating him slightly above the usual perils of a rotational place whilst James McArthur’s boundless energy has seen him become an obvious favourite of the gaffer’s during his 13 months in charge. I can easily make cases for either man to be dropped for Meyer given the starts they’ve had in 2018/19 but in truth there’s little need, given the regular selection of Jeffrey Schlupp next to them in the middle of the park.
The former Leicester man has been given 420 minutes of Premier League football in comparison to Meyer’s 175 so far this season, with very little to show for it. In fact, Schlupp has managed just 2 key passes in that time, whilst Meyer has already chalked up 5. Other statistical measurements come down in the German’s favour too; (assists 1-0, passes 130-138, shots 5-6, passing accuracy 92%-76%) leading thousands to wonder why Roy doesn’t see him as one of first names on the team-sheet.
Having started in the fundraising friendly against Dulwich Hamlet last Thursday, you could be forgiven for wondering where Meyer’s future lies. We now know that we’ll be without Christian Benteke for the rest of the calendar year, meaning we’ll be leaning more heavily than ever on our midfield for creativity. Keeping that in mind, Max must surely start against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. If not, serious questions will rightly if reluctantly be asked of the boss post-match.