It’s now more than a year since Steve Mandanda called time on his spell with Crystal Palace in favour of a return to Marseille but according to a pair of his coaches, the keeper is still hurting from what he was forced to endure in SE25.
Having established himself as a key figure with the French club prior to his move across the channel, it’s now obvious that Steve saw his switch to Selhurst Park as a potential springboard to bigger and better things with one of the Premier League’s top six. Sadly for him, his best laid plans didn’t quite come to fruition, with a knee injury seeing him sidelined for months and stagnating in an environment which plainly didn’t suit him.
All sorts of stories regarding his general unhappiness surfaced in the weeks and months after he sustained his injury, thanks in no small part to a couple of interviews he gave live on French television but to hear our name dragged into discussions over his loss of form almost 18 months after leaving feels a tad rich.
In Palace’s defence, they signed a goalkeeper hoping to have him as the club’s undisputed number one for years to come, only to see him speak openly about his desire to return to France regularly during his first season on the club’s books. Having seen the incredibly loyal Julian Speroni occupying the space between the sticks for years beforehand, it was a severe change of pace and one that I don’t think our fans, players, coaches or board members can be blamed for not taking well to.
As a supporter, I have drawn a line under the whole thing as a failed experiment but to hear those connected to Mandanda still claiming that we “scarred” him more than a year on from the club cutting their losses and granting his wish to return home leaves me feeling as though people are clutching at straws.