He’s a player who’s come in for all sorts of stick from supporters (including me) since signing for the club but on Saturday, Jeffrey Schlupp showed exactly why Roy Hodgson is so keen to involve him in first-team duties from week to week.
Statistically the best player on the field according to whoscored.com, the Ghana international caused Fulham all manner of problems, managing to top a fine display off with a goal in the 87th minute to provide the icing on the cake.
With four shots, (the most of anyone on the pitch) three interceptions, (the most of any Palace player) and three tackles (the second most of any Palace player) Jeff gave the side something in both defence and attack across the 90 minutes, keeping even his harshest of critics from having anything to beat him over the head with at the final whistle.
There is no doubt that Schlupp is one of Hodgson’s favourites, you only need to look at the amount of game-time he gets to realise that but for a manager who has been in the industry so long, the former Leicester man’s versatility is probably see as a huge strength during each and every contest. On one hand, the fact that Jeff doesn’t really occupy a specific role in the side can be perceived as a weakness but alongside that, it literally means that Roy can and will throw him into almost any position on the pitch, including that of a striker.
It’s important to note that I have been a vocal critic of Schlupp on many an occasion but credit where it’s due, he was superb for us on Saturday. To me, he’s like a handyman capable of semi-fixing any problem you’ve got for a short period of time; a Jack of all trades and a master of none. That isn’t a criticism despite how it may sound, teams like players like that, who are selfless enough to fill in wherever needed without moaning, in terms of team morale and tactical flexibility that’s vital.
In an ideal world would I rather see Max Meyer starting in midfield over Jeff? I’d be lying if I said no but I am starting to understand why the gaffer is so enamoured by him and his ability to adapt to a multitude of scenarios dependent on the opponent.