For Palace fans, Saturday’s FA Cup Quarter-Final was seen as a golden opportunity for a highly-prized trip to Wembley but speaking after the defeat, boss Roy Hodgson was quoted as saying that the cup had always been an “added bonus” for the club.
With Premier League football now taking an enforced break thanks to a round of international fixtures, the players and coaching staff will take three or four days off before returning to training to prepare for a must-win game at home to Huddersfield Town. Had we performed to anything like the level we’re capable of throughout the 2018/19 campaign, our top flight status would be all but mathematically secured but instead we find ourselves looking nervously over our shoulders and explaining away a feeble FA Cup Quarter-Final showing because of it.
Hodgson may not be wrong in describing the weekly grind of the Premier League as the club’s bread and butter but it doesn’t take away from the fact that in our sixth consecutive season at English football’s top table, supporters would like to see the club aiming for a little bit more than mere survival and a shrug of the shoulders after limply exiting the FA Cup in the last eight.
You only need to look at Saturday’s opponents Watford to see why feelings of envy are bubbling up amongst our fan-base. Promoted more recently than us, the Hornets are comfortably outperforming Palace in the league, have beaten us on all three occasions we’ve met this term and are now set for a Wembley appearance, all whilst spending a significantly lower amount on transfers and wages.
Whilst football is far from a simple science, the suggestion that mere survival in the Premier League is good enough given the outlay on wages we as a club have spent over the last six years feels like excuse making. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of ambition, Steve Parish himself has previously asked supporters to heighten their expectations; now it’s up to the players and management staff to fulfil those hopes.