It would be a mightily difficult task for even the most optimistic of Palace fans to look back upon yesterday’s performance against Sheffield United and find anything positive to take from it and quite rightly, manager Roy Hodgson pulled no punches in his post-match analysis at Bramall Lane.
After an opening 45 minutes in which the Eagles were passable if not impressive, the second period saw the players perform pathetically, falling behind to a goal shortly after the break and failing to even come remotely close to levelling the scores in the time which remained.
More often than not, Roy Hodgson can be relied upon to put a level-headed spin on things but even he was forced to admit following the full-time whistle, that his players had failed to perform to anything like the standard necessary in the second half. With Manchester United up next, Palace look set to get off to another painfully slow start in the Premier League and with the Wilfried Zaha conundrum continuing to hang over the club like a dark cloud, it’s difficult to see how we can go forward in a united and harmonious manner either on or off the field.
In a side such as ours, the use of a player like Zaha will always draw the attention of opposition defenders and on a day when he was double and often triple marked by Blades players, we predictably lacked any other route to goal, isolating Benteke up front and rendering the rest of our midfield somewhat useless. It’s a situation we’ll have to work extremely hard on in the next few days but after 180 minutes of Premier League football without coming close to scoring, I don’t think anyone could be blamed for feeling concerned over what the immediate future holds for this group of players.