Ben Mountain looks for the hope amid the understandable concern at current form.
Every single one of us can recite the figure by now: seven games, seven losses, zero goals. That was how things looked for Crystal Palace almost exactly this time last year.
It was a point of utter desperation, a point with no hope and a point, ironically, without a single point. We then beat Chelsea, of all teams Chelsea. The euphoria after that game reminded the country what it meant to be a Palace fan: when we’re down and out, we fight back and we do so with roaring passion.
Later that season, we faced another steep uphill battle as a full starting 11 of players lined the Palace sick-bay, seasoned stalwarts all befallen by injury and unable to support the campaign but in spirit. Roy Hodgson himself said that, “[in this country] I’ve never experienced an injury crisis like this." It was truly a time when Palace looked defeated but, more like the phoenix than the eagle, rose from the ashes to fly, victoriously, ending the season at the lofty perch of 11th.
There’s been more, of course, and most Eagles won’t need us to lay out the times when all was seemingly lost but, as we do so well, we’ve come out fighting, refusing to be defeated by circumstance or the odds.
Anyone who remembers the Lloyds Bank demonstration in 2010 will surely understand best.
But the past isn’t what matters now and, on Saturday against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Selhurst Park was a limp, crestfallen theatre for a play nobody wanted to watch. Dramatic as it sounds, that’s not the Palace way.
When, for example, a rampaging Liverpool carried a three-goal lead over a comparatively weak Palace side back in 2013, Selhurst Park didn’t bemoan the squad or cheer off players. Fans didn’t hang their head or lambaste the score. Instead, we all bound together with an almost mordant shred of hope uniting fans to get behind the team.
It was an example of when the ‘twelfth man’ really did come into affect and the result yielded one of the greatest nights seen at Selhurst this millennium.
Because when all’s lost and there’s not one prayer left for Crystal Palace, we excel. With grit, determination and not a small shred of plucky modesty, we come out fighting just when most would give up.
Right now, things aren’t nearly as bad as they have been before. Our record this year isn’t pretty, but after seven games it made for far better reading than the aforementioned drought. As things stand, we currently have two wins and a draw from eight games, having netted five times. We’re not facing dissolution and we’ve got a squad and manager built for this kind of challenge.
Yes, the performances have been frustrating and every fan has the inalienable right to vent their vexations, but we’re Palace and dropping our heads isn’t what we do.
In the league, these are our next five games: Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Clearly, wringing out points from these five games will be like getting blood from a stone but when has that ever stopped us from trying?
It’s time to do what we do best. We’re Crystal Palace, an unashamedly plucky club who never let things happen easily. We’re all used to toil and used to sh*t hitting the proverbial fan. But it’s been far worse.
There’s nothing to lose for the next few weeks and so, of course, we’re going to go out for everything to win. It’s the Palace way and we’ve all been there for every step of it.
Let’s help the club to do what it does best and get behind the boys. Time and again they might let us down, but it’s our job not to do likewise. After the international break, we’ll be facing yet another impossibly steep uphill battle. But how else would we want it?
Editors Note: Ben is moving on from writing for FYP to take up a very exciting opportunity. We'd like to thank him for his excellent contributions over the past few months and wish him all the luck in the world in his next venture!