Football: We're sinking fast but whose hand is on the tiller?

FAN'S EYE VIEW NO 244 Crystal Palace

WE'RE a tolerant lot down at Selhurst Park. What other supporters would accept the worst home record in the country with hardly a murmur of protest?

Crystal Palace are on course to become the first club in the history of the professional game in England to go a whole season without a home league win, yet even during Monday's abysmal 3-0 defeat by Wimbledon the only public expressions of discontent were a brief chorus of "what a load of rubbish" and, at the end, some booing and jeers, directed mainly at Steve Coppell, the manager.

Perhaps it's because we've been here before, as we contemplate our third relegation from the top flight in five years. In particular, this has unpleasant echoes of three seasons ago, when Alan Smith's collection of talented youngsters - it's still painful to imagine how a team including Southgate, Martyn, Armstrong, Coleman, Shaw and Salako could have been relegated - went down after a season poisoned by the manager's disintegrating relationship with his chairman, Ron Noades.

Ah yes, Big Ron. This time around the question is not so much his dealings with the manager - Coppell and Noades have worked successfully together for many years - but how the two men (Coppell in particular) will fit in with Mark Goldberg, the moneybags fan who hopes to complete his pounds 27m purchase of the club from Noades later this month.

When he apparently financed the purchase of Attilio Lombardo last year, Goldberg was hailed as our answer to Jack Walker. Recent weeks have made some of us not so sure.

Reports that Goldberg may want to move Coppell upstairs and replace him with either Gerry Francis or Terry Venables (no thank you) must have unsettled the team, despite the loyal Coppell's refusal in this week's club programme to blame the side's form on speculation surrounding the future of the club.

Coppell's notes - "This is probably my last chance, and one of the few occasions, to speak about the takeover at Palace" - read depressingly like a valediction, though it is hard to believe he does not have the backing of Noades, who, it seems, would continue to run the club on a day-to-day basis if Goldberg's takeover goes through.

While few would deny Goldberg's right eventually to appoint the manager he wants, this is surely not the time to rock the boat. Right now - with more than a third of the season left and our Premiership future there to be secured or lost - he should be giving unconditional backing to the most successful manager in the club's history, the man who returned to take over a floundering team a year ago and won us promotion, the man who inspired memorable victories at Everton, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham earlier in the season.

The fact is that Coppell's plans have been wrecked by an appalling catalogue of injuries, although this should hardly have come as a complete surprise after the club started investing heavily in ageing and injury-prone players.

Although we had little time to strengthen the squad after securing promotion via the play-offs last summer and the departure of David Hopkin was a cruel blow, our activity in the transfer market has been bewildering.

Since last summer we have signed only one player who had any previous Premiership experience, Paul Warhurst, who is currently injured (enough said). Apart from him, a staggering sum of around pounds 12m has been spent on other players who had never played in the Premiership: Valerien Ismael, Yitzhak Zohar, Lombardo, Michele Padovano, Kevin Miller, Neil Emblen, Jamie Smith, Herman Hreidarrson, Marcus Bent and Matt Jansen.

Lombardo looked good when fit and Hreidarsson has settled in well, but of the rest the best that can be said is that the jury is still out.

Zohar was so useless that the club released him after buying him for pounds 1.2m less than six months earlier, while Ismael, a club record pounds 2.75m purchase from Strasbourg (struggling at the bottom of the French First Division), was substituted after his woeful "defending" led to all three of Wimbledon's goals on Monday. Emblen, a pounds 2m purchase from Wolves, seems to get into the team only when Coppell has run out of all other options.

The likes of Danny Wilson at Barnsley must be shaking their heads and wondering what they might have done given half the money Palace have spent on players. The supporters, meanwhile, are looking for answers to a number of questions.

Have all this season's new arrivals been bought at the instigation (or even with the approval) of Coppell? When asked recently if he had been trying to buy two particular players (one of whom, Jansen, signed this week) he suggested the question should be addressed to Noades.

Has Big Ron (who, to be fair, knows more about the game than the vast majority of chairmen) gone on a final spending spree, expecting that someone else will eventually pick up the tab?

Has Goldberg - perhaps having decided that if it is going to be his money he might as well buy players he likes - been playing the ultimate game of fantasy football?

Or have Noades and Goldberg been working together, on the basis that they are a better judge of player than a man who played 42 times for England and has been in management for more than 10 years?

Answers on a postcard please to CPFC, c/o the Nationwide League.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power