Football: Palace sing when they are losing

Crystal Palace 0 Leicester City 3

TO ANYONE who does not know what it is like to be a diehard football supporter the scene must have seemed surreal. Crystal Palace had just gone three goals down, their defence having disintegrated for the umpteenth time this season. On this inept display at Selhurst Park on Saturday nobody would have bet on their avoiding the indignity of becoming the first side in English professional football to go a whole season without a home win.

Some fans made quietly for the exits, but what did those remaining do? Barrack the team? Call for the manager/chairman/board of directors to be sacked? No, they sang. For the last 15 minutes the Holmesdale Road end faithful stood and chanted, cheered their team and sang their hearts out for the lads - all with hardly a hint of irony.

Maybe it was a way of letting off steam after another miserable afternoon. The more imaginative interpretation would be that it was the fans' way of expressing both their collective support - for their team and for each other - and their dismay at the way their club has been run this season.

The cynic would say that this Palace team do not deserve such supporters, but that would be too simple. While individual under-performing players have played their part in Palace's demise, evidence of the background turmoil in which they have had to play was there for all to see on Saturday.

Six weeks ago Mark Goldberg, Palace's prospective new owner, spoke to the press before a home game against Coventry (result: 0-3). He gave Steve Coppell, then the manager, and his team a friendly confidence-booster by saying that Terry Venables (whom he still apparently wants to employ as manager) was "the one man" who could turn Palace's fortunes around. On Saturday it was the turn of Ron Noades (who is still the Palace chairman) to twist the knife into Attilio Lombardo, now caretaker player-manager.

In the match programme Noades gave his views on Lombardo's team selection for the previous two games. "I was a bit disappointed that the side who played Tottenham was not the same team that had beaten Newcastle," he said. "Perhaps a few of our side would have been better suited to positions on the bench as some of them were clearly not going to be able to play 90 minutes. In a way I felt that we helped Tottenham a bit with our team selection."

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Ron. In that sort of environment it should have been no surprise that heads quickly went down after Palace went behind at the end of a first half in which they had played some decent football, though there could still be no forgiving the pitiful defending which once again cost them dear.

Leicester's second goal summed up Palace's performance at the back. Marc Edworthy failed to prevent Steve Guppy crossing from the left, Dean Gordon left Robbie Savage free to head the ball back at the far post and Emile Heskey was unmarked when he shot home from 10 yards. Heskey had beaten Valerien Ismael at the near post for Leicester's first after Edworthy had given Graham Fenton space to cross from the left, while Matt Elliott was allowed a free shot in the penalty area for the third.

Leicester, well organised, hard working and with a collective sense of purpose, are role models for all teams attempting to find their feet in Premiership football. Under Martin O'Neill's astute management everyone seems to play to his maximum potential. Although the dangerous Heskey and the impeccable Elliott were arguably their best performers here, it would have been hard to find fault with any Leicester player.

After this victory O'Neill has his sights on European competition again next season. "I believe seventh place will qualify for Europe and we can still achieve that," he said. As for Palace, the end of the season cannot come soon enough.

Goals: Heskey (44) 0-1; Heskey (60) 0-2; Elliott (74) 0-3.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Miller; Smith, Edworthy, Ismael, Gordon; Lombardo, Billio (Curcic, 55), Fullarton, Rodger; Warhurst (Bent, 75), Padovano (Dyer, 55). Substitutes not used: Hreidarsson, Nash (gk).

Leicester City (3-5-2): Keller; Prior, Elliott, Kaamark; Savage (Wilson, 81), Zagorakis (Parker, 72), Lennon, Izzet, Guppy; Heskey, Fenton (Marshall, 81). Substitutes not used: Walsh, Arphexad (gk).

Referee: A B Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Booking: Crystal Palace: Billio.

Man of the match: Elliott.

Attendance: 18,771.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border