At some point in every season most clubs have to think seriously about changing their manager, which brings us to Saturday’s Newcastle v Crystal Palace match..

Most managerial changes are fairly straightforward, caused by poor results, breakdown of relationships, change of owner, player power, or more commonly a manager thinking he was a re-incarnated Italian Fascist dictator. Something odd happened at Crystal Palace in October though,

newcastle v crystal palaceManager Ian Holloway called a press conference to say that he was just not up to the job and he wanted to give his club the chance to survive in the Premier League by replacing him with someone who could handle it all.

Today our opponents at SJP are Crystal Palace and The Mag asks: Is a change of Manager going to be enough to keep Crystal Palace in the Premier League?

Who Manages Them?

When Ian Holloway threw in the towel, Palace moved so slowly to recruit Tony Pulis we knew they had seen his teams play before. With relegation staring Palace in the face, that Pulis has never been relegated must have been the over-riding factor in his recruitment and forced them to ignore the appalling nature of the football that his teams have always played.

Pulis has had mixed success over a 22 year career, but it was only at Stoke second time around where he perfected his ‘style’ and gained continued praise from people within the game who don’t have to pay to watch it. When he left Stoke at the end of last he wasn’t out of work for long, the second Premier League job that became available this season went to him and to be fair, he has improved Palace’s points total and league position and he might just keep them up this season.

The focus of their improvement hasn’t even been to regress to a long ball game, the Tony Pulis hoofitometer hasn’t hit overdrive yet but if Palace stay up, next season Selhurst Park will be seeing the ball lumped so far into the stratosphere that Palace may have to sack Pulis in order to keep Heathrow Airport flight paths open. For now though, changing the manager is working much better at Palace than it has at Cardiff and WBA.

Who have They Signed:                               

Changing your manager mid-season is an expensive business and Palace had already spent over £20million in the summer after promotion from the Championship, with another £8million spent on players in the January window, meaning that the Londoners have outspent us by almost £50million this season.

It has been a £28million mix-up though, only 25% of the money spent was on the pitch at the start of the last game against the Mackems and more new signings didn’t feature in the match day 18 than did.

Some of the new players are injured; Chamakh won’t play, Barry Bannan (signed from Villa) may be back from injury but the majority just haven’t been deemed good enough by Pulis.

One signing who is getting a game is former Stoke player Cameron Jerome, who criticised Pulis’ lack of squad rotation at the Potters in the summer and praised Mark Hughes new regime: “There’s no guarantees [for places under Hughes] but before in the old regime, there was a guaranteed 11 who played. No matter what happened, how you trained or if you came on and did well in the games you were involved in, you were still never going to start.” Hughes obviously wasn’t as impressed with Jerome who found himself on a season long loan at Palace a couple of weeks later. Jerome had a busy summer, in August he was fined 50K and severely warned about his future conduct for breaking FA betting rules. What he bet on has never been reported but The Mag can exclusively reveal that he bets he wishes he’d kept his trap shut about Tony Pulis now.

A Special Mention For:                

Twitter. Million pound summer signing Jimmy Kebe from Reading, who is now on loan at Leeds, famously tweeted that he was signing for us only to later say that it was a joke, because he was French he just assumed that he was signing for us. Some joke that, it must have been lost in translation, though we do generally only sign French players and if we passed up the opportunity to sign a Frenchman for a million quid he must be absolutely hopeless.

January signing Jason Puncheon has had Twitter problems as well, charged by the FA after a Twitter spat with former Palace manager Neil Warnock over a missed penalty at White Hart Lane. Warnock, now working as a blabbermouth hanger-on in some capacity expressed his opinion, Puncheon replied, none of it was particularly graceful but neither was it nasty or offensive, it was just a couple of knackers having a chat in public. The FA have fined Puncheon because he “failed to act in the best interests of the game”, which may be true, but it makes me wonder why Warnock wasn’t charged with that every day he was at work at a football club and every time he opens his mouth.

How Will They Do This Season:

newcastle v crystal palace

‘Have a bet on anything but entertainment!’

After a disastrous start to the season, Palace now at least have a chance of survival, being one of ten teams who could still go down and in no better or worse position than most. Manager Pulis will play a big part in proceedings, his experience will be vital as the team itself looks short of Premier League know-how. Having a new manager isn’t all good though.

Palace haven’t scored against us in the last 6 games, have scored only 6 goals in the league this season away from Selhurst Park and only twice this year on their travels. As the Premier League’s lowest scorers they’ll need to score more goals than that if they want to stay up. Of all the qualities their new manager possesses, scoring goals isn’t one of them.

Are We going To Win:                  

After the misery of Fulham this is a must win game for NUFC. With all the talk of boycotts, cancellations of ten year season ticket deals and non-renewals of season tickets, the most important part of an NUFC experience for most fans remains the 90 minutes on the pitch.

Too often that 90 minutes is spent watching two cagey teams try not to lose a game rather than try and win it and too often more time is spent by managers on team formations rather than individual player skills.

Palace can’t score goals and with NUFC having failed to score in 8 of our last 11 games, a 0-0 draw will no doubt be the chosen punt of Cameron Jerome and Dan Gosling, and the result Tony Pulis plays for. Goals make games worth watching though. Sing the lads to victory today. Sing loud so Alan Pardew can hear us.

New issue of our magazine on sale outside St.James’ Park on Saturday before the Crystal Palace match and also available from any north east newsagents, or order from our online shop below.

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