Newcastle Welcome Weasel-Faced Spoilsport Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace
Ben Cooper gives us the lowdown on Saturday’s visitors to St.James’ Park, Crystal Palace.
Who Manages Them:
Weasel-faced spoilsport Neil Warnock took the Crystal Palace job this week, his second stint in charge at Palace and he seems genuinely pleased about it:
“It’s not often you get a chance to repay a club that’s really helped you, so it’s great to have that chance.”
He nearly returned last season after Ian Holloway left the Palace hot-seat, “before Tony came there was a possibility that he wasn’t going to and we talked then” but Pulis had a change of heart, took the job and rescued Palace with something to spare.
When the ‘Tramp in a Tracksuit’ quit post-season due to his desire to assume greater control of all fashion matters at Selhurst Park after the club had missed out on a number of key sportswear targets, Warnock jumped at the chance to once more make the Premier League less attractive.
According to previous sidekick Keith Curle there is an unseen side to Warnock, different to the side I have seen, the snarling sourpuss who prowls the touchline abusing anyone in his path and blaming everyone else for his inadequacies.
Curle reckons that:
“The thing with Neil is not what you see on the side of the pitch, it’s what he does behind the scenes. He generates the football club and gets everyone involved which can all be worth points.”
Well, it can happen, people can be different in private. Kenny Dalglish was just a wet weekend in Southport to me but people behind the scenes at NUFC reckoned he was more fun than a night in with Joey Essex and Junior Trivial Pursuit.
Who Have They Bought:
One of the reasons Pulis quit Selhurst Park was supposedly down to the lack of transfer activity in the summer. According to chairman Steve Parish, new boss Warnock has money to spend but whether he’ll get to spend it before the close of the transfer window on Monday is unknown.
Obviously Palace were never going to be able to match the £26million they spent after winning promotion in 2013 but only brining in Brede Hangeland and Chris Kettings on free transfers, million pound no-hoper Frazier Campbell and £1.5million Martin Kelly, was less investment than Pulis could stand.
Third choice keeper Kettings probably won’t be on show but the other three should play, Kelly and Hangeland in defence and Campbell up front. Journeyman ex-Mackem Campbell shouldn’t pose us any problems as he isn’t very good, making it all the more galling that he scored at SJP last season for Cardiff in our FA Cup defeat.
Hangeland has lost any pace he had but can still win everything in the air and retains the positional sense which saw him regularly linked with Champions League clubs in his pomp. Aimless balls up front won’t work, we’ll have to play on the floor to get past him when Palace drop deep and he’s always been a danger at set-pieces.
After moving to Palace from Fulham Hangeland said:
“It’s a traditional club with a big following. I thought the atmosphere here was fantastic and obviously the fans had a lot to be happy about come the end of the season.”
Presumably he wasn’t talking about Fulham there .
This week Warnock made the first signing of his reign, Wilfried Zaha returning from Manyoo on a season long loan. Zaha was Cardiff’s stand out player at SJP in May last season, which wasn’t difficult as the Taffs dribbled down the Premier League toilet but I’m surprised NUFC didn’t try to get him this week.
Maybe we did, maybe he wanted to go back to Palace, but from my sunny corner of Gallowgate when Alan Pardew says, “we only want players who are better than what we’ve got,” then in my book Zaha fits the bill and he’ll need watching closely today.
A Special Mention For:
Jason Puncheon, charged by the FA after a Twitter spat with former Palace manager Neil Warnock over a missed penalty at White Hart Lane last season. Puncheon put the penalty into the Islington Slug and Lettuce, Warnock working as a blabbermouth hanger-on in some capacity expressed his opinion, Puncheon replied, just a couple of knackers having an electro-chat in public and all fairly graceless. Saturday will tell us whether it’s all water under the bridge, or whether Puncheon is about to be sent out on loan to northern Iraq.
How Will They Do This Season:
Under Warnock, Palace will be committed, organised and joyless, though undoubtedly better than their first two results. They should find at least three teams worse than them over the 38 games but their squad looks a little short on talent and it might not be as uplifting as it was last season in South London. They have no need to panic just yet though, LMA Manager of the Year 2012 Alan Pardew has given them his backing:
“I have no worries about Palace, they will be a Premier League side next season.”
Pardew is right to have no worries about Palace, he’s got enough to worry about in Toon.
Are We Going To Win:
Palace will be a much harder opponent than they would have been a week ago but with another game under the belts of our new signings we should be better than we were in the officially “hard-working” performances of the last two weeks.
The NUFC boss has hinted that this is a must-win game for his new team and he says he knows what the fans think:
“I don’t think our fans would have expected us to win at Villa, they’d have liked us to, but they’ll expect us to win against Palace.”
So Alan, you’ve told Palace they’ll be fine, you’ve told us what we think, now all you need to do is tell the players to win.
To view all Newcastle v Crystal Palace betting click HERE (Prices can fluctuate up and down)
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]