It certainly has been a week for Crystal Palace fans to forget. After a Halloween horror show at Swansea, which leaves the Eagles struggling at the bottom of the table, George Burley got a confidence-boosting backing from the board.
Reports suggest that Alan Pardew was in line to replace Burley just three months into the job. But Steve Parish told the South London Press: "There is absolutely no truth in the story. I've never met or spoke to Alan Pardew."
This will provide a boost for Burley, although he will need to start producing some results on the field otherwise I feel the board will have no choice but to replace him.
Goals from Scott Sinclair, Darren Pratley and Joe Allen left Brendan Rodgers' side four points outside the automatic promotion places in third, and six behind their Welsh rivals Cardiff who moved to the summit with victory over Norwich.
By contrast Palace have won just once in their last seven league games, which confirmed their worst start to a season for a decade and leaves them routed to the bottom of the Championship.
This season has been frustrating for Palace fans, as a new look side has played good football and still come away empty handed.. Palace find themselves on 11 points, but that tally could be so much higher if they could deal with the two major problems that face them week in, week out.
Problem number one is their lack of goals. With the departure of Alan Lee in the summer, Palace were left short in the striker department. Enter George Burley with a number of inspired loan signings.
In came Jonathan Obika from Tottenham, Pablo Counago from Ipswich and James Vaughan from Everton. Now, whilst Vaughan has proved a good signing with four goals, the other two have proved majorly disappointing. Obika has failed to score and has failed to even earn a regular spot in a struggling side, whilst Counago has had playing time but hasn't even looked like scoring.
This results in Palace often dominating matches, but failing to score when on top. Secondly is Palace's leaky defence. Palace have one of the worst defensive records in the Championship. Again Burley made numerous loan signings over the summer to improve the Eagles back-line. In came Julian Bennett from Nottingham Forest and Anthony Gardner from Hull City, as well as Adam Barrett from Southend and David Wright on permanent deals.
The concern is that Julian Speroni has been our best player this season. Yes, he is our goalkeeper and yes we are bottom of the Championship. Burley managed to convince Nathaniel Clyne to resist a Premier League move in the summer and he has been the only consistent defender this season. The biggest problem is that we seem to have a different back four every match, as Burley seems to have not found his best rear guard.
He really needs to sort it out, because if we can start to shut teams out as we have done in the past couple of seasons then I have no doubt that we can start to climb up the table. Another problem is that it seems inevitable we will lose Speroni in the January transfer window.
Now for some good news. Influential midfielder Darren Ambrose returned to the Palace squad for the first time since picking up a foot injury in August and was named among the substitutes. He came on for 20 minutes and should be available from the start for the next game. I don't need to tell Crystal Palace fans about his importance to the team. Hope he can add some much needed firepower to the Palace cause.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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