Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Training Ground Reopens

After a rather longer than expected break from the keyboard, I'm finally back from skiing and a whole host of other events in what's been a bit of a frenetic month.

If it's not stating the completely obvious, there's one thing that's hit me since I've been back – our transition from a side with a mathematical hope of automatic promotion to one now praying for nothing short of a miracle for a play-off place.

When I left home for the peaceful retreat of the Alps we were looking to cement an extended season by picking up at least one win against Ipswich or West Brom. However, the reality is that we've gifted 3 of our promotion rivals with an unforgivable tally of 7 points in the last few games.

The win against Plymouth the other week could have started a revival of our play-off hopes, but if we're to be honest with ourselves our season was practically dead and buried when Wolves put in that decisive third goal at The Valley in injury time.

Our only hope in the run-in was 12 points from 4 games and to hope that Palace and Wolves slipped up, but the poor show against lowly Southampton on Saturday merely underlined what a disappointment this season has now become.

The south coast side should have been there for the taking, and in fairness never really looked like posing a big threat on the Charlton goal. However, a midfield clearly lacking creativity simply couldn't find a way of finding the opportunities they so desperately needed.

Only Pardew can explain the reasoning for playing both Holland and Semedo, who are far too similar and lack a killer pass or shot. The decision to bring on Gray rather than Varney was also a puzzling one – despite Gray scoring, the pace of Varney would have put far more pressure on a Saints defence bereft of pace and more than happy to cope with the ball in the air.

At the time of writing West Brom have just taken the lead at Moleneux, but it's all too late now. The maximum tally for us is now 70 points, and unless Palace only win once and Ipswich and Wolves also slip up, it's simply not enough.

I'll still be at Loftus Road on Saturday – the games may not have finished yet, but sadly it'll take more than a binding performance in front of the Sellotape End to repair our tattered season.