26 October 2012

DOUGIE: THE FREED MAN

In terms of results, it has been another disappointing week for Albion. But it could have been a whole lot worse. A few miles up the A23, it has been hideous. So terrible, in fact, that we thought it worth TSLR exploring further. Dougie Freedman’s (pictured above, kissing goodbye to his favourite player) move to Bolton looks on the face of it a strange decision. With the Selhurstites sitting fourth in the table after a corking run of form and Bolton languishing in 16th, it appears a backward step for Freedman. But in reality it isn’t - the Trotters are only six points behind Palace (it’s still relatively early season), are receiving comfortable parachute payments from the Prem and Palace must still have financial issues their early season form has kept hidden from view.

One of the truly surprising elements of this departure was that Freedman had only six months to run on his contract. For a team that has consistently sold its best players throughout the Dougie reign, even the most blue and white of us have to admit he has done a very decent job. So for Steve Parish and Crystal Palace to only have him signed up for half a year doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’m missing something here but it doesn’t say a lot for their financial outlook if they can’t even lock down a manager who gets the best out of what he’s got. TSLR Towers can only imagine that Parish told Freedman how further players will have to be sold in January. Which can only be good news ahead of our 16 March 2013 match at Falmer where last season’s wrongs will have to righted.

On Tuesday I couldn’t help but find myself feeling sorry for the evil red and blue shirted monsters. Don’t worry, I was still laughing. But the 21st century British football machine doesn’t allow clubs like ours to retain their best staff in order to make an honest push for success. These days, we’re aware of the Albion’s wealth but - as shown by the sales of Elliott Bennett and Craig Noone - we’re still, ultimately, a feeder club. It’s getting better for us thanks to one man (a dangerous game in itself), but we’re still finding that every player has a price. Up at Selhurst, it’s far worse. Servicing a stadia suited to the 1970s such as theirs is another unnecessary expense for a club that’s never financially recovered from the ill-managed Simon Jordon era. I sometimes despise watching Wigan on Match of the Day - their litany of former Palace players is enough to turn the stomach. But the fact Palace have always had to sell is a tough reality of (largely) Second Tier life that made me uncomfortably sympathetic.

There was one blog post I read from the Palace fanzine, Five Year Plan (they guest edited a TSLR back in 2009, The Seaweed Love Review) with a headline that read: “Losing Freedman was like being left by a lover.” That, I thought, was exactly how I felt when we lost Micky Adams I to Tuesday’s Albion opponents. I felt it when Bobby went to Tottenham; Elliott and Crofts to Norwich; maybe not Noone to Cardiff but you get the point. All this empathy got me to thinking - had we been fourth, would Bolton have been interested in Gus. Possibly - I mean the attraction of hiring a decent manager with only a six month contract to buy him out of was obviously too good to miss. Tony Bloom would ensure that Poyet has a lengthy contract but every member of staff has their price. And Bolton found Dougie’s.

To be honest, by the time we’d lost at Leicester my sympathy for Palace had dispersed and I empathised more with contributor Carter's attitude to Selhurst colleagues (pictured above). I pitied myself en route home  for going to Leicester in the first place as we giggled over the anticipated slump in Palace’s form. If they get Steve Coppell back, the solar system will have realigned - our insistence on continuing the element of Coppell’s supposed illness through song, even when he was our own manager, will have been vindicated. By this morning, I was sufficiently de-sympatheticised to thoroughly enjoy listening to the pain and despair of those who created the FYP podcast titled: “Why, Dougie, Why?”

Ah, my hatred is back, see you on December 1st. Dare I say it, I'm glad all over.

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