From The Other Side - Crystal Palace
Ipswich Town host Crystal Palace this weekend with a big crowd expected at Portman Road. Ahead of the match, our colleagues at Vital Palace got in touch with us to chat about the game and the season as a whole, so we took the opportunity to pop them a few questions too. From The Other Side, here's what they had to say:
Vital Ipswich: Looks like it's been another pretty tough season for Palace. What's been your overall view of this 2010/11 campaign, and how has it contrasted with pre-season expectations?
Vital Palace: Overall view would be change and growth, both on the pitch and off. With the the manager changes before the season started and obviously the financial issues, I think many would've taken a season of consolidation and survival as in effect, we started to try and rebuild the club from the bottom upwards.
It's been a bit more frustrating that we'd have liked at points, but there's also been plenty to be hopeful about as we move forward.
Vital Ipswich: Are you optimistic of avoiding the drop this season, and if so, what are your hopes for next year?
Vital Palace: I am. We've built a nice buffer between ourselves and the bottom 3, our form at home is especially good, and our performances away have been improving and should result in enough points for us to be comfortably safe come the final whistle at the end of the season.
Next season with all the work that is going into building the club, I'd be delighted with a mid table finish. Something fans and the club can point to as a tangible improvement on the last few seasons.
To be honest we are seeing a fair bit of that this season in terms of changes on the pitch, far improved performances and players clearly battling for the cause, but obviously we'd dug a bit too deep a hole for ourselves for our performances since January to give us the league placing I'd argue we deserve. So survival at all costs, and then a comfortable mid table next season would be a just reward for the work that's gone in.
Vital Ipswich: How did you feel about the recent string of managers at Selhurst Park? Was the club right to sack George Burley, and is Dougie Freedman the right man to replace him?
Vital Palace: The manager merry-go-round has seemed tailor made for Selhurst Park since Neil Warnock walked. To have had 4 managers in two seasons isn't good for any club really, especially with the off pitch stuff the club had to deal with, but sadly yes for Burley (a manager I rated) it just wasn't working out. Losing twice as many matches as you win won't see many managers stay in their jobs long these days, but whatever he was trying to do wasn't working or wasn't accepted and something had to give.
In many ways offering the job to Freedman was quite a risky idea, but he's that loved within the fanbase you can think it was almost bound to work that he'd get us enough points to ensure survival.
He certainly motivated the players, helped lift spirits amongst the stands and he's working hard behind the scenes on various projects to help rebuild the club so I doubt there could've been a better appointment.
It'll be interesting to see what he can do in years to come.
Vital Ipswich: What's the financial situation like at the club these days? It was all looking pretty bleak when you went into administration last year, and you seemed to be under a new transfer embargo every week!
Vital Palace: We've a long way to go before we can think we are totally safe from a hiccup dramatically changing our fortunes again, but we are certainly on the right road. All profit avenues are being explored by our owners to keep steady and regular income going into the coffers, but at the same time they are working with our Supporters Trust to engage fans, for example, on the Training Ground plan that would see the club get a state of the art facility that was owned by the Trust, and rented back at favourable terms to the club. The fans get a tangible project to help the development of the club, without the club over extending itself on a project that wouldn't be viable for them at the moment.
Things like that where it's win, win for the club but also something that fans can get behind and be proud of are a delight to see.
Vital Ipswich: You've got a fair few of our old boys in your squad these days! How are they getting on? (Pablo Counago will probably be available for free in the summer, if you're interested...)
Vital Palace: Pablo would've no doubt liked a much better goal return since arriving on loan, but I don't think he's let us down in terms of work ethic or desire. Whether he's in Dougie's long term plans will remain to be seen, but we should definitely keep our hands on Darren Ambrose. He's been phenomenal for us season and no you can't have him back!
Vital Ipswich: Heh! Fair enough! I'm not sure how much attention you've been paying to events going on in Suffolk - what do you make of Ipswich, and what's been your view of all the goings-on at Portman Road this year?
Vital Palace: Keane almost made his own publicity it seemed at Ipswich, but his general return on the pitch didn't seem too bad. You were up and down and consistency seemed a problem but the change did seem strangely timed. Especially then when Jewell timed his appointment to avoid a defeat against Arsenal - yet it was probably your best performance of the season. Just glancing through your results since Keane departed you seem equally as inconsistent, so I'm not sure what you've actually gained in those regards.
Vital Ipswich: Interesting viewpoint. So which Palace players do you think Town should be keeping an eye on this Saturday? Any of the ex-Blues, perhaps?
Vital Palace: Ambrose for definite, then the obvious picks would be Neil Danns and James Vaughan. Any of the three are capable of taking the game to you and securing us the points.
Vital Ipswich: Is there anyone you admire on the Ipswich team? We heard you were trying to buy Norris and Delaney back in January...!
Vital Palace: I'd take Connor Wickham without a shadow of a doubt. Hugely talented youngster who is destined for the Premier League I think. Don't think I'd mind Norris or Delaney added to our squad either. With respect to swopping players, it's rumoured you're back in after Wright as well.
Vital Ipswich: Indeed - rumoured, but then denied by both managers! Anyway, what sort of match are you expecting on Saturday? Is this a must-win game for Palace, or are home fixtures likely to be the priority?
Vital Palace: Home fixtures will definitely be the priority given our home form, but our away performances have been improving and picking up points on our travels now will make life far easier and more comfortable for us, so we certainly won't be writing them off and we will be going for points.
It'll be tight I think, but Ambrose has talked about the mood of the camp being that they want to secure our survival by Scunny, so picking up 3 points against you won't be sniffed at.
Vital Ipswich: Neck on the line time! What's the score going to be?
Vital Palace: 2-1 to us, we need the points more than you do!
Our thanks go to the chaps at Vital Palace for offering to take part in this feature. Here's hoping for a good game on Saturday! And don't forget you can catch the Vital Ipswich half of 'From The Other Side' over on the Vital Palace website.
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