Has the Allardyce gamble paid off?
Frank Monkhouse | 11 April 2017
Sam planning for the future at Selhurst Park
In February Crystal Palace were a Championship club in-waiting. A record of five wins, four draws and no less than 16 defeats had them in a whole heap of trouble. The Big Sam gamble had back-fired – and at great cost.
Fast-forward six weeks on from that spirit crushing 1-0 loss to Stoke and The Eagles are soaring up through the rankings, thanks to a stunning three-match winning run. Up against it vs fellow strugglers Middlesbrough – they passed the test with flying colours, taking a vital three points thanks to a van Aanholt winner.
Palace upsetting the odds
Next they didn’t have a chance against high-flying West Brom – they upset the odds with an eye-catching 2-0 cheer at the Hawthorns, Zaha and Townsend the scorers. Getting ideas above their station, Palace would be surely cut down by London rivals Watford – wrong again, hard-fought 1-0 win, with Hornets hero Deeney scoring at the wrong end.
Three matches – nine points – four clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand. The numbers add up. Big Sam beamed at the conclusion of that win over Watford – the England fiasco now a distant memory – telling the media, fans, and anyone else who would listen, that his team of battlers are getting there.
Allardyce building from the back
The experienced gaffer picked out the changes made in the club’s backroom staff as the main difference, and now the new faces had settled in and got through a difficult festive period, they are beginning to work their magic. Allardyce also reserved special praise for his defence, saying they looked solid, had cut out stupid errors and stopped conceding the silly goals that had cost them for much of last year.
His side have now won four of their last six, also getting the better of Bournemouth at the end of January. The gaffer may well be onto something with that defensive unit too, with each of those wins coming without conceding a goal. They have picked up more points in their last six games than the likes of Leicester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Southampton, all teams higher in the pecking order.
Relegation betting has Eagles safe
So, with solid foundations laid, belief back in the squad and a winning run to protect – has the Allardyce gamble paid off? It’s still too early to judge that one, but he’s certainly taken the club forward, slowly but surely laying long-term plans. More importantly, will they avoid relegation? Coral traders certainly think so, with that winning run putting them in a great position.
Punters will find Crystal Palace at 3/1 with us to be relegated, which makes them fifth-favourite in a market headed by Sunderland, who are nailed-on at 1/20. Boro are currently 1/4, and things aren’t looking promising at Hull either, 1/2 offered on The Tigers.