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From The Stands

19 October 2016

By Simon Mills

If you could write a script for a miserable night last Saturday it would have gone an awful lot like that game actually did! The rain lashing down, wind blowing, a horrible penalty miss and to lose to your London rivals 1-0 despite them having a player sent off…

It was one of those days at the office that you really want to forget and hopefully that’s exactly what we can do this weekend when we take on the current champions, Leicester City.

That still doesn’t seem real does it? Leicester City – Premier League Champions. It’s as if someone up there actually decided to play a season of career mode on FIFA, but using real life to do it. I always wondered, as I played out that scenario, what the 
reaction would be to such a massive shock and something that seemed so unrealistic actually happening, now we all know!

Everything had to go right for the Foxes last year to achieve what seemed to be impossible. Early season comebacks, hardly a single injury, lack of suspensions (until they were crossing the line at least) and pure simple luck all seemed to be very much on their side. Add in a ridiculous run of form for the players in their squad and some incredible talent they acquired in the likes of Kante and Mahrez and the stars perfectly aligned for a season like no other. 

The arrival of Claudio Ranieri was another major factor, he seemed to fit the club like a glove and his tactics were absolutely spot on to get the very best from the players he had.

Everyone loves an underdog, Leicester had nearly every club in the country rooting for their success and even some Tottenham fans I spoke to found it difficult to begrudge them being denied their first Premier League title! It has given hope to every club that they can achieve something equally amazing. There is a reason the bookies no longer offer odds in the thousands for even the promoted teams to win the league anymore.

With all that said, I don’t think too many would argue that what happened last year is easily repeatable. Despite the odds of a repeat being slashed, I would in fact argue they should have been lengthened! After all, what price would have been offered for back-to-back titles for any of the teams outside that expected top 6/7 before last season?

Supporters would do well to consider that, before assuming that their club should automatically be looking to move another level up the table simply as a result of what Leicester achieved. What after all, would be considered a success this year for Palace? Perhaps we should take a page out of Claudio’s book, first and foremost, and get the points to survive. 

That must always be target number one, it really wasn’t that long ago we were struggling along, week after week in the Championship and, for all the criticisms many have of the Premier League, I would far rather stay here! Then we can look beyond that. Realistically, I would love us to be looking at the top ten and with that if we can put ourselves on a nice run, then that is the time you can start dreaming of some kind of European football.

With Leicester everything seemed to happen very quickly, they just survived and then in the space of a few short months they were top of the league. At Palace we are in for the long haul, building gradually with each window as we go - attempting to better ourselves every year. It may not be as exciting as the crash, bang, wallop season that this weekend’s opponents enjoyed – but in the long term it is more sustainable and, for that reason, there’s a far greater chance of such success being repeated.

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