Well, the BBC highlights of Tuesday night are now available and some things are clear. First, I should have given Elliot an even better mark than 8/10; somehow I seem to forget opposition attempts on goal. Second, while we know the full explanation for the goal that wasn’t, I think we can quietly forget the idea that we stopped playing when the ref blew his whistle. Dailly does put a hand up to claim for offside – and he may have helped to encourage the ref to blow (extra mark there as well; who says play to the whistle as refs are never influenced?) – but he wasn’t going to get to their guy. And I don’t think Elliot gave up on the shot because of the whistle; his first reaction is to pick the ball out of the net and to get on with things.
So it goes down as a dreadful mistake by the ref and him alone. One compounded by trying to get away with it by giving the goal, only to have to be told what the rules are. As others have commented, the reaction of the Colchester manager and players does them credit; in fact I think both teams deserve credit after an incident like that as it could easily have spilled over (if Man Utd or Arsenal had been involved I’m sure things would have got out of hand on the pitch). Let’s even give the ref a little credit for not trying to balance things up by giving them a soft penalty (and he had the chance to). I think we’ll all support the inquiry into the incident – just so long as there’s no suggestion of a replay (which there won’t be; if we start replaying games because of a ref’s howler seasons will never end).
Onwards and if not immediately upwards (due to the other results on the night) we are feeling a good deal happier than either side of the Swindon game. No imposition on us of Wise, a manager we all respect and like (all of which has at least in my book greatly eased doubts about the new owners), two home wins and two clean sheets – and saints preserve us we’ve even now got a positive home goal difference. But after the aborted Rochdale trip and with my usual Amsterdam trip starting Monday, a trip to Yeovil on Saturday isn’t possible for me (although no doubt the necessary work on Saturday afternoon will be shelved by staying glued to the scores updates). Instead the next task is to get back on Wednesday evening in time for the Slater & Powell Q&A. Ticket for that has arrived and with luck I’ll land at City Airport on time (18.20), get home to dump bags and make it back out to The Valley before 20.00 (failing that I might have to go straight there suited and booted).
No doubt Sir Chris will be asked to expand further on whether he’s too nice to be a successful manager (even the BBC site has taken up the theme). It’s nonsense. There is no one successful style of management, in football or anything else. I’ve tended to view myself through the years as a decent enough bloke, but I never worried or lost sleep about sacking people (of course, others may suggest that this is evidence enough that I am in reality a complete bstard). If you’re clear on the reasons and are going to make such a change, and do it fairly, in my book it’s self-indulgence to pretend to go through the agonies. Nobody in their right mind enjoys doing it, but it doesn’t exactly help the person on the receiving end (no, it doesn’t hurt you more than it hurts them). Rather the danger (I believe) is that people keep going on about how nice he is and that plants seeds of doubt. There’s never been a shortage of indecisive people who under pressure make all sorts of ‘decisions’ to try to prove that they are nothing of the sort, or ‘nice guys’ who over-react because they start to feel that they’re being taken advantage of. I have no doubt that Powell is intelligent and experienced enough to know that consistency is far more important. There will be times for rants, but rants for good reason (when players are doing what’s asked of them). If being nice means people are inclined to work harder for you, use it.
I’ve no idea what further changes to the squad may come as a result of the opening of the loan window. I think it’s fair to say that with Sodje exiting but Eccleston and Wright-Phillips coming in no new forwards will be added, and if Fry’s loan is extended to the end of the season (as has been indicated) it would be surprising if another defender was introduced following the addition of Bessone.(By the way, I might have missed something but is Fortune staying? I thought his deal only lasted until January.) Although Martin has gone, with Wagstaff, Jackson and Reid we aren’t too stretched in that department (especially if McCormack can fill in again if necessary and the reserves guy is ready to step up). The area that still worries me is central midfield. All season we’ve operated with two from three (Racon, Semedo, McCormack). I guess Jackson could do a job there, but with injuries and suspensions likely to take their toll – and the games are going to come thick and fast – it’s a risk.
What am I talking about? The way things have gone so far under Powell we could put out the academy team and not get beat (or concede a goal). Long may it continue.
Finally, I’ve never felt comfortable with the song about ‘they’re turning Selhurst Park into a public lavatory’. It always has been, and will remain, a public lavatory. I swore I’d never go back there, but if they need volunteers with picks and shovels to help demolish it, I’m available. A copy of The Mercury came through the letterbox today. The letters page has a headline ‘Palace will always be a thing of beauty’. Well, they say it’s all in the eye of the beholder, but you’d have to be a pretty daft beholder to agree.