Palace always seem to struggle against Newcastle, and with that in mind Jack Thurston has a suggestion for a change of tactics at St James’ Park tomorrow…
With the trip to St. James’ Park this weekend, eyes will be firmly fixed on a returning hero. Wilfried Zaha, a man who ‘single-handedly fired Palace to Wembley’, will no doubt be looking to rekindle the understanding he built up with Yannick Bolasie. So where does this leave Barry Bannan? Pessimists will argue Bannan will be restricted to substitute appearances once again, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
It is widely recognised that Palace seldom do well against Newcastle, and this sense of inevitability should prompt a more fearless approach on Saturday. It is almost guaranteed that barring injury, Bolasie and Zaha will both feature from the start, but after being the best Palace player on the pitch against West Ham, why not play Bannan too?
For all intents and purposes, Barry Bannan has spent most of his sporadic first team performances as a wide midfielder, getting chalk on his boots. The idea of Bannan plying his trade more centrally, ahead of Jedinak and Ledley, has its merits.
“A midfield triumvirate spearheaded by a winger?”
Palace fans will do well to remember that in his earlier days, he was deployed as a central midfielder. As a counter-attacking outfit in this division, it is reluctantly accepted that even against teams like Stoke, West Ham and Villa, we will not spend a great deal of time camped in the opposition’s half. As a wide player, Bannan is not blessed with searing pace that would befit such an approach – an approach that paid dividends in the dying minutes of last season’s comeback against Liverpool, where Bolasie showed just how defensively culpable Glen Johnson is.
The Scot does however pose a threat with his sixpence-turns, and ball retention under pressure. These traits plotted through the middle, would give Jedinak and Ledley a far simpler outlet when breaking play up in the middle of the park, and may stop the same old retort of:
“If Jedinak could pass a ball, he’d play at a higher level.”
All this will be irrelevant if Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace is anything like Neil Warnock’s Leeds United – bereft of self-belief or inspiration. So here lies a ‘Plan B’ for you all to ponder. In the words of the ageing Yorkshireman, here’s to ‘giving it a real good go’ this weekend.
You may laugh, you may call it insane. But remember, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.