Perception Is A Funny Thing
Football is a game which is all about perception, opinions and beliefs. Sometimes they are biased in favour of or against certain individuals. Some players can do no right and some can do no wrong. But facts are facts.
Ask the average Palace fan this morning if this season has been a success and you’ll probably be told that it was because we managed to avoid relegation to the second tier of English football.
But that’s the funny thing. This season was less successful than last season, even with removing the FA Cup Final appearance from the equation.
Here are the two seasons side by side.
Okay, so we finished one place above where we ended up last season but last season we finished the season with one more point and lose 3 less games in the process.
What is the real reason this season feels like a success, relatively speaking, while last season felt like a complete failure?
Maybe our position after 19 games can shed more light on the situation?
*Before the half way point we spent 6 weeks in the top 6.
**After the half way point we spent 5 weeks in the bottom 3.
This season, much like the 2013/2014 and the 2014/2015 seasons, saw up picking up in the second half of the season after a terrible first half resulting in us staying in the Premier League.
Having a rousing come back, seemingly against the odds, makes you feel like you have achieved something, escaped from something and brings a feeling of positive relief.
Compare that to last season where we were dropping like a stone. In the end we avoided relegation but the feeling of relief wasn’t a positive one.
It’s like the feeling of relief you feel when managing to out run a murderer. You feel elation at what you achieved. Compare that to running away from a murderer, falling over through exhaustion and waiting for your fete to be sealed only for only for the murderer to slip in a dog turd and knock himself out.
In both cases the feeling is of relief but relief coupled with the feeling of achievement is much higher than the feeling of relief coupled with feeling pleased at the other parties failings.
I’m not sure my analogy was the best but I’m sure you understand what I mean? For three seasons we got ourselves out of a mess through our own means, playing ability and hard work. Last season we got out of a mess through good fortune that we’d built up a bank of points.
We were told the cup run was a distraction. I completely refuse to believe that, a team in our position should be able to compete on two fronts and that was nothing more than a smokescreen to disguise the abject failure on the field in league games.
To push my theory a little further I’ll talk about Arsenal. Their season has been seen as an abject failure. Their fans are revolting, they are absolutely disgusting!
That aside they are moaning like a moaning thing but they missed out on 4th place by 1 point. They are in an FA Cup final (maybe they couldn’t concentrate on the league at the same time?) so had they drawn their match with us instead of losing 3-0 they would have taken 4th from Liverpool on goal difference.
Would that have been viewed as a success in north London? To have won 4th place on the last day of the season and have a cup final to look forward to? It probably would.
And there in lies the problem. The final position isn’t the be all and end all of a season, certainly not for clubs like ours, it is the journey. It’s the difference between the relief of climbing out of a burning pit and the relief of avoiding falling into it. We don’t seem to handle not being the underdogs.
My final analogy is an interesting one. I heard the question posed on a podcast last week and it is this. Who has had the more successful season? Tottenham or Manchester United?
Tottenham finished 2nd in the league, played some great football and is seen by many as the best team this season. However, Manchester United won the League Cup and might win the Europa League on Wednesday.
How should we judge success? A team with two cups should be considered to have had a more successful season than a team with no cups.
Manchester United lost only one more game than Tottenham but Spurs won eight more games. Manchester United conceded just 3 more goals than Tottenham however Spurs scored 32 more goals.
They say cups are for show but league form for class. Who says? Well, I do. Anyone can win a cup if they string 6 good results together but to finish 2nd in the league is the proof of a good team.
Compare our team in 1989/90 season to the one that finished 3rd in 1990/91. Which was the bigger achievement?
So, as we go into the summer months waiting in excited anticipation over who we’ll sign, and who we’ll get rid of, think of this. None of the last 4 seasons have been a success in anything other than staying in the Premier League.
Pardew had his failings and I am pleased he is gone but he managed to keep us in the Premier League twice. Once by good management and once despite poor management.
The perception, however, is that he was a failure. If staying in the Premier League is the yardstick for success then surely his time at the club has to be viewed as a success along with our last 4 seasons?
You’ll have your own view because perception is a funny thing!