Though just about any Crystal Palace fan expects a rebuilding season this year, it is safe to say things have started poorly. The league campaign is yet to truly start firing, with a draw so far and a pretty comfortable defeat to Chelsea in the bank. A lack of attacking play has been disappointing, while various new signings have yet to really make the impact that fans would have hoped for or perhaps even expected. The most recent game, though, a League Cup defeat to Watford, has some fans especially concerned.
Palace looked blunt all night before falling to an Ashley Fletcher goal in the 86th minute. Set up with ease, the forward finished comfortably and, in truth, it was not what Watford deserved. Palace had dominated much of the game and were impressive in an attacking sense, with Jean-Philippe Mateta having two attempts in the first half saved with ease. However, saves from Christian Benteke and a glaring miss from Cheikhou Kouyate were further proof of how profligate Palace have looked so far this season.
The team took an impressive 22 shots in the League Cup exit as well as the first two league games. However, they have the target only five times. Given the standard of keepers at the Premier League level, it is not enough to be hitting the target less than a quarter of the time. This is simply not going to cut it if this is the level of profligate finishing that fans can expect.
And while some Eagles fans are just happy to see a more attacking outfit on the pitch, there are serious concerns about how long they can keep this up. Before long, regularly missing chances and conceding with ease can drain confidence.
Can Palace turn things around in time?
The worry is that another few results like this and fans might be worrying about a repeat of the Frank de Boer era. However, when the Dutchman was sacked so early into his Palace tenure, it made sense as Croydon-born local boy and Premier League stalwart Roy Hodson was available. Having already worked their way through most of the relegation firefighters, who is left to turn to if things continue to sour quickly?
This is a problem for Palace, as they have invested heavily into Vieira and his playing needs. If they fail to see fast results, it will be hard to find another coach to come in and offer a credible chance of turning things around. The club already struggled to hire a more progressive name in the summer, eventually landing on Vieira after a few other names rejected the club.
Therefore, this has to work for the season. A slow start cannot be seen as permanent, and there has to be time provided to Vieira and co. to get things moving in the right direction. If goals don’t start flying in soon, though, it could create a vicious cycle that dents confidence to extremely hard to recover levels.