On Saturday, I had the pleasure of standing three rows in front of an absolute moron.
If he wasn't shouting out cringeworthy and offensive references to terrorists apparently owning Manchester City, he was aggravating other Palace fans by jumping into them and hitting them in the back of their head but I'm going to concentrate on one element of his behaviour I found especially odd.
Criticism of our own players leading to xenophobic abuse of those players we were there to support is something I've personally not heard in my 21 years of watching Palace; at least, I've not been aware of it to the point it made the afternoon uncomfortable for those around the bloke blurting out this rubbish.
I actually do think that Yohan Cabaye has another 10-15% in his locker that we could really do with seeing during this tough run. That said, do I think the midfielder is a 'f****** French c***' or a 's*** French c***'?
No, no I don't.
A player's nationality, for some reason, is often used within torrents of abuse but the aggression that this guy in particular was oozing was over the top, unnecessary and judging by the vein that looked ready to pop on his neck, a health risk. Cabaye's misplacing of the pass that led to an especially unseemly outburst had nothing to do with his nationality. Whether he was born in Limoges or Luton, Cabaye should've made that six yard pass; he knew it, Pardew knew it and we knew it.
Cabaye is perhaps a little more fair game and more likely to be on the end of stick than some of our other players considering the grandeur that came with his signing and the fact it's known we're paying him so handsomely but misplacing a pass in the middle of the park happens. Players make mistakes and when a team is stuck in a rut, they happen more frequently.
In all honesty, we could have been beaten 4-0 at The Etihad having been on a run of five wins on the bounce. City, when on form, are in a different class to most other sides. On paper, Saturday’s fixture is probably the toughest we’ll have all season. If we’d lost 4-0 at Sunderland or Norwich, I’d have left the Stadium of Light or Carrow Road despondent but we didn’t. Manuel Pellegrini’s side moved the ball better than any side I’ve seen this season and in David Silva and Sergio Aguero they possess two of the best players in European football.
Ok, losing 4-0 is never great but it’s hardly the end of the world and says that a man who left Bexhill at 6.40am and returned at 11.24pm.
Expectations are at an all time high. The club is flying and have at times in the last three seasons provided the Palace faithful with memories that will last a lifetime. With an increase in expectations comes a natural frustration when the good times are halted and a side embark upon a shoddy run of form. Whatever the reasons for this dip in form, it's time for those tearing themselves apart to take a moment.
Having read through a few pages on Palace forums and seen Twitter's mild implosion in recent weeks, it's clear that some fans are becoming fed up with constant references to five years ago and being told that we should just be grateful that we have a club. I agree, five years is a long time in modern day football; our opponents last Saturday are a fine example of that.
For me, what's more pertinent is the comparison between where we are now in contrast to the same stage of the previous two seasons.
It's great to think about Palace potentially becoming a firm fixture in the Premier League's top eight in years to come but this time last season, just after Super Al took the reins, we'd all have taken scraping 17th at the end the season. Admittedly, we don't want to drop down the league too much further between now and May and undo the good work put in before Christmas but at least the club can plan ahead to the summer with a degree of certainty that Crystal Palace will be a Premier League club at the start of the following season; something they've not been able to do previously. That's progress.
Take from this piece what you will. I'm not here to tell other fans that pay their hard earned money to travel around the country following Palace how to behave but abusing our own players when they could do with our support more than at any stage during the season seems a little short sighted to me.
(Photo Credit: @hulfie)