The Opposition View: Crystal Palace

Last updated : 22 February 2011 By Jim Bonner

Palace fan Phil Duffield answers my questions ahead of the big clash at Fratton Park.

Do you think that George Burley deserved to be sacked and what did you make of the appointment of Dougie Freedman?

I think on balance yes. Whilst our league position was undeniably poor, I wouldn't have been averse to giving him more time but for the sheer number of times we ended up on the wrong end of a 3/4 goal deficit, particularly on the road.

I wasn't overly sure about the appointment of Dougie and would have preferred a proven lower league manager, but nobody has more passion for Palace and in terms of pure results he's probably done about as well as could have been realistically expected.

Palace seem to have improved since Freedman took over, what has he done to improve results?

He's focused more on the basics, which often seemed to escape Burley, and tried to make us more difficult to beat. The football hasn't been anywhere near as flamboyant as it was at the start of the season and he's tended to play Vaughan alone up front, but it has allowed us to sneak some wins at home and made a bit of headway.

After beating Sheffield United on Saturday how confident are you that Palace will avoid relegation?

I am in two minds. We're in a much better position to do so now and there is certainly enough quality in the squad to see us safe, but our away form is still a huge concern. Unless we can start picking up some points on the road then we'll never be able to make a great deal of headway.

Earlier in the season you named Darren Ambrose and Julian Speroni as your key players. Has anyone else stepped up to the plate as the season has progressed?

Vaughan has become increasingly important as our main goalscoring threat, but Ambrose and Speroni really are key and the former's absence played a big part in our patchy form earlier in the season.

Is the lack of a goalscorer still the main concern going into the final stage of the season? James Vaughan gave us a torrid time at Selhurst Park last year after all.

As I said, the way Freedman has us set-up at the moment dictates that we will never score many goals. Vaughan is a very capable finisher, but a lot of the time he's been feeding off scraps. I would like to see him playing alongside Counago or Iversen on a regular basis, but it's a case of needs must at the moment.

Looking beyond this season, what does the future hold for Palace? After being dragged through the mire like Pompey, is there now a light at the end of the tunnel?

There is a lot to be positive about going forward, particularly if we can avoid relegation. The new owners are working hard to try and develop all aspects of the club, in conjunction with the fans, and there is a now a new stadium in the offing back at our old home of Crystal Palace park which would be a big step forward for the club.

What sort of match are you expecting at Fratton Park? Would you take a draw if it were offered to you now?

Yeah, I'd certainly take a draw. I think we'll try to make it a tight game and look to sneak something on the break. Pompey will be buoyed by two back to back wins and will be confident so I imagine we'll have to do a lot of defending to take anything from the game.

Predict the outcome of the game.

An optimistic 1-1 draw.