The Expat Eagle Awards 2016/2017 – Part 2


It seems like everyone who has any form blog, YouTube channel or podcast does a season review or awards post. So why should I be any different?

This is following on from part 1.

Unsung hero

This award goes to another player who I don’t rate very highly but he is someone who tries his best whenever he is on the field.

You might be aware that I always say that I can forgive a lack of talent but not a lack of effort and if he were judged on effort he might receive more love than he does.

That player is Frazier Campbell.

Whenever he plays he does the dirty work. He runs the channels, chases the ball, harasses the defenders and generally goes after lost causes.

He knows the stick he gets yet the fact he went down the pub to have a drink with the Palace fans when Puncheon and Zaha went shows what a nice guy he is, one who cares about the club.

While he might not be in the same class as Christian Benteke he does always put in a shift and let us not forget he has one full England cap to his name so he can rightfully claim to be an England international!

Most over-hyped player of the season

This is a tough one to call because our players aren’t really hyped up so I decided the award based on who’s reputation is bigger than their performances have reflected.

There are two obvious candidates in Steve Mandanda and Loic Remy but it would be a little unfair on them. While Mandanda’s 9 Premier League games were below average and he made mistakes that would have seen Wayne Hennessey become the target of abuse I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that there are background factors.

The same can be said for Remy who’s season has been blighted by injury yet when he did play he looked promising.

Another candidate for the award is Andros Townsend though he started to deliver after Big Sam arrived.

Ah, fuck it, I’m giving it to Steve Mandanda. He is supposed to be a professional and for the 90 minutes he is on the pitch he should be able to focus his mind to perform even if he is homesick.

Best win of the season

This one genuinely has a lot of candidates, something I would not have believed if you’d asked me in January!

The 4-0 win at home verses Hull is in this list only because it was your stereotypical relegation 6 pointer. It was a well deserved, one sided victory for us and had the game taken place 3 months earlier it wouldn’t have made the list at all.

Everything had been building up to the game, like a winner takes all 90 minutes which in the end was an anti-climax because Hull failed to turn up. The fact it sealed our Premier League survival and the release of pressure we felt afterwards is the only reason it is in this list.

The 2-0 victory up at West Brom is memorable because not only was it a much needed win and featured Andros Townsend’s goal of the season but the Palace fans singing “Oh Tony Pulis, we’re taking your house!” which made it all the sweeter.

The 2-1 victory away at Stamford Bridge was a massive high. Chelsea were nailed on to be champions so for us to go there and inflict a defeat on them while being subjected to a barrage for 70-odd minutes brought a massive release of pressure that was incredibly satisfying.

The 2-1 victory at Anfield was fantastic though for slightly different reasons. The game was more even than at Chelsea but it was a hard fought victory but I was particularly pleased for Christian Benteke.

Everyone likes to be vindicated so going back to your former team and getting two goals while seeing him try his best to stifle a big grin in front of the Palace fans was immensely satisfying. I’m a big fan of Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte so beating the two of them made the victories all the better.

So it only leaves one game that could possibly be in this list and it is the game that I think is our best win of the season and it is, of course, the 3-0 victory at home to Arsenal.

Forget all the shite Arsene Wenger has received this season, Arsenal finished 5th in the league and only 2 points off 4th place. We, arguably, cost them 4th place and though their performances had been a bit patchy their have been superb after the defeat to us, even beating Chelsea in the FA Cup Final!

Beating Arsenal any time is an achievement so to spank them 3-0, out play them and cost them Champions League football makes me sleep a little easier at night.

Worst defeat of the season

This comes down to two games which summed up the first half of the season. It is between Swansea and Burnley away and it has to be the defeat to Swansea.

In that game we displayed everything that was wrong during the last 10 months of the Pardew era. How we gave two goals away in the last 2 minutes to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is beyond me.

The game gave Bob Bradley his first victory, someone who had become a laughing stock. Christian Benteke was arguably at fault for 3 goals because he failed to mark or track his player at set pieces but it was the whole mentality of the team that was so terrible!

The fact we managed to score 4 goals and Swansea 5 goals speaks volumes about our respective defences and that we both managed to stay up is testament to the two managers who came in.

The Burnley game was a close second because it was another last minute defeat from our set piece and the fact that it was Zaha who almost cleared the ball off the line speaks volumes about our defenders lack of desire at the time.

The 5-4 defeat is head and shoulders above the 5-0 mauling we got up at Manchester City because in that game we, or at least I, expected to get a tonking. We were saving ourselves for the Hull game and we were at bare bones in defence.

Best managerial decision of the season

Sometimes a manager has to make big decisions and it the decision Big Sam made by dropping Scott Dann and making Jason Puncheon captain has to be about as big as it gets.

Worst managerial decision of the season

Without doubt it was stripping Mile Jedinak of the captaincy in the manner he did it before selling him to Aston Villa.

I am not saying the decision to sell Jedinak in itself is the worst decision, though I think it was a mistake. It was the manner in which Pardew belittled him and publicly humiliated him which put the final nail in his coffin and I don’t think the players had any respect for Pardew after that.

Young player of the season

Did we play any players who could be classed as youth? I think, officially, youth players are age 23 and under.

With that in mind the 4 youngest players to have played Premier League football for us this season are Wilfred Zaha (24), Zeki Fryers (24), Sullay Kaikai (21) and Jonathan Benteke (21).

We all know about Zaha but Fryers made 8 appearances as substitute while Kaikai and Benteke made 1 appearance each as substitute. Both Zaha and Fryers were 23 when the season kicked off last August.

I think it is Hobson’s choice really and I am going to give it to Zeki Fryers because of the two assists he made, most notably the cross up at Sunderland for McArthur to score, levelling the game.

I know, I know, if Fryers can be 23 and get the award then why can’t Zaha as he’s the same age? Well, because…

Player of the season

Has to go to Wilfred Zaha! He still needs to develop a little more in the final third but the passion he plays with shows what the club means to him and how important it was that we stayed in the Premier League.

Zaha gets a lot of stick for things that are just confusing. When we were going for promotion a lot of Palace fans slagged him off for not caring because he had signed for Manchester United. That was just totally and utterly wrong.

This past season some people have said he doesn’t care enough because he wants to go to Spurs.

You can say what you like about Zaha and other local players like Puncheon but the one thing you should never accuse them of is not caring because if nothing else caring is the thing they do too much.

That might be their biggest negative on their form, that they are local lads who feel the weight of the community.

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