Goodbye Punch

In truth, he stayed two years too long

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Following the announcement yesterday that Julian Speroni will be leaving Crystal Palace this summer after 15 years with the club it has been revealed today that Jason Puncheon will also be leaving in the summer.

Cue the outpouring of emotion but I don’t understand why.

We knew this four months ago!

In January, Puncheon left the club to go out on loan at Huddersfield Town where he struggled to get into an awful team fighting relegation. At the time he left there was a lot of sentimental comments with people saying how we’d not see him play for the club again.

So, we knew four months ago that Puncheon would not be at the club next season so why all the emotional comments now?

If we’re honest the game has passed him by and he is nowhere near good enough for the Premier League. He couldn’t get in to a very poor Huddersfield team, a team crying out for a player with Premier League experience.

Two years too late

The truth is Puncheon was a terrific player during his first 3 seasons with the club. He joined the club as a winger and after Zaha returned was moved inside as an attacking midfielder.

Puncheon was never blessed with pace so it was an obvious move to have Bolasie and Zaha on the wing but he was useful playing centrally just behind the striker.

It was during his 4th season that his performances dipped and he struggled in a team that was fighting under Allardyce to stay in the Premier League.

The next season under Frank de Boer and then Roy Hodgson’s he rarely featured, seemingly not the latter’s type of player, presumably because he isn’t mobile enough.

Assault charge

In December 2017, Puncheon was arrested and charged with assault and possession of an offensive weapon. Just over a week later he sustained a serious knee injury in a rare outing from the substitutes bench against Manchester City on 31st December.

In the game Luke Milivojevic missed a penalty in injury time. The ball came out to Puncheon who lost possession and it led to an awful tackle on Kevin de Bruyne that saw both players stretched off.

I felt at the time that Puncheon shouldn’t have been in the squad because I questioned his state of mind. Not just because of his arrest but because the details of what happened on the evening of his arrest were not that of level headed person.

The following month Puncheon appeared in court and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to both charges. Later on in the year the charge of possession of an offensive weapon was dropped. Puncheon then changed his plea to the charge of assault from ‘not guilty’ to ‘guilty’.

He should have been sacked

In my opinion the club were right to support Puncheon up to the point his trial would be over because all the facts needed to come out and he was in essence an innocent man until proven guilty.

However, the moment he changed his plea to guilty, thus removing any doubt over his innocence he should have been sacked for bringing the club in to disrepute.

You might think that is being harsh on Puncheon but footballers who earn a damn good living should be made examples of when they commit serious crimes.

Kids look up to footballers and they need to know actions have consequences. Instead he has continued to earn his massive salary at the club for 1½ years.

In fact Puncheon’s only punishment was being given a community order requiring him to carry out 210 hours of unpaid work and to pay the doorman he assaulted £250 compensation.

Sympathy

I can only think the reason Puncheon wasn’t sacked was that the club felt some sympathy towards Puncheon because of his injury.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish deserves credit for sticking by Puncheon even if I don’t agree with it.

Parish has always been loyal to players who have given good service to the club. It is both a strength and a weakness of his.

The future

You could be forgiven for thinking I have something against Puncheon, I just don’t! I just don’t like all the faux emotion that seems to be the thing these days.

I genuinely wish him well for the future and I thank him for the service he gave the club and for the good times he gave us during the first 4 seasons with the club.

Hopefully he can find a decent club and can squeeze a couple more years out of his career.

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