Evolution and change is part of football. Clubs rise up the divisions, players come and go and managers are chopped and changed. However, one thing that should never change is a club’s identity. Crystal Palace were once a team packed full of leaders. Now, however, they look leaderless.
Crystal Palace Now Look a Team Without Leaders
Dwelling on the Past
Long before they were promoted to the Premier League, the Eagles were full of leaders. They were not a team full of excellent footballers, instead a team full of character and one that fought for one another.
It is what has made some players heroes among the Crystal Palace fanbase. Players that gave 100% for the shirt, players that would dive into every tackle, players that would defend each other at every head-to-head. The likes of Paddy McCarthy, Clint Hill and Shaun Derry are all heralded as heroes at Selhurst Park – partly due to their role in saving the club from liquidation in 2010 – as they gave everything for the shirt. It might be a case of modern football taking over, but it is very hard to see any standout leader in the Crystal Palace squad.
Even in the transition from Championship to Premier League in the 2013/14 season and years that followed, Crystal Palace possessed leaders. Team spirit was a major factor in their survival during the 2013/14 Premier League campaign. Captain Mile Jedinak and Damien Delaney were big leaders of the dressing room; their influence and mark on the dressing room has evaporated since they both left the club.
Crystal Palace are Missing Leaders so far This Season
Tough tackling midfielders might now be a thing of the past. Mile Jedinak was not blessed with an immaculate passing range, nor technical skill. However, he was loved by Palace fans due to his tough-tackling and love for the shirt. He earned his wage through grit and determination and was a true leader.
A lot of the current squad could learn from the Australian. Team-spirit looked vacant in their defeat to Sheffield United in their second game of the season. There was no standing up for one another when it mattered. There was a severe showing of disinterest among the squad, which added to the sloppy performance from Roy Hodgson’s side. Captain Luka Milivojevic failed to stand out in the centre of midfield, something that Jedinak often made sure of.
Perhaps the best leader and captain material is currently out injured for Crystal Palace. Mamadou Sakho commands the back-line immaculately at times for Palace and is the true leader of this Crystal Palace side.