Crystal Palace are in a slump. They currently lie 19th in the Premier League after 25 games and have struggled for results since September.
They started the season with high expectations. The club record transfer fee was broken on Christian Benteke with an initial £27m that could eventually rise to £32m with add-ons. Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Steve Mandanda were other high profile signings during the summer.
And 11 points after the first seven fixtures gave the fans a strong belief they would push for a top half finish instead of staving off relegation. At one stage, they were as high as seventh, just a win away from the Champions’ League places.
That was as good as it would get for The Eagles though as four points from the following 10 games led to Alan Pardew being sacked and Sam Allardyce installed as manager just before Christmas.
Allardyce was expected to keep Palace up comfortably after his success with Sunderland last season. However, eight games into his reign the club’s situation has worsened. They have taken just four points and have conceded 14 goals so far in his tenure.
Allardyce has never had a worse start at a Premier League club. He is averaging just 0.5 points a game. This is despite him spending more than he has before in the transfer market. In January they spent over £35 million – more than any other Premier League club. The decision to try to spend their way to safety has not paid off so far.
Pundits are split over the Sam Allardyce effect. Paul Merson said that Allardyce is the type of manager that will keep them up while Matt Le Tissier went the opposite route and said he has lost his mojo.
Palace can hold hope in the fact that Allardyce’s end of season results tend to be better. Last season his Sunderland side collected 19 points in the final 13 games. If the same were to happen this season, the South London club would amass 38 points. This would be on par with the 38.4 points on average it is to stay in the Premier League.
They also have home advantage in most of their crucial games – five of their remaining home fixtures are against sides in the bottom half. At Sunderland, Allardyce lost two of his last eight at home. Both of those were against sides that finished in the top four.
With their next game against 16th-placed Middlesbrough, Palace fans will hope their fortunes turn around quickly and that Allardyce can work his magic once again.