When it began, the summer break felt like it would last forever, now I can’t help but wonder where that time has gone.
Palace begin their summer friendlies this week and the opening game of the Premier League is just a month away. And, as excited as that makes me, I can’t help but feel a little twinge of panic starting to creep in. Some of that is the natural amount of worry that always comes with riding the Palace roller coaster. The other portion is a panic that’s particular to this part of the year. It’s the constant growing anxiety of wondering, when and if, we will bring in any meaningful signings.
No longer do we have a few weeks to see how things fall into place after the season begins, and hope to pick someone up on the cheap because they don’t seem to be fitting into their club’s plans. Now, decisions must be made before the first ball of the season is kicked. We have to go into our match against Everton with a clear plan in place for the season, and a plan B when that plan inevitably goes to pieces.
The need to have the team sorted early places even greater importance on the preseason games coming up. For most of us, it will be difficult to analyze these games. The package the team put forth to watch them has priced many fans out. And relying on game reports can often limit the picture of what actually happened.
What we can look at are the player selections that Hodgson makes. Not just who is starting and where, but also how players are paired together. With Wilf still away at the African Cup of Nations Hodgson will have to find ways to make the team work without its talisman. Done correctly this will benefit the team. If we find ourselves without Wilf come the start of the season Hodgson will hopefully have spent this time finding a system that we can be successful in without him. And if we do have Wilf it will hopefully be a system that Wilf can be slotted into and improve something that already works. The fear is that Hodgson will develop a finely balanced machine that simply cannot accommodate Wilf and what he does best.
While the preseason may give fans some insight, and maybe some hope going into the upcoming season, the preseason isn’t for us, it’s for the coaches. With so many games coming so quick and fast over the next few weeks it should give Hodgson and his staff the chance to not only look at what systems will work but also where additions are needed to the team. And with teams all around Europe and trying to get in some precious game time, our scouts should have plenty of chances to identify the talent we need.
So, there is plenty of time left; plenty of opportunities for Hodgson to find what the squad needs. So, there’s no need to panic. Not yet. But if you feel a growing sense of unease that looms larger and larger with each passing day that there’s not a new signing there is at least one thing that you don’t have to worry about. You are not alone.