Date:Monday October 30 2006
This week Vital Sheffield Wednesday talks to Palace nut Jon about his side's chances on Tuesday night, Peter Taylor, and replacing Andy Johnson with Shefki Kuqi!
1. Whats your start to the season been like?
Well, that`s a question! We got off to a flyer at the start, winning our first three, and some of us thought we were on for a Reading-style season of domination. But we had played poor football in each of those wins and didn`t truly deserve to be sat at the top of the table with nine points. Since then we`ve lost five of nine and have dropped away to where we probably deserve to be - nowhere. We`ve been playing poor football, and not looking like scoring goals. We`ve had a few injuries too, but considering our chairman`s ambitions, the fact we were in the Premiership a couple of years ago and the play-offs last year, the expectation at Palace, rightly or wrongly, is for something significantly better than mid-table obscurity.
2. What did you think to Iain Dowie leaving in the summer?
Delighted! Everyone knows he came in when we were at the foot of the table and got us into the Premiership that season, and we battled well while we were there, but his tactical knowledge leaves a huge amount to be desired. That was no better shown than at Watford in the play-off second leg last year. 3-0 down from the first leg, we knew we had to have a real go at them from the off, but Dowie insisted on a bland, un-attacking formation and line-up and the game petered out into a non-event. We even ended up playing a centre-back up front on a few occasions, leaving proven goalscorers on the bench. His departure was certainly not mourned by many in south-east London, except perhaps by our friends at Charlton!
3. And his successor Peter Taylor?
On the face of it, it has to be a good appointment - doesn`t it? A decent manager with undoubtedly good contacts in the lower leagues through his under-21 dealings, we were expecting an influx of young, hungry and talented players. While that has not exactly been the case, and the results have left a little to be desired, as have some of the tactics - like bringing everyone back for a corner - he`s not under too much pressure just yet. Hopefully this will be the man who we finally give some time and he can put his own stamp on the team.
4. What are your aims for the season and do you think you'll achieve them?
The aim is simple, get promotion. Chairman Simon Jordan demands it, and so do we. But realising that target looks like it will prove to be tough. Although we are actually in a better position this season than we were last in terms of league position, and points off the top - we`re not playing the sort of football that wins teams promotion. Last season Reading were rampant, scoring goals at will and from all over the park. At the moment Leon Cort (centre-back) is our top scorer! Maybe it will take the new faces time to gel into a force to be reckoned with, maybe they just won`t gel. Either way, promotion`s the target and anything less will be a failure.
5. I hear Simon Jordan has kindly bought your ground for you, that must have been pretty pleasing - we're not used to having 'nice' chairmen!
What a man! Never before has the orange man been so loved by Palace fans! And the way he went about it is even more pleasing - to
buy from the evil Mr Noades without him even knowing is priceless! Jordan`s done so much for this club, and this latest move is just another reason to love the fake-tanned, sunglasses-wearing, bleached-blond shaggy-mopped messiah. The future`s bright, the future`s Simon Jordan!
6. Shefki Kuqi was either loved or hated up here - I loved him, what's he been like at Palace since signing for you?
Personally I haven`t seen enough of him to give an objective view, but in the games I have seen, he`s been poor. And the reception he`s received from the fans has not been great. Maybe he`s unfit and not
ready, but if that`s the case he shouldn`t be playing. We`ve got Freedman, Morrison, Scowcroft and Kuqi, but no pace - and that`s what we miss most. Scowcroft and Kuqi seem essentially to be the same player - tall, strong, and slow. But Kuqi doesn`t seem to jump for balls or put the effort in, and that really frustrates fans. He`s got a big price-tag to live up to, so lets hope there`s plenty more to come from the swan-diver.
7. Losing Andy Johnson must have been a blow - I take it you're missing him this season?
We`re missing him more than I expected. His pace and enthusiasm, and willingness to chase lost causes were his finest assets. His finishing wasn`t always up to scratch, but his teamwork was phenomenal and he will be sorely missed. He was always an outlet and was always someone we could rely on to change a game. As it is now we have no real pace up-front, and nobody to get in behind the last line. Seeing him waving goodbye at Watford and shedding a tear was heart wrenching - he`s a class player, and someone any club would miss.
8. Who are your danger men?
If he`s on-song then winger Jobi McAnuff can cause any defence problems. His tricky feet and willingness to take players on, along with an eye for goal, soon made him a crowd favourite. Scowcroft will win every header, and with Morrison and Freedman around, there should always be goals around. From set pieces watch out for Mark Kennedy`s delivery and the new Ninja - Leon Cort, our top scorer this season.
9. If you could take one Wednesday player to Palace who would it be and why?
Kenny Lunt is someone I`ve long admired, and has always caused us problems so it would have to be him. Even if it`s just so he doesn`t play against us!
10. If you could send one Palace player to Wednesday who would it be and why?
It would have to be either Tommy Black or Marco Reich - again, purely from a selfish point of view. Neither has cemented a place in the first team under Peter Taylor, yet both do have ability. A spell on loan could invigorate either and you could send them back to us on top form. Having said that, watch Reich run the game tonight(hopefully!)
11. What do you make of Wednesday's chances this season?
There are certainly worse teams in the division so I can`t see relegation being an issue. You`ve not had a great start and so are down the wrong end, but there`s still plenty of time and as ever it will be a close season where anyone beats anyone. A few winning runs and any team could move themselves right up the table - and there`s no reason why that can`t include Wednesday. The play-offs may be a step too far too soon, but a club of Wednesday`s size can`t lay dormant forever.
12. Finally, what do you think the score will be?
On the palace predictions site I`ve gone for a 0-0 half time 1-1 full time, but can`t see either team being particularly happy with that. Our form`s not good enough to expect to walk away with the three points, but it won`t stop a handful of us coming up and hoping and praying I`m wrong! That`s another thing - why on earth are we playing this game on a Tuesday night when only a handful of away fans will make
the journey - bizarre planning!
Cheers Jon for the BUMPER interview this week! Hopefully we'll pick up a vital three points on Tuesday night but good luck for the rest of the season. I'm sure Shefki qill come good for you...
NEXT UP - LEICESTER CITY...
Date:Monday October 30 2006
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