Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Palace Fans Deserve a Trip to United after All Their Tribulations'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Palace Fans Deserve a Trip to United after All Their Tribulations'

Article excerpt

Byline: Henry Swarbrick

[bar] HEIR side may have had three goalless draws in their last five games but life for a Crystal Palace supporter is rarely dull. The south London club failed to score for the fifth game in succession against Millwall on Saturday but their defensive strength meant they earned a point despite Glenn Murray's penalty miss.

Next up for Palace is a trip to Old Trafford on Wednesday to play Premier League champions Manchester United in the Carling Cup quarter-finals.

The fixture is a welcome tonic for Palace and not just because they haven't won a game in over a month.

Recent history has not been kind to Dougie Freedman's side. Palace were relegated in the first season of the Premier League, in 1993, despite being eight points clear of safety with three games remaining.

They have spent only four of the 18 subsequent years in the Premier League and their fans have watched on in envy, amidst a background of administration and boardroom change, as traditionally smaller clubs such as Wigan have established themselves as mainstays in the top flight.

Freedman spent 10 of his 16 years as a professional at Selhurst Park before joining the coaching set-up in 2007 and therefore understands the tribulations of Palace supporters as well as how much of fillip a tie at United is.

"It is a way of saying thank you to our loyal fans," said the Glaswegian.

"We've got to give the game to the supporters. We've twice gone into administration and suffered relegation but they have really stuck by us.

"It's a chance for them to enjoy the atmosphere of a Premier League ground in a big cup match. Hopefully we'll be playing week in week out in those kinds of stadia very soon. It's been a tough few years."

Life has been rosier in south London over the last 12 months, however.

Freedman replaced George Burley as manager in January, with the club three points from the drop zone. He guided them to safety under the more stable ownership of the CPFC consortium and after 18 games of this season, Palace are in tenth place. They were as high as third only five matches ago but have not scored a goal since being drawn against United and slowly dropped down the table. …

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