Stick or twist: who will be proved right?

So Crystal Palace have blinked and Patrick Vieira has bitten the dust. Described as a young, exciting and attack-minded young coach when he came in he’s now been replaced by 75-year-old Roy Hodgson – in what some describe as an act of sheer desperation.

The Frenchman has joined a significant list of Premier League managers to part company (a phrase that always makes me smile) with their clubs this season, as the pressure to remain in the best and most financially lucrative league in the world intensifies.

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Leeds United said "see-ya buddy" to American Jesse Marsch; Wolverhampton Wanderers waved "adeus" to Portuguese Bruna Lage; Bournemouth said "bye mate" to Scott Parker; Southampton have done the deed twice, having said "auf wiedersehen" to Ralph Hasenhuttl and later "hwyl fawr" to Welshman Nathan Jones - and at Everton it was "laters" for Londoner Frank Lampard.

All those teams are still in the thick of a relegation battle along with West Ham, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest whose owners have (so far) held their nerve and are sticking by David Moyes, Brendan Rodgers and Steve Cooper respectively.

Experience of dealing with the pressures of a relegation fight could prove invaluable – which is possibly why Palace have turned to wily old fox Hodgson. So we shouldn’t forget David Moyes has beaten relegation with us already – twice in fact. First salvaging the mess left by Slaven Bilic and then repeating the operation in the wake of Manuel Pellegrinni’s less than impressive reign.

This time of course we are where we are as a result of his own stewardship. His critics will say he’s got us into this, why should we trust him to get us out of it? Clearly many of the fanbase don’t trust him, but the repeated noises coming from the people who matter most - the owners - do trust him and are looking to stick with him.

Moyes’ supporters, and like it or not there are still more than a few of them around, would point to the fact that if you were looking for someone to plot an escape, his name would be high on the list of candidates. So why would you change for change sake?

They would argue it’s better to hold your nerve – not rock the boat – and stick with what has been a very close-knit unit over the past two years to work together to pull yourselves through.

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A hundred per cent success rate in Europe – 10 victories out of 10 games has never been achieved before in any European competition and suggests it’s not all bad in the camp. The team are a very long way from being a lost cause.

It’s been pointed out that there are some tough games to come against teams in the top half of the table. But that’s true of all the relegation candidates – not just us. Besides recent results have shown us nothing is a given in this league.

I can’t remember entering the final quarter of a Premier League season with so many clubs looking nervously over their shoulders. From 12th placed Crystal Palace down to rock bottom Southampton just three points (one win) divide nine clubs. It’s the games involving those nine clubs directly that will really define the season for three of them.

Six-pointer is a phrase that will be used extensively between now and Sunday 28 May.

The first of those for us of course comes in our next game against Southampton. Our recent home record against fellow strugglers is good. Wins over Everton (2-0) and Nottingham Forest (4-0) suggest when a must-win game is on the line, the manager and the team are capable of stepping up to the plate.

For those of us with a long association, and an equally long memory, of past seasons supporting this club, will know the current situation is nothing new. That doesn’t make it any more acceptable though. But we’re here again and like it or not it’s David Moyes who is going to be charged with pulling us through.

However that won’t stop the continuous tirade against Moyes and the owners on social media. Nothing will – that would continue whatever. But most of us can separate reality from the world those keyboard warriors inhabit. And the reality right now is this is a fight that can still be won!

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