For Crystal Palace, last season was one for heroes. From the amazing tricks of Wilfried Zaha to set up so many goals, to the fantastic clearance from Joel Ward off of the line in the dying seconds of the play-off final, everybody played a part in helping Palace clinch promotion. But perhaps the most vital player in Palace’s squad was a certain Glenn Murray, who chipped in with 31 goals on the Eagles’ route to the Premier League.
Every Palace fan remembers the moment, 65 minutes into a tense game against arch-rivals Brighton, when Glenn went down with a serious knee injury. It was obvious as soon as he went down that Palace’s star striker would be facing a lengthy layout. Glenn missed both the second leg of the play-off Semi Final and the victory over Watford at Wembley, which was gut-wrenching after all the effort he had put in over the season.
With such a bad injury, Murray ended up missing out on the first six months of Palace’s Premier League campaign. Despite such a huge setback, he returned to the match-day squad back in February, to the joy of every single Palace fan. It was a truly heart-warming moment when he stepped back onto the Selhurst Park pitch in the late stages of the victory over West Brom. The man who had given so much to the team last year received a standing ovation – showing how much his efforts still meant to the Palace faithful. Glenn even managed to start the games against Manchester United, Southampton and Sunderland, which was a huge achievement after such a bad year. He bagged his first Premier League goal against Swansea to help pick up a vital point on the road. In recent games, however, he has been forced back out of the team in favour of Cameron Jerome, but is this the right choice?
Let’s have a look at what Glenn Murray offers to the team over Jerome. He is a natural goalscorer. In a relegation dogfight, goals can be hard to come by. Glenn is more likely to put away an opportunity than CamJam, and some argue that this should instantly put Murray ahead of Jerome when it comes to team selection. As well as this, Glenn is better in the air, and can bring other players into the game more with his lay-offs. Surely these qualities should make him the first choice forward in Pulis’ side? Wrong.
In a team where quick counter-attacking football is the main style of play, there is one main quality which the forward players need to possess: pace. It is no use if you get on the counter attack but the defenders catch up with you quicker than a heartbeat! The striker is the one who leads the attack, so what use is it if can’t keep up with the rest of the team?
As well as this, Cameron Jerome will cover more ground in a game and will close down the opposition defenders more than Murray will. This isn’t through a lack of desire from Glenn, but more the fact that he still isn’t fully match fit. At the moment, Glenn is more suited to coming on later in the game when Palace need a goal. It would be of no use to start him every week and then have to make a substitution after 60 minutes because the player is overly fatigued.
Glenn Murray was certainly a hero for Palace last season. His injury ruined his dream of scoring goals freely in the Premier League. It is a dream which can still happen, but not this season. At the moment, Pulis is doing the right thing at the moment by leaving him out of the team. After such a massive injury, Glenn Murray cannot cope with playing every week for Palace. Once he is match fit it will all be a different story, and maybe then he can once again be a hero for the red and blue.