Neil Warnock wants new faces at Crystal Palace after Stoke draw

SHAFAQNA – Neil Warnock once accused Mark Hughes of frittering away a footballing inheritance, so it would be understandable if the Welshman invited comparisons of how both men are coping with the lots bequeathed to them by Tony Pulis. Not that mentioning this dreary match would serve anyone’s interests.

The point gained leaves Palace with two more than they had at the same stage last season but recent performances offer little hope of them catching flight the way they did in the second half of last season under Pulis. They have won one of their past 10 matches and Warnock appears to be struggling. It would perhaps be harsh to accuse him of destroying Pulis’s team – to recycle the term Warnock used when denouncing Hughes’s unsuccessful handling of Queen Park Rangers after the departure of Warnock from Loftus Road in 2012 – but it is fair to say the incumbent at Selhurst Park has not been able to inspire the startling displays Pulis wrought from almost the same set of players last season. Now he wants new players.

It is true Pulis seemed to doubt this squad’s ability to build on the last campaign, which is why he left on the eve of the new one, but he might have expected to retain more of the solidity and thrust that had made Palace such awkward opponents. After taking charge of Palace when they were deep in relegation trouble, Pulis devised a formula that maximised the qualities of the players available, helping them to finish in 11th place. Warnock has yet to find such a formula.

The manager is right to point out that his team do at least create chances, the problem being they do not take enough of them. Wilfried Zaha and, in particular, Yannick Bolasie are experts at unhinging opposing defences but not at keeping cool heads after doing so and even when they do deliver dangerous crosses, Palace seldom have enough players on hand to take advantage.

Their most useful forward, Marouane Chamakh, does all his best work outside the box and suffered a hamstring injury, the severity of which will be determined by a scan on Monday. Dwight Gayle is reputed to be an ace goal-poacher but made little impact after replacing Chamakh late on and Warnock does not seem to rate him highly. “He hasn’t pushed himself into pole position in training,” Warnock said. “I was disappointed when he came on. It’s like Wilfried early on – they’ve got to show you what they do in training to get back in the team. At the moment it’s the lads in the team who have got the shirts. It’s up to others to knock my door down and say ‘look I’m playing this well, get me in the team.’ Everybody knows we’d like two or three players in January. It would be nice to have more of a physical presence to come on.”

With forwards unable to find the net regularly, Palace are reliant on goals from midfield. At least James McArthur profited from a Bolasie cross against Stoke, the midfielder heading it into the net in the 11th minute to claim his first goal for the club, but then Palace’s other problem emerged: they conceded to Peter Crouch within two minutes, highlighting the solidity they have lost since last season. Pulis presided over six 1-0 wins after taking up his rescue mission last season.

Sean Dyche’s Burnley now appear to have figured out a way of doing something similar this season. Warnock’s Palace do not. Palace and Burnley are locked together just above the relegation zone but Dyche’s men are looking the more upwardly mobile and, indeed, have already drawn at Selhurst Park. Palace have failed to take advantage of the fact most of their home fixtures have been against teams who tend to struggle on the road: the second half of the campaign promises to be tougher for Palace.

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