De Boer calls for ‘courage’ af­ter Palace crum­ble

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Nick Szczepanik at Sel­hurst Park

Frank de Boer, the Crys­tal Palace man­ager, said on the eve of this match that he was not wor­ried about his job, but on yes­ter­day’s ev­i­dence he ought to be. Noth­ing that hap­pened here would have per­suaded the book­mak­ers that they were wrong to make the Dutch­man favourite to be the first Premier League man­ager sacked this sea­son.

Palace were sec­ond-best in a dis­mal game be­tween two teams who had pre­vi­ously failed to find the net. Swansea put that right. Tammy Abra­ham scored his first goal for the Welsh club a minute be­fore the in­ter­val, and Jor­dan Ayew dou­bled the lead three min­utes into the sec­ond half.

But Palace re­main goal­less, point­less, and for most of this game, clue­less. “It was dis­ap­point­ing for ev­ery­one,” De Boer said. “Es­pe­cially in the first half, we didn’t show any courage on the ball. They were two teams that didn’t play at their best. Teams that make [fewer] mis­takes usu­ally win this type of game. In three min­utes we gave it away.”

The open­ing was so­porific, with a third-minute div­ing header well past a post from Ayew the only ac­tion of note. Palace took longer to get go­ing, and when they did, Pa­trick van Aan­holt’s low pass zipped across goal with no for­ward there to take the chance. And then James McArthur and Chris­tian Ben­teke got in each other’s way as they jumped for a cross from Scott Dann.

The crowd was un­im­pressed and the jeers started af­ter 25 min­utes. Both sides were guilty of aim­less and mis­placed passes, with McArthur one of few play­ers to show any am­bi­tion, shoot­ing a foot wide on the half-hour when a chance came 20 yards out.

Swansea fi­nally man­aged a shot on target – their first of the sea­son – when Ti­mothy Fosu-Men­sah mis­con­trolled a long for­ward ball and Abra­ham hit a shot that Palace goal­keeper Wayne Hen­nessey blocked with a knee.

From the cor­ner, Al­fie Maw­son es­caped the mark­ing of Joel Ward only to head wide. But it was a tem­po­rary re­prieve as Swansea built un­hin­dered down the right through Kyle Naughton and Sam Clu­cas be­fore Abra­ham lost Martin Kelly to vol­ley in a cross by Leroy Fer from five yards – the Chelsea loa­nee’s ideal range when with Bris­tol City last sea­son.

“At this level there’s a lot of scru­tiny when a striker doesn’t score,” Paul Cle­ment, the Swansea man­ager, said. “But he is a goalscorer. He’s off the mark and he’s very happy.”

And the game was ef­fec­tively over three min­utes into the restart as Swansea scored a far­ci­cal sec­ond. Naughton be­gan it, rob­bing the hap­less Kelly and play­ing the ball for­ward for Ayew.

The de­fend­ers stood still and ap­pealed for off­side, but no flag was raised and Ayew ran on, scor­ing into an empty net when the ad­vanc­ing Hen­nessey’s at­tempt to clear ric­o­cheted back off the Ghana for­ward.

Palace tried to get back into the game, and their fans bayed for penal­ties when Chung-yong Lee and Yohan Cabaye tum­bled in the area, but on both oc­ca­sions the chal­lenges were per­fectly ex­e­cuted, the lat­ter a par­tic­u­larly well-timed tackle by Mike van der Hoorn when there was no mar­gin for er­ror. But Palace’s at­tacks were pre­dictable, lack­ing in va­ri­ety and mostly re­pelled with ease. Even when a rare er­ror by the other­wise ex­cel­lent Maw­son pre­sented An­dros Townsend with a late chance, he side­footed wide. “A good vic­tory,” Cle­ment said. “We’ve had a dif­fi­cult start so four points is pretty rea­son­able.”

Lift-off: Jor­dan Ayew (right) cel­e­brates his goal with fel­low scorer Tammy Abra­ham

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