What If...Palace had won the FA Cup in 2016? We simulated it to see

Written by Matt Buckland

Our simulation king Matt Buckland is back to play out another scenario, this time what if Palace had won the 2016 FA Cup?

Last week we mentioned on the podcast that one of our Patreons, Matt Buckland, had played out the rest of this season on Football Manager 2020 to see what would happen, and these are the results.

He's back this week with another simualted scenario and it's a big one; what if Palace had won the FA Cup final in 2016? A game we were just 11 minutes from winning of course, and there are some great quotes from goalscorer Jason Puncheon here on that.

Anyway, over to Matt...

Winning the FA Cup in 2016 meant that West Ham missed out on the Europa League for 16/17. What a shame. Man Utd still qualified as they finished in 5th.

We entered the Europa League at the Qualifying stage and that's where our experiment starts. It may not have been totally accurate, but it's the easiest way to get the experiment working.

Squad

I kept the squad together from the FA Cup final except Yannick Bolasie’s move to Everton (mainly because I forgot). However, this meant that we used the money to sign Andros, Benteke and Tomkins and kept it as believable as possible.

Here’s the squad list that we started the season with. Julian Speroni is still at the club, but in the U23’s for some reason…

Transfers

IN: Juan Manuel Vargas (LB) - Free
OUT: None

I went month by month and captured the important games. Here’s the fixture list for the first couple of months:

July Key Results

August Key Results

After these victories, we progressed to the group stages of the Europa League. Our group was below:

September Key Results

October Key Results

This also brought up the 10 game mark for the Premier League. The table is as below:

Not looking good…

November Key Result

Note the young German scoring against us...

December Key Result

This win vs Saint Etienne meant we finished 2nd in the group and qualified for the Knockout stages:

Half way stage of the season

20 games into the season proved a mixed bag. Results and table at this stage are below

 

 January Key Results

 

 

End of the January transfer window:

 

February Key Results

 

 

 

March Key Result

April Key Results

May Key Result

 End of Season

Premier League:

FA Cup:

Europa League:

So a mid-table finish, a run to the Europa League knockouts but more importantly, ANOTHER FA CUP WIN! TWO IN A ROW, BABY!

What scenarios do you want to see Matt simulate next?


 

You need to watch this Jason Puncheon interview on Palace and the 2016 FA Cup final

Written by FYP Fanzine

The former Eagles captain opens up about most of his career including that FA Cup final to former Palace TV presenter Alex Howell.

We all love Jason Puncheon. 

For a number of reasons; for crying after that goal against Norwich, for that silly yet lovable celebration, for getting injured while chopping down Kevin de Bruyne, for growing up yards from Selhurst, for just getting what playing for Palace meant. And for that FA Cup fnal goal.

It's been almost a year now since Punch left for Cypriot club Pafos after six years at the club, and three years since he joined us on the FYP Podcast, and we'll be honest, we miss him every day.

But thankfully former Palace TV presenter Alex Howell has brought Punch back into our lives with a fantastic interview as part of his new At Hme series, chatting to footballers from thier homes during the Covdid-19 lockdown.

Punch discussess his entire career with Alex but the bit that will interest Palace fans most is his really very honest admissions around the 2016 FA Cup final, starting with the moment he realise he wasn't going to start, despite having score that goal against Norwich a few weeks prior to secure the club's Premier League survival.

"What made it worse is where I knew Pards as a person, I knew I wasn’t playing from the week before," he said. "Because I know how he is with me. Me and him. He never told me until two days before, but I knew. Because I could just sense just little things. Like I knew him probably as well as he knew me as a person, how he managed, how he was, I could see when I wasn’t going to play when I was going to play. And I knew but you can never admit to yourself that that's going to happen, but I knew.

"So anyway he tells me on the Thursday and I just said "thank you" and walked out of the office. That's it. You've made your decision, there is nothing I am gonna say to you that's gonna change [that decision]. I really don't want to argue, just think that's pointless. I went and sat in Danny [the kitman's] room for about half an hour on my own until training.

"Me and Danny were close and me and Damo were close and Damo came in an and said "You alright?" I said "it is what it is, I can't change nothing, but at the end of the day I said I've got obviously players to worry about. Yannick and Wilf at the time they really looked up to me, they were like my little brothers. And I just sat there and thought 'do you know what even if I was in the team if there are two boys that are going to be so pivotal to this game to us it's going to be them two, if they see me sulking or down that will affect them' so I had to be strong for the group even though inside you're burning."

 

Of course Punch saw Yannick and Wilf as younger brothers, that only makes us love him more. And of course, he then came off the bench with 20 minutes to go and didn't take long to score just Palace's fourth ever FA Cup final goal, with a superb volley at the back post on 78 minutes.

The celebration that followed showed the sort of togetherness that squad had, says Punch.

He said: "People don't really notice it. Obviously Wayne didn't but how many people actually ran to that corner was brilliant and you've got to think there was Baky [Sako] on the sideline, there was Adebayor on the sideline on the bench, they all ran down. And to see that and when you look at some of those pictures, don't get me wrong there were some things that were bad but this was something that made people realise how together we were at the time and for me it's priceless having that in football.

Famously, he appeared to shout something towards Alan Pardew on the touchline as he celebrated his goal and he revealed what he was saying at that exact moment.

"I was upset with Pards, he knows that, we spoke about it," said Punch. "I was upset with him but when I look back at it, it was a good move as a manager. Because he knows my character, he knows me well I know him well. Some players he might drop and they'll might sulk, he'll put them on and then they might bring that sulkiness onto the pitch.

"He knew I was a fighter, so he knew he could drop me and I would be like ‘alright I'll show you’. And he could take that burden of 'right, you know what, Punch has proved me wrong'. That’s how my character is, it was never give up and fight. So it was a good move, it is just a shame we didn’t win."

Of course, it wasn't to be (again) and Manchester United went on to win in extra time having equalised Puncheon's opener just three minutes later when Wayne Rooney was allowed to waltz through the Palace defence and set up Juan Mata.

Puncheon still regrest not chopping Rooney down at the start of his run but also had some harsh words for referee Mark Clattenburg who had a shocker of a final, and later admitted as much.

Punch added: "You look back at it and there's so many things. You look back at it and think, and I know it sounds crazy but 'flip me, I should have kicked Rooney up in the air' but I didn't. And there's other players along the way that could have kicked him up in the air. It was weird for our team character, when we went ahead we'd hold onto leads...that that happened in a final.

"I do think the ref killed us. Clattenburg ridiculous, for me a disgrace personally. If you look back at things, to see the boys later and say "I'm sorry I got that wrong" we should have had a red card or a goal in the first minute. First 5/10 minutes. Could have been a completely different game. Rooney should have seen red, was on a yellow card from 65 minutes made how many tackles? Just kept on leaving, leaving and leaving.

"But that's football for you, you can't change it, you can only look back on it and I'm hoping that in my lifetime I get to see Crystal Palace win the FA Cup. That's one thing I'd love for sure."

Watch the full interview with Punch below...

Alex has also interviewed Jeff Schlupp, Jonny Williams and more. Check out his Youtube channel here.


 

What If...Covid-19 hadn't happened? We simulated the rest of the season

Written by FYP Fanzine

If Covid-19 hadn't happened we'd all have just watched the Premier League season end and be basking, hopefully, in the glory of another comfortale mid-table finish.

The players would now be on their holidays and we'd be counting down the days until the transfer window opened, pre-season started and everything started all over again for 2020/21.

But as it is we are now looking forward to the 2019/20 season being played out in a mad few weeks in June and July but what would have happened if the season ahd just played out as normal?

Would Palace have ended mid-table? Would they have hit the 50-point mark? Would Jordan Ayew have finished top scorer? Well, with the help of one of our Patreons, Matt Buckland, who simulated the rest of the season on Football Manager 2020, we found out.

First up, let's see how the final nine games played out....

Those results in full...

Here's how the final table looked...

So a final finish of 12th and 48 points, one fewer than last season and just missing out on that elusive 50-point mark, which would have been a Premier League record for Palace. Ho hum.

What happened elsewhere in the table? Here are some key points...

Aston Villa, Watford and Norwich were relegated
Liverpool won the league with 101 points losing 3 games overall
Man City, Chelsea & Leicester qualified for the Champions League and Man Utd, Spurs and Arsenal qualified for the Europa League
Eddie Howe was sacked on 25th March and replaced by Bielsa
Nigel Pearson was sacked in May but not replaced. Caretaker until the end of the season, presumably Hayden Mullins.
West Brom (1st), Fulham (2nd) and Cardiff (Playoffs) promoted from Championship

Stats for Palace:

Goals scored - 34. 2nd lowest in the league
Goals conceded - 45. 7th lowest in the league
Top scorer: Ayew - 11
Top assists: Ayew - 4

Stats for the Premier League:

Top scorer: Vardy - 22. Aguero & Salah in 2nd place with 20 each.
Top assists: De Bruyne - 18. Alexander-Arnold in 2nd place with 12.
Top clean sheets: Alisson & Pope - 15

Pre-season 20/21

We also rolled the game on into pre-season for 2020/21 which in real life no-one knows when will happen.

In typical Palace fashion there were just two transfers, one in and one out. Ademola Lookman joining from RB Leipzip for £17.5m and Jordan Ayew leaving for Krasnodar for £12m, leaving Roy Hodgson yet again with basically no strikers.

Transfers: 

IN
Lookman - £17.75m from RB Leipzig

OUT
Ayew - £12m to Krasnodar

Palace also offered new contracts to Sakho (2023), Jairo (2023), Meyer (2023) & McArthur (2021).

Let's see if the actual season resembles any of that when it starts back up again in a few weeks!


 

 

FYP Fanzine issue 54 now sold out but you can buy an e-copy for £1

Written by FYP Fanzine

We're delighted to announce the latest issue of FYP Fanzine is here!

And as per it's absolutely packed with the latest Palace opinions, interviews and more. In issue 54 there is...

  • An exclusive  interview from Perth with Tony Popovic
  • A feature with Matt Woosnam from The Athletic
  • Palace fans across Europe
  • Differing views on how the season is going, including: 1) Is Roy one of our greatest managers ever? 2) Has he been let down by Steve Parish and the other owners? 3) Is watching Palace this season like pulling teeth?
  • And more! 

We sold out of all paper copies of issue 54 against Sheffield United but there is an infinte number of downloadable PDF copies availabe for £1.

Click here to buy a copy for £1


 

Andros Townsend: This is why Palace have been Unlucky this Season

Written by Jack Watson

Andros Townsend speaks to Jack Watson and tells him that he feels Crystal Palace have been exceptionally unlucky this season.

The Premier League campaign has been halted with a quarter of the season - a total of nine games - to go due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Eagles sitting comfortably in 11th place, 12 points above the drop and only six points off Manchester United in fifth.

"We’ve been very unfortunate this season," says Townsend.  "We had a lot of injuries all in a similar position at the same time. As we were going through the Christmas period and January and February, we had a lot of players out and it was pretty much the same 11 so it was only natural that we were going to drop points and have a dip in form. As we got players back, as you’ve seen in the last three games, we started to pick up points again and got to where we deserved to be, which is in and around mid-table.

"Coming up to this [the pandemic] we won three games on the spin and were playing well, the team were getting into a groove and we were climbing up the table and looking up. When football does start again we’ll make sure we are as fit as possible and we will give those last nine games as much as we’ve got and see where it takes us," he said to Swipe, a free to play sports predictor and trivia game with real cash prizes where you can also donate to the NHS, at the launch of Fifa 20 tournament Stay INtertoto Cup to raise money for charity.

The question about if and when the season should start up again has been raging since football was halted six weeks ago, and Townsend is of the opinion that it should be finished, but only when it is safe to do so.

READ MORE: Groundbreaking Crystal Palace Investigation Could Change Football History

He added: "My view has always been that the league should finish and I’m sure it will finish. At the moment the Premier League and football is irrelevant, the only thing that is relevant at the minute is the NHS and saving lives and us all chipping in and trying to do what we can to help them along the way.

"When the time comes and they do eventually beat this virus and football becomes relevant again, we need to be ready and we need to give the people who follow football their football fix back and hopefully by doing that we need to complete the season.

"We need to keep the integrity of the Premier League and keep everything ticking over and hopefully we can do that as safely as possible when the time comes.

"At the moment people say, ‘who cares about football, football’s not at the top of anyone’s thinking’ and that’s right, but there will come a time when football is relevant again and we need to make sure it does have a sustainable future and I think the best way to do that is to keep everyone happy and finish the season. After this season has finished then you start thinking about the next season and start thinking the season after that."

Footballers have been on the receiving end of some harsh words from some social commentators and even Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who demanded that top-flight players take a pay cut. Townsend thought that sort of rhetoric was a low blow.

"It’s not nice," he said. "I think it’s an easy deflection to turn it onto the easy targets. There was always going to be a contribution from Premier League players and it was taking the time to figure out what can we do and how we can do it and where is best to put our money and we came to the decision after each club helped out their local communities we came to a decision to raise a big fund for the NHS that was announced a few weeks ago and we’re in the process now of trying to donate as much as we can and hopefully we can get a nice pot and help the NHS out."

Being locked down and unable to play or train midway through a season is obviously difficult for any professional, but Townsend revealed that Palace are keeping their squad fit and on their toes while isolated at home with training regimes. 

Townsend added: "I’m very fortunate I’ve got two young kids so they’re keeping me occupied. I’m delving into their routine, when they nap, I nap, when they play I play so I go along with what they do. Obviously, I’m missing football, but to be able to spend more time with the kids is nice, it’s a little silver lining in what are dark times at the minute.

"Palace sent us a few running programmes, gym programmes, bike programmes and stuff we can do in and around the house. There’s a website where we punch in what we’ve done, how long we’ve done it for and how hard it was. They’re in the process at the minute of sending us GPS units so they can track what we’ve done. When this is all over and when football does become relevant again, we’re ready to go."

The STAY INtertoto Cup Fifa tournament has raised over £4,500 for NHS charities. "That’s the main reason I entered," says Townsend. "I love playing Fifa but when you’re on lockdown you feel pretty helpless and you can’t do much. To get invited to play Fifa, something you love, to try and help raise money for those people who are on the front line and helping to save lives, it was a no brainer and the first tournament I entered we raised a lot of money and hopefully in this tournament we can raise a lot of money again and help contribute to the NHS."

A total of 64 professional footballers entered the tournament, including Wilf Zaha and Townsend, who was beaten by Northampton’s Callum Morton in the last 32 on Sunday night. Zaha lost to Man City's Raheem Sterling in midweek. 

"I hate losing," he said. "It really does affect my mood. A win you’re preparing for a win and you’re expecting a win; you believe you’re going to win no matter what you do. When you do win it’s like, ‘right, I won this one, onto the next one’, but when you lose it’s different because you’re not expecting it, it does affect you a bit more.

"I think to be a sportsman you have to have that competitive streak, you have to be a winner, it hurts when you lose any game. Whether it be a board game or a World Cup final. Fifa is no different. I get pre-game jitters, I get nerves. I get tense if it is a tight game, I’m nervous, I’ve got sweaty palms. It’s similar to a normal game, it’s no different and you just want to win anything you take part in."

On Zaha's FIFA skills, Andros added: "Now, him. He’s so much better than me now. Fifa 18/29, I’d like to think I’d be in with a shot of winning, but since I had my second kid, my son in August, I’ve not really had much time for Fifa and to be good at Fifa you need to be playing it constantly, so I’ve lost my edge a little bit. I’m competitive now, but I have no chance of winning this STAY INtertoto Cup.

"He’s a top player and it’s a privilege to have someone in my position like him to look at. I see him on a daily basis, I see what he does, and I try and implement it on my game and try and improve. It’s great to have him as a teammate and great to have him still at Palace and hopefully we can keep him for a lot longer."

Listen to the latest FYP Podcast below...


Wilfried Zaha is Crystal Palace's 'bravest' player, says Paddy McCarthy

Written by FYP Fanzine

 

Crystal Palace legend Paddy McCarthy has praised Wilfried Zaha as "brave" for taking the weekly whackings he does from literally every team the Eagles play.

Speaking at the FYP Live Podcast was asked about playing and training with a young Zaha, who broke into the first team in 2010 just as McCarthy as team-mates were dealing with the club being in administration.

A few months later that game at Hillsborough saved the club, Zaha because a regular the following season and the rest is history.

When asked if Zaha was the best player he had ever played with, McCarthy didn't hesitate; "Yeah. 100%. "In terms of natural ability I've never seen anything like it, I just haven't and I just think he's getting stronger and stronger as the years go by.

And when asked if he had ever played against anyone better than Wilf it was a similarly emphatic: "No."

"I'd have a word with the referee...quietly. That's been happening to Wilf since he came into the first team, it's probably getting highlighted more in the modern game but when Wilf made his breakthrough he was getting kicked from pillar to post. I think every game I played with Wilfried I had to go and speak to the referee "Can you protect him? Is this going to happen every time he gets the ball where they kick the living daylights out of him?"

"But all credit to Wilf and this is where you have to understand how brave Wilfried is as a lad. people probably look at defensive players; myself, Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and probably think "oh they were brave, they were tough, they were hard"...but compared to Wilfried...because I can kick people but Wilfried actually knows when he's got the ball that he's going to get kicked, he's running at 100 miler per hour that's a different type of bravery. They're the brave ones. And to continue to do that, continue to run at people even knowing that you're going to get your legs kicked off you, that just shows you how brave he is as a football player.

"I think it's a tactical thing at the moment, the tactical foul. It's something that Liverpool use quite a lot, Man City...a lot teams are using this sort of thing.

"I've trained against Wilfried since he was a kit and sometime you are genuinely going for the football and he is that good that he will make you think you can get the ball and just as you get there he will flick it away from you and ultimately you're going to kick him. He's that special that sometimes it's not actually intentional, sometimes I think he leads defenders into believing they can win the ball when they actually can't because he's so quick off the mark, he's so skilful and he's such a talented player. "

Listen to Paddy McCarthy chat Hillsborough, coaching the U18s, that goal at Derby, Poo-gate and many more Palace memories on the FYP Live Podcast below...