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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Survival Sunday: Wednesday vs. Palace

Our build-up to Sunday's huge Championship survival game continues.
Turls looks back at how Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace have found themselves in this position, and looks ahead to Sunday's showdown.


21. Crystal Palace............45.....-3......48
22. Sheffield Wednesday...45....-20.....46
23. Plymouth Argyle..........45....-24.....41
24. Peterborough United....45....-35.....31

So it all comes down to this.

It's easy to get caught up in the occasion and to say that this is going to be an epic battle for survival. That this will make or break each club. That this could be the hammer of disaster or the turning point to a brighter future.

If you'd have used these whimsical terms to describe any other fixture then you might have found me turning my back on you disgust. Or worse - labelling you a Premier League fan.

However, this is a massive game for so many reasons.

Most relegations are just that — a relegation to a lower division. When Norwich got relegated from the Championship last season, it wasn't as doom and gloom as everyone made out.

Sure, every Norwich fan was a little bit upset but they weren't penning the obituaries for the club. The same applies to when Nottingham Forest got relegated a few seasons back. And when Hereford got relegated from League One. And when... Well you get the idea.

The fact is, getting relegated doesn't mean the end is nigh for the club. Instead it means priorities are altered and targets changed.

When Forest got relegated, everyone was upset and shocked but we deserved to go down. No-one said that the club was done for. Instead, they got back to the drawing board and started formulating a way to get out of League One.

Admittedly, the plans weren't that effective in the beginning but the club was never in danger of continuing to plummet through the leagues and into obscurity.

The same cannot be said of Crystal Palace. If the Eagles lose on Sunday, it could very well be the beginning of the end.

Crystal Palace were hit with a points deduction earlier in the season and this is the sole reason why they find themselves in a relegation battle.

I'm not going to discuss the ins and outs of whether it is fair to deduct a club points for their off-field inadequacies because it has been talked to death all across the board.

Owner Simon Jordan and boss Neil Warnock have both left troubled Palace

The rules were in place at the beginning of the season for all to see so their should be no qualms about their legitimacy.

The points deduction came because they entered administration and they find themselves in a shedload of trouble financially.

Serious problems have failed to be controlled and as a result, Palace face a daily battle to keep themselves alive - in a financial sense. Relegation could be just another nail in the coffin.

Although Palace don't receive a lot of money from being in the league, gate receipts would help them out massively and dropping a tier is bound to have a knock on effect with the fans.

Many will say that Palace don't deserve to go down because of the deduction and I would agree that the team are ten points better than the league would suggest.

However, those players were brought to the club via money that they didn't have and through "reckless" spending, so I can't agree that they don't deserve to go down because of that reason. The fact is, if Palace drop, it could be the beginning of the end for them.

Neil Warnock did them no favours when he left them for the money of QPR, and I doubt he will be a well liked figure at Hillsborough on Sunday afternoon. He isn't a well liked figure at any ground though.

But enough about Palace. They could be doomed if they get relegated and could be doomed if they stay up. What about their opponents in this nether region nailbiter?

Well, Sheffield Wednesday are a club with history of financial woes and they will be keen to avoid plummeting into the murky depths of League One again.

There are less worries surrounding Wednesday's financial situation should they get relegated but that is only because most of the attention has been centred on Palace.

Wednesday are by no means financially secure but they do appear to have plugged in a lot of the gaps that were haemorrhaging money.

With Alan Irvine in charge, the Owls have a man who is well liked at Soccer AM/MW Towers but that means diddly-squat in the world of football.

Wednesday are a Premier League club in all but name. They should be in the top-flight — not fighting to avoid relegation to League One.

Football doesn't give a monkey's about where a club should and shouldn't be. They only care about what happens on - and off - the pitch and this season, Wednesday have been poor.

Alan Irvine's Wednesday must win on Sunday or face relegation

Brian Laws was sacked earlier in the year - and later walked into a top-flight job - having led the club to an impressive 12 League games without a win — which included only three draws.

The Chief Owl turned to Alan Irvine but, after his honeymoon period, he has struggled to produce consistent results and now they find themselves in this situation.

It's not nice. Should they get relegated, they can't even rely on the fact that they should get promoted at the first attempt.

League One will be steam-rollered by Southampton next season - you heard it here first - and with the likes of Leeds, Millwall, and Charlton possibly still in the division, it will be a tall order to turn a losing club into winners.

Neither club can afford to get relegated. On the pitch or off it. Neither club is a name that should be associated with lower league football. Neither club should even have the disappointment of finding themselves in this situation.

But one of them will be in League One next year and one of them will still be in the Championship.

One of them will be on there knees begging for the footballing gods to give them a chance to redeem themselves while one will be thanking said gods and promising them a better year next time.

One of them will spend Sunday night trawling through their garbage looking for memories of better days and the other will be drinking Sangria from the naval of a hooker.

Either way, it is going to be extremely painful viewing for Wednesday and Palace fans. On the bright side, it will be hugely entertaining for the rest of us.

Turls' Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Crystal Palace
Lakes' Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Crystal Palace
Nobes' Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Crystal Palace

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