17 March ~ The future of Crystal Palace appears to be anything but straightforward at the moment and, for the first time this season, the club's fans are coming to terms with the fact that their place in the Championship is under genuine threat. With Palace currently in the hands of administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, the loss of Neil Warnock to QPR couldn't have come at a worse time. The task of securing a new owner for the club was put to one side as frantic phone calls were made in an attempt to find a coach who was willing to steady what is already an extremely unstable ship.
The announcement of Paul Hart in his third managerial role this season alone, didn't fill me with a great sense of hope. Many fans believed that club hero Steve Coppell was set to return in what would have been his fifth spell as manager. Instead they were left with a trio that included another two legends of yesteryear, with Dougie Freedman and John Pemberton arriving as assistants. Since their arrival at Selhurst Park the results have been far from groundbreaking. A hard-fought home victory against Sheffield Utd in their first game in charge has been followed by one draw and two losses, the latest of which came at the hands of play-off chasing Leicester City last night.
We find ourselves languishing in 21st place and outside of the bottom three on goal difference, while the remaining fixtures make for extremely unpleasant reading. Four of our next five games are away from home, three of which are against sides in the top half of the table in Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough. As if that wasn't enough for Palace fans to agonise over, we also face the prospect of a journey to Hillsborough on the last day of the season in what is looking more and more like a proverbial relegation six-pointer as each set of results pass by.
The search for a new owner remains ongoing with the administrator recently commenting that: "We have a number of individuals who have put forward an interest at this stage but no firm proof of funding has come forward." This statement is one which comes as no surprise to supporters who have been saddled with feelings of uncertainty over the club's future for over a year, when rumours of Simon Jordan's cash flow problems first surfaced in 2008.
With only ten games left for the club to save ourselves from the drop there will need to be a drastic turnaround in the teams fortunes on the pitch in the coming weeks. With Dougie Freedman, the architect of the club's last great escape in 2001, now on the staff, I am left desperately hoping that he can inspire the current group of players to follow his example and steer us to safety once again. Dan Cook