Selhurst Soapbox: Delaney is the right man, in the right place, at the right time
09:34 30 November 2012
“Sometimes, there’s a man,” says the Cowboy at the start of Coen Brothers cult classic movie The Big Lebowski. “He’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.” For Damien Delaney that time is now and the place is Crystal Palace.
About our Blogger
Name: Simon Campbell
Twitter handle: @Si_Campbell_
Regular attendee/Viewer from abroad
Favourite player: Current, Wilf Zaha
Most memorable game: Crystal Palace 5 Brighton 0
Predicted finish: 8th
Whether it is the playing staff or system at a new club, the location, or something in a player’s social life - sometimes things just click. The stars align in just such a way that a player suddenly produces the best form of his career. So it is for Delaney now. And Palace are reaping the benefits.
Delaney had long been on the radar of various Palace managers before he joined earlier this season. Peter Taylor had chased him a few years back but it was Dougie Freedman that eventually brought him to the club. His move from Ipswich was initially only until January though.
"Sometimes things just click. The stars align in just such a way that a player suddenly produces the best form of his career. So it is for Delaney now."
It was on good authority that Delaney would then head west to join the Major League Soccer gold rush in America. It is to Palace’s credit that he has forsaken this dream and instead hitched his wagon to Ian Hollloway’s promotion chase.
The news that he has signed a contract until 2014 shows his faith and commitment to the cause. If he can reach the Premier League with Palace it will be the highlight of a career that has seen him capped five times by Ireland but remained something of an unfulfilled talent.
This season he has brought a muscular authority to the Palace defence. He is a calming influence - the other members of the back four look relaxed and confident beside him. Peter Ramage is almost unrecognizable now and plays like a proper centre half - perhaps Delaney’s greatest achievement.
So well do the duo complement each other that their partnership bears favorable comparison with any of the recent pairings at the heart of the Palace defence. Not since Chris Coleman and Richard Shaw have a duo looked so assured playing together.
Delaney and Ramage are certainly helped by defending in a team that is playing well despite losing their unbeaten run to Leeds last weekend. The Eagles also have Mile Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi, the Championship’s best central midfield pairing, protecting them.
But as it stands it is difficult to see a way into the team for club captain Paddy McCarthy and Danny Gabbidon, the player with the most Premier League experience in the current squad, when they return to fitness.
It is a position that few will have envisaged at the start of the season but suddenly a Palace team without Delaney and Ramage at its heart doesn’t bare thinking about. They fit right in there.