Dwight Gayle has been the subject of constant speculation over the past couple of weeks regarding his future at Selhurst Park. Palace’s manager Alan Pardew has been forthcoming in his views about Gayle, saying: “He came to see me and said he wants to move on and I said ‘OK’.”
Earlier in the transfer window, reports surfaced suggesting the former Peterborough striker could be on the way to Bristol City, in a fee reported to be in the region of £8m – that has now cooled. But at the time Pardew spoke about how he saw Gayle’s position at SE25: “That decision isn’t mine or the club’s – its Dwight’s. It’s about the boy understanding where the best scenario is for him and at the moment it’s not here.”
Given the summer revamp at the club, plenty of new faces have come in, Connor Wickham arrived from Sunderland, record signing Yohan Cabaye joined from PSG, Alex McCarthy was signed, and free-agent Bakary Sako who enjoyed a fantastic debut against Aston Villa this past weekend have put Gayle’s chances in the first team in serious doubt.
I just want to have a look at Gayle and whether it is the right time to let such a promising and natural-born finisher depart the club. I hope Palace fans don’t forget that Gayle was our top scorer last season with 10 goals, and even then he wasn’t first choice – I am pretty sure a first choice Gayle would certainly hit 15 goals in a season; in the box he is predatory. The boy just needs game time, and at the moment it is looking increasingly unlikely that he is going to get that at Palace this year. It seems to me Pardew just doesn’t want that type of striker in his ranks, although he did come on against Villa last weekend and changed the dynamic of Palace’s attack.
Losing a player like him will be bad for the club in the long run. I have no doubts that he will progress into a class centre-forward. But it will also be mightily disappointing for the fans; as he is a firm fan favourite at Palace.
He is a natural-born finisher who needs to play through the middle – in the right setup Gayle will be absolutely lethal. It is just a shame that Palace have never been suited to his strengths…or is the question that we are suited to his strengths but we don’t even know it? I have spoken to many fans which are in agreement with Pardew suggesting Palace are just not suited to Gayle and we should cut our losses and move on. But I totally disagree; after all, we at Palace have become accustomed to fantastic finishers over the years.
I’ll roll a few off the tongue: Ian Wright, Mark Bright, Clinton Morrison, Dougie Freedman, and Andrew Johnson to name a few – I hope you get my gist – these are players that we fans have grown up with. They scored goals for fun at Palace, and I personally believe Gayle could be regarded in the same company as these legends if he was just given a run in the team. And not just a run in the team, but playing in his correct position which is centre-forward week in, week out.
All this talk of Palace not being suited to his strengths is nonsense; I feel we now have the players that could compliment his style of play. I went to watch Palace quite a few times last season, and when Gayle played it was never in his correct position – it was always out wide. And out there his potential and threat is wasted. And then playing up top on his own, he is frozen out of the game, as he’s not a big target man.
But I reckon if he could play with a partner up top he will thrive – but Palace just didn’t play that way last season, and I don’t expect them to change too much this season, as it worked well and contributed to the club finishing in the top ten.
But now with the options we have up-front we could be suited to Gayle’s type of play. Pardew has spoken of Palace having the ability to mix things up this season thanks to the new signings – so I don’t see any harm in going for a traditional 4-4-2 away from home. With Wickham and Glenn Murray at our disposal a big man, little man partnership could flourish – in the Premier League it is something clubs need to have the ability to do, and that is to adapt when coming up against different opposition. Last season at times we were too rigid, with our wide players and one up top, it worked on a lot of occasions but now with Cabaye pulling the strings in the centre, we have the personnel to be flexible.
It is such a tricky yet debatable subject on Gayle, he is certainly good enough for Palace’s team, but he just hasn’t been given the opportunities to prove that as of yet. Whether Gayle will stay is another matter, and with the transfer window shutting soon, Palace fans should brace themselves for last-minute drama.