It took 15 appearances, 826 minutes and a little over four months but Jordan Ayew is finally off the mark for Crystal Palace.
Ayew was expected to provide the goals for Palace when he joined last August on a season-long loan on the back of top-scoring with 11-goals (in all competitions) for relegated Swansea City.
Interestingly, Palace became the Ghanaian’s fifth club in four years after stints with Lorient, Aston Villa and Swansea City.
However, tactics combined with a failure to earn the trust of Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson and a lack of composure in front of goal has meant the former Marseille trainee has found it difficult to settle and secure a place in the Palace first team.
Of the 20 games that he has been available for selection, the player who forced a move away from Swansea by refusing to train has started nine and four as a substitute.
And when he has been on the pitch, his performances thus far would have done little to convince Palace to make the loan permanent at a reported fee of €8million.
Ayew has been restricted to the bench or substitute appearances in recent weeks as Ivorian Wilfried Zaha – usually deployed as a wide forward has started up front with compatriot Jeffrey Schlupp and Andros Townsend occupying the flanks.
He played only two minuted of Palace’s shock 3-2 win over Manchester City on December 22 and was an unused substitute for the two games that followed (Cardiff and Chelsea) before the Wolverhampton Wanderers game yesterday.
New Year, New Ayew
However, on Wednesday night when handed his first start of the New Year away at giant killers Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ayew grabbed his opportunity by scoring the opener which sparked Palace’s 2-0 victory.
Whoscored gave him the highest rating of any player on the pitch – 8.1, for an aggressive performance which saw him harass the Wolves centre-backs Willy Boly and Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett at any turn and earned his praise for Hodgson.
With seven minutes of normal time to end the contest, Ayew showed composure to trap an errant shot by Patrick Van Aanholt with his right foot and slammed home past Rui Patricio with his left foot from just outside the six-yard box.
Palace skipper Luka Milivojevic secured the result from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time after Wilfried Zaha was brought down by Ryan Bennett. The result moved Palace to 14th place on 22 points – six points outside the relegation zone.
Describing the victory as a ‘big win’ in a post-match interview, Ayew said he was not concerned about his failure to find the target.
“No not at all, I knew it would come and I have had the support from everyone at the club so I haven’t had any pressure and the most important thing is for the team to win and get the points, which is my main focus. We need to keep on improving and that’s what we will do, working hard at the training ground and just concentrating on getting points,” Ayew said in an interview with cpfc.co.uk.
“It’s a big win and good for our confidence after losing at home, it was important for us to bounce back and improve our league position so congratulations to all the lads”.
The former Aston Villa striker added that he was waiting for the opportunity to start and the New Year means his career has taken a turn for the better.
“It’s a big win and good for our confidence after losing at home, it was important for us to bounce back and improve our league position so congratulations to all the lads. I’m pleased for myself, my family, for our fans and my fans in Ghana and I would like to thank the coach for giving me the opportunity. I was waiting for this moment and now it has come at the start of the New Year means new things, positives and three points so it’s good.”
“It is important to be an opportunist, making things happen and scoring goals, this is what I try and do and luckily today I was successful. I thank God and will just keep on working hard.”
The Palace coach praised Ayew for his all-round display adding that the goal was just reward for his graft.
“He’s done a lot of good work, and did a lot of good work before the goal with his defending, his stretching of the defence and his hold-up play, but as a forward you do need goals,” the veteran English trainer said.
“People are only going to regard you as a good forward on that and he’s had to wait a while for one, but if anyone deserved the goal tonight it was him and he took it extremely well.”
Some Palace fans feared the worst when he joined the team, given the fact that his last four clubs, Sochaux, Lorient, Aston Villa and Swansea have all been relegated.
But if Jordan is able to build on his start to 2019, his reputation as a relegation magnet is sure to banished this year.
Jordan will be hoping to find the target when Palace host Watford on January 12 at Selhurst Park in the English Premier League.