Big Sam has work to do
Allardyce has work to do as Palace pay price for tale of two halves
|Troy Deeney 71-pen||Yohan Cabaye 26|
Winding the dial back was what Crystal Palace had demanded from Sam Allardyce.
Judging by the tale of two halves in his side's 1-1 draw with Watford last night, he will need more than a time machine to reverse the damage incurred during Alan Pardew's reign.
Allardyce would have faced far less onerous tasks than attempting to place the brakes on the slump of a side which had won just one of their previous 11 games in the space of less than two days.
For 45 minutes, the disgraced former England manager had looked set to again be the exception to the game's golden rulebook.
His managerial career has been founded on a belief that the odds have been perennially and unfairly stacked against him.
For a time, he openly floated the idea that he was English football's answer to Jose Mourinho.
Claiming that he would have been "better suited" to Real Madrid or Inter Milan and be hailed a "tactical genius" if his surname had sounded more exotic sounding, with the peppering of some additional vowels, could not have pointed any greater to his own messiah complex.
Sparing no fewer than five of his former clubs from the ignominy of relegation, however, shows why Allardyce remains the EPL's ultimate survival specialist even after his lifelong dream of managing England ended in such disgraced fashion, after just 67 brief days.
Yet, the feel-good factor that will invariably return to Selhurst Park cannot remedy a malaise which has seen two points remain the key difference between Palace's place in and above the drop zone.
With the point, the Eagles are 17th, not taking into account the results of the later games last night.
Where a beleaguered Pardew had attempted to embrace a more expansive brand of football, emphasised by a front-loaded side, Allardyce preferred to take things back to basics.
He ended the imbalance of his predecessor by restoring Mathieu Flamini to provide a compact alternative to Joe Ledley and James McArthur, while Andros Townsend also returned in the latter's place to the level of width which Palace had sorely lacked under Pardew this season.
The winger had fallen out of favour with Pardew since arriving from Newcastle last summer, but appeared reborn either side of paving the way for Yohan Cabaye to open the scoring.
It proved to be a change which worked twofold - Wilfried Zaha also appeared rejuvenated as he regularly overcame, Watford's fullbacks with ease throughout the encounter.
A much-needed sense of discipline also returned to Palace's backline that largely bore a greater resemblance to its robust set-up under Tony Pulis, the EPL's other survival specialist, than its porous present-day incarnation over which Pardew had presided.
There was a greater authority in Wayne Hennessey's collection of the hosts' crosses, but the analysis and inquisition over Damien Delaney conceding a deflating second-half penalty will override the shoots of optimism that would have greeted a debut victory for Allardyce.
Watford's ability to seize a stranglehold of the game after the interval, despite the Eagles' reinforced holding position and counter-attacking play, will also require further scrutiny.
So, too, will Christian Benteke's weak penalty in the 37th minute, which should have placed as much distance as the geographic yardstick between Vicarage Road and its visitors.
Such profligacy should be far beyond a £30-million (S$53.3m) striker, not least a full-fledged Belgium international.
Inheriting such an embarrassment of riches, arguably greater than any other side he has managed, will allow Allardyce to enforce his core principles of winning with simplicity over style in the long run.
But an unprecedented sixth "Great Escape" is unlikely to be an overnight success.