Patrick Vieira insisted he is confident Crystal Palace fans understand the process their team is going through after their winless 2023 continued with a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday.
Palace failed to register a shot on target in a match decided by Joachim Andersen’s 27th minute own goal and finished with 10 men after Cheick Doucoure collected two quick yellow cards around the hour mark.
It might have been a different story had the returning Wilfried Zaha not been fractionally offside before he scored with five minutes on the clock, but instead this was Palace’s ninth league match without a win, continuing a slide which is sucking them into the relegation battle.
It was another disappointing afternoon for Palace’s travelling support, but Vieira believes they understand this is part of a learning process for his young squad.
Asked if there had been boos from the away support, Vieira said: “I didn’t hear that. If you heard that, fans always want teams to do well and to win, especially when you travel away from home so the frustration, you always understand it.
“But the players tried hard and did their best to get back into the game, to score the goals to go back home with something.
“The fans know where we are and who we are as a football club, and what we want to achieve. There is a process that is in place.
“You have to look at the number of new players in the squad and how young they are, how many of them haven been playing in the Premier League and that experience, we know how important it is.
“They need to be exposed so we can learn. If we are all on the same page those players will be top players in the future.”
Villa are only one place above Palace in the league but now seven points above them, and looking up to the battle for European places rather than at the scrap below them.
Unai Emery’s first victory over Palace in four attempts was an important one given that they had surrendered leads to lose both of their previous home games 4-2.
“The manager’s set us a goal to try and win at home,” said Matty Cash, whose darting run and low cross from the right led to the only goal.
“The first target when he came in was to win away and I think we’ve done that, on the road we’ve been fantastic. And we need to do that at home.
“I think we need to be more resilient at home, it’s such an amazing stadium, such a big crowd every week.”
This was not a match that will live too long in the memory. Neither side registered a shot on target until the 74th minute, when John McGinn’s strike was hit straight at Vicente Guaita, and it would prove to be the only one.
But Cash said the performance was an important one in terms of grinding out a result.
“In games like that we have to be patient, obviously 1-0, we’re trying to build out, we’re trying to have a style and it takes time to do,” he said.
“Everyone has to be on the same page with that, but that takes time, we’ve got to be brave to do it, they’ve got to be brave with us.
“That’s how you pick up results, and I think here we showed good character.”