I Call That A BargainOur terrible performance against Leicester had little encouragement we could take from it. Outperformed in all areas, admittedly by an excellent well-motivated team, all we can do is hope today’s game is better without there being any reason to think it might be.We have reached a point where despite a fully-populated squad there are numerous positions we are extremely weak in – mostly up front and wide midfield but also right across our defensive line. The reason is the lesser-understood twin to the persuasion we use on prospective signings that if they do well we can sell them on to a bigger club. We buy players not because there is a need for the type of player they are, but because we sense the chance to make a big profit. When asked this week about his plans for January, Arsene Wenger said he loved a bargain but he wasn’t going to buy two tellies on Black Friday because he doesn’t need them. In contrast, we get anything cheap we can lob onto ebay, whether we need them ourselves or not. So we end up with loads of central midfielders but apparently there’s a chance a striker, Yoan Gouffran, will play as a defensive midfielder today. Meanwhile, someone who when bought was a defensive midfielder, Moussa Sissoko, is deemed more suitable to play right wing. We have no credible options at full back, centre-half and striker so there is no competition in those positions. Why haven’t these problems been addressed over the last 5 or 6 transfer windows? I’d say because we haven’t tried to, because that’s not our priority. What a sham.Should Auld Aquaintance Be ForgotI’ve heard a number of people saying recently that Alan Pardew, manager of today’s opponents, wasn’t as bad as we portrayed him at the time. I’ll give him this: our problems while he was manager weren’t entirely of his own making. He wasn’t given the players he wanted (remembering who they were I’m quite glad about that), and our players certainly can’t be absolved of blame themselves either. They have failed now under 3 different managers, over the last 3 seasons and the current one. We didn’t try to build on the single season of success you could say Pardew had here, something he had no say in.Pardew’s big fault was that he could only set his teams up one way ( we all know what that was so I won’t bother expanding).This was the most clearly-signposted trap in history. If the opposition chose not to walk into it he had no answer and between Summer 2012 and Christmas 2014 very few fell for it. Sticking to the plan over that period was more denial of the truth than dogged perseverance.None of this means I’d be surprised to see us lose today. We are as bad as we ever were whereas Palace’s squad and their pace probably suit Pardew’s breaking tactics better than ours ever did.Tea Cup Chuckers Our Club Needs YouSteve McClaren strikes me as a thoughtful kind of man. He would probably be offended to hear a suggestion he needs to lose his rag a bit more. Last week’s ineffectual performance deserved just that though, and It’d be very interesting to hear what happened at half time against Leicester. Tactical instruction is all very well but sometimes players need to be yelled at unfairly and if McClaren’s not the man to do it he needs to employ someone to act as bad cop very quickly. We certainly need someone to smash a few tea cups in that dressing-room and tell a few home truths.I hear there have been furious disagreements at the training ground this week, and that’s bee portrayed as the staff getting tough. Well I believe when a manager is so upset he raises his voice, players need to zip up their mouths and listen and that evidently hasn’t happened. Perhaps what’s needed is someone of the ilk of John Sitton to do the telling, shown here tearing a strip off his Orient players during a half time break.