• New Palace manager bemoans lack of time to make impact
• 'We have to bring in one or two players'
According to one south London newspaper, aliens have told a Bromley medium who claims she used to be Joan of Arc that Tony Pulis will keep Crystal Palace up this season. The club's new manager gave the impression he was somewhat less convinced after a performance of much sweat but minimal inspiration against a Norwich City side with enough about them to suggest they will ease away from the relegation zone sooner rather than later.
Pulis's theme was time, specifically the lack of it spent with the players during the close season and how much he would need before the team bore his almost invariably effective stamp. "A few years" was his response when asked the latter question and, while it was something of a throwaway line, the sense was it may not have been entirely a joke.
He certainly has no time this week, with West Ham coming to Selhurst Park on Tuesday and Cardiff City on Saturday, two of the teams with which Pulis said Palace must compete. "I think there are seven teams in the Premier League who are miles away from where we are at the moment and you're hoping and praying you pick points up against the rest.
"But you know, week by week you have to approach every game in a positive manner and the players were really positive. We're not miles off. We were inches away from getting a result here."
So they were, particularly when the full-back Martin Olsson somehow managed to head Barry Bannan's shot off the line on to the underside of the bar and away only a few minutes after Norwich had taken the lead.
A fine goal it was, too. Russell Martin sent the busy Nathan Redmond scurrying down the right, the winger played the ball inside to Johan Elmander and, while the Swede's pass across the penalty area to find Wes Hoolahan in space at the far post did not look entirely intended, the manner in which Hoolahan fooled the Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni by immediately side-footing the ball back across the six-yard line to Gary Hooper, and the coolness with which Hooper took a touch before steering the ball into the net, were worthy of a winner.
It is also worth pointing out that Elmander had been just as unfortunate as Bannan, perhaps even more so given the skilfulness of the flick that diverted Hoolahan's free-kick over Speroni and against the underside of the bar.
Palace never gave up though, and the last few minutes saw Sébastian Bassong turn Dean Moxey's low, driven cross over his own bar before Cameron Jerome miskicked when a loose ball sat up nicely for him just a few yards from goal.
It was significant that for all Pulis praised his players' effort and commitment, he said he had been impressed by their quality "at times".
"There were certain areas and situations which we need to improve and we have to bring one or two players in; I think that's important and everyone understands that," said Pulis, citing as an example signing James Beattie for Stoke City from Sheffield United in January 2009, when the Potters were one place and one point above the relegation zone. Beattie went on to score seven goals in 15 appearances that season, playing a vital role in keeping them up.
For the Norwich manager, Chris Hughton, a second consecutive home win brought welcome relief, though it seemed remarkable that this was the influential Hoolahan's first Premier League start of the season – the Republic of Ireland international would have been on the bench at best had City not lost Robert Snodgrass to injury during the week.
"I've been trying different things, but we have good competition in the squad and when you have someone like Wes, who comes in without having in effect played this season, and performs as he does, that's the sort of thing you need at a football club," said Hughton.
Man of the match Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City)