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The arrival of Roy Hodgson failed to reignite Crystal Palace’s season as the Eagles slumped to a fifth straight defeat at home to Southampton on Saturday.
The dreadful run has already cost Frank De Boer his job and has left Palace rock bottom, with zero points. They have yet to score a single goal in the Premiership this season and they have conceded eight.
The next three fixtures make extremely grim reading for Eagles fans: Man City away, Man Utd away and then Chelsea at Selhurst Park. The three favourites for the title are all expected to beat Palace comfortably and they should go into mid-October with zero points from eight games, staring relegation in the face.
Perhaps Palace were wrong to sack De Boer so soon into his tenure. It might have been better to give him four more games and sack him after the tough games against City, Utd and Chelsea were behind them.
If he had gained any points it would have been a bonus, and they could have argued they had given him a fair crack at Premiership life. Throwing 70-year-old Hodgson into the deep end with such a brutal run of fixtures ahead of him was pretty cruel, and he could grow demoralised if they do lose their next three matches.
Check out Bovada, a well-respected bookmaker with great reviews, and you will see that they are a whopping 18/1 to beat Man City. It is not going to happen, and they will expect to be thoroughly thrashed by Utd and Chelsea too.
But what is done is done and Palace have to set about turning around their season by tightening defensively, improving their creativity and giving the fans something to cheer by sticking the ball in the back of the net.
Success at West Brom and Fulham
Hodgson struggled at Liverpool, but was superb at Fulham and West Brom – clubs of a similar stature to Palace at the time. He could be a shrewd appointment and is certainly less risky than De Boer.
The Dutchman could have gone either way – disastrous or a stroke of genius – as he tried to turn a bunch of scrappy, battle-hardened players moulded in the Sam Allardyce style into a team capable of playing total football in the space of just one summer.
As it happened, the decision was a disaster and Palace let De Boer go just four games into his reign. Hodgson knows the English game inside out from his time as manager of the national team and his long and varied Premiership career.
Whether he still has the fire in his belly at the age of 70 to cope with the rigours of a relegation battle will determine how successful he is.
Harry Redknapp, also 70, was one of the best managers in the country, but had a nightmare spell as Birmingham manager and was duly sacked this month. Many questioned whether he should have been on the golf course and the same questions will be directed at Hodgson.
There is still hope
Palace are now the outright favourites to be relegated and that makes sense. You can get 10/11 on them going down, and that is a worrying development for Palace fans.
However, there is still hope. Hodgson is a Croydon native and he could relish the chance to save his local club. This is also a team that has pulled off several great escapes in recent years, under Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew.
They have some very good players: Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha, Patrick van Aanholt and Yohan Cabaye have enough quality between them to get plenty of goals over the course of the season. Big things are expected of Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield, while Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho could form a really strong defensive partnership.
It will require expert management to get them to gel, lift their spirits and turn around their fortunes, and Hodgson seems a better candidate than De Boer. Their rivals are not infallible and you would expect the likes of Huddersfield and Brighton to slide down the table, while teams like Swansea and Watford could get dragged into it.
It is a long old season and there is still time, but you will have to judge Hodgson on what he does after the Chelsea game, not before.
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