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Roy Hodgson is one of the most travelled English managers in football, having taken charge of 15 clubs, including Inter Milan, Oddevoid and Neuchâtel Xamax, as well as four national teams.
At 70 years old he is also one of the most experienced English managers in Football, yet ever since that game against Iceland, he has been one of the most ridiculed, lambasted and derided English managers too.
There is no doubt that Hodgson oversaw a new low for English football, losing to a nation boasting more volcanoes than professional footballers, and understandably in the aftermath of that defeat, Roy took a step out of the limelight.
It has been said that the England manager’s job is a poisoned chalice, a killer of careers and already at a pensionable age, many wondered if we would ever see Roy Hodgson in a dugout again, or if that fateful night in France would represent a depressing bookmark to one of the most interesting careers in English Football. Thankfully, it didn’t.
Last summer, on the back of Sam Allardyce’s departure, the Crystal Palace Chairman Steve Parish welcomed Frank De Boer to Selhurst park. Palace fans were promised beautiful, flowing football, three at the back and that fantastically vague concept – philosophy.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out. After 6 games Palace had failed to register a point, nor indeed, score a goal. Staring down the barrel of an historically calamitous season, Parish made the decision to send De Boer packing. In his place came Roy Hodgson, his arrival administering an end to Crystal Palace’s short fling with philosophy, back to training drills it was.
Roy’s first two games in charge of Palace were disappointing, a 5-0 loss to City followed by a 4-0 defeat by Manchester United. Yet, a shock 2-1 victory over Chelsea proved that all was not lost and that Palace were actually capable of scoring.
Refusing to faff around with any of that European nonsense, Hodgson reverted to a 4-4-2, in which Wilfried Zaha was afforded the freedom to provide the energy and spark that Christian Benteke apparently lost on his summer holiday to Butlins (he won’t be the first and he won’t be the last).
With his players well drilled on their responsibilities, in the space of a few short weeks, Palace’s side became well organised and difficult to beat. In fact, before their 4-1 collapse at Arsenal on January 20th, Palace had only been bettered once (also by Arsenal) since November 5th, that particular defeat coming against Tottenham.
Unsurprisingly, a resurgence up the table has accompanied Palace’s upturn in form and Roy Hodgson’s side currently sit 13th in the table, although remain just 3 points outside the relegation zone.
In many ways, Palace’s recent defeat by Arsenal was a great surprise, in stark contrast to the disciplined, dogged performances that have seen the side rise the table, yet it is testament to Roy himself that many have already disregarded the result as a one off, considering Palace one of the sides most likely to avert the dreaded drop.
And impressively, Hodgson has orchestrated this partially completed turnaround with the continued presence of a striker seemingly incapable of hitting a barn door. Back in his Villa days, Christian Benteke was one of the most destructive strikers in the League, nowadays he’s causing more destruction to his own side (namely the last-minute penalty he stole and then missed against Manchester City, costing his side 3 points).
The form of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend is the obvious antidote to a number nine who has scored just once in the League so far, yet neither Zaha nor Townsend has contributed particularly noteworthy numbers. Zaha has 4 goals and 1 assist, Townsend 1 goal and 4 assists. Instead, it is defensive midfielder and resident penalty taker Luka Milivojevic who sits atop Palace’s scoring sheet, with 5 goals.
The general rule of thumb in the Premier League is that with a striker who scores goals, you can do well, or at least stay up. Without one, you will struggle. The prime example of this is Southampton, a side with considerable quality in defence and midfield but without a striker capable of scoring the goals that secure points, as such the Saints are sitting in the bottom three.
Interestingly though, Southampton have scored more goals than Palace and conceded fewer, although the margins are admittedly fine. What it does reinforce though, is that Roy Hodgson is a man who understands his predicament and knows how to get out of it.
His side is by no means perfect, yes, but Crystal Palace stands every chance of surviving this season with him in charge. We suggest you keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks, as well as on betting sites like CrownBet to learn more about their chances. CrownBet has some up-to-date odds here that you can check out for the latest in the EPL.
The bottomline here is that Hodgson really knows his game. In 1995, he took over an Inter Milan side languishing at the bottom of Serie A, the season after he took them a third-place finish and the UEFA Cup final. In 2007, Hodgson took over a Fulham side destined for the drop, yet 4 wins in his final 5 games saw them survive.
As with Inter, Hodgson later took his Fulham side to the UEFA Cup final, following an incredible 4-1 victory over Juventus in the semi-final. Then in 2011, Hodgson took charge of a West Bromwich Albion side outside the relegation zone on goal difference. Sadly for Baggies fans no Europa League final came, but an 11th placed finish that season and a 10th placed finish the year after saw Hodgson get the England job.
It would be fair to say that higher profile jobs haven’t fared so well for Roy, with disappointments not only with England but Liverpool too. Yet at the helm of a club in peril, there are few better equipped to provide the clarity, direction and calmness that Hodgson has brought to Crystal Palace.
Written by Scott Pope
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