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Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace did what was almost unthinkable this weekend.
In beating Antonio Conte’s champion Chelsea, they ended a record-breaking run of seven matches without a goal scored or a point won. Had Hodgson fallen to another shutout defeat, he would have been the second manager in Premier League history to lose his first four without scoring.
The first, of course, was Frank de Boer.
Hodgson is a veteran of management, and has worked across a variety of countries, sampling different footballing cultures along the way. His tenure as England manager brought criticism – some of it warranted – but his reputation took an unjust downturn.
The Crystal Palace manager has had 20 permanent managerial jobs, with his career in the dugout beginning in the 1970s. Despite this, the easy criticism of him as old-fashioned is wider of the mark than you may expect for a man into his 70s.
His woeful time with Liverpool lingers like a grey cloud over his name, but Hodgson’s spells with Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are what should be remembered.
Safe, intelligent and a pragmatist
A safe pair of hands at worst, and an intelligent, respectable, pragmatist at his best.
His unenviable opening fixtures at Palace meant a poor start was always probable, but the victory over Chelsea was an example of what Hodgson can bring to the Eagles. He will not be reinventing the footballing philosophy at Selhurst like de Boer was expected to, but results will come.
The greatest frustration with this Palace team is that it is not for a lack of talent. Their squad is not within the three weakest in the league, and should be comfortable enough this season.
That’s not going to be the case after this disastrous start, though there are few better than Hodgson to bring the best out of this unit.
A manager that deserves more appreciation
Puzzling choices with England and overseeing a low point for Liverpool are the main associations made with Hodgson. In reality, Palace hired a manager worthy of appreciation.
That appreciation will grow rapidly if he can turn a potentially nightmare campaign around for the London club.
Between now and Christmas, Palace play a host of teams who they have a reasonable chance of beating.
With only five points separating them from 17th place, Hodgson could guide his side out of the bottom three by the festive period.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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