Saturday 15 December 2018

Hodgson hoping to emulate past success as Palace attempt to stave off relegation

The former England boss guided Fulham and West Brom to Premier League safety during his time in charge of those clubs.

Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson

By Declan Warrington, Press Association Sport

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is targeting the same strong end to the season with which he led both Fulham and West Brom to Premier League survival.

The 70-year-old has watched his team, undermined by a succession of injuries and the improving form of their rivals, return to the division’s bottom three having already once fought their way to mid-table.

Hodgson had inspired a remarkable improvement after Palace lost their opening seven league fixtures without scoring a solitary goal, but the threat of relegation has again grown and largely because that start to the season has left them with so little margin for error.

Palace host Manchester United on Monday before further fixtures with Chelsea, Huddersfield and Liverpool by the end of the month, after when they face a kinder run against Bournemouth, Brighton, Watford, Leicester, Stoke and West Brom.

Having guided Fulham to survival on the final day of the 2007-08 season and then Albion to safety four years later having only been appointed as late in the season as February, Hodgson was asked if Palace would need to do similarly, and he said: “We will, there is no doubt about that.

“Any teams who are going to avoid relegation will have strong ends to the season. You have got to string results together. I remember both of those periods very strongly. The one at Fulham was more dramatic because it went to the last day.

“The West Brom one was done a bit less dramatically so we did not feel the sword was hanging over us quite as long as at Fulham.

“On both occasions I remember the enormous joy and satisfaction that the players and the whole club took, having overcome a very difficult obstacle in front of them and come out the other side smelling of roses.

“There is no alternative but to keep your nerve and to remain as calm as you can.”

Hodgson’s limited options have been strengthened by the returns to fitness of Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp and the arrival on a short-term contract of goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri.

Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho, Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek remain absent through injury, with Palace preparing for one of the division’s strongest teams, even if United’s new signing Alexis Sanchez remains the subject of intense scrutiny.

The Chile forward has scored just once in seven appearances since swapping Arsenal for Old Trafford in January but Hodgson is well aware of the threat he poses.

“He’s a very good player,” Hodgson said.

“We know he can score. We know he can create. We know he is a very busy, hard-working player who is not going to give up easily. If you do get the ball from him he’s going to be at you again to try and win it back, which is a very good quality, and he is experienced.

“He cost an awful lot of money to make Manchester United a better team. I just presume that the extra scrutiny he is receiving is down to the fact it was such a major high-profile transfer at the end of the transfer window. There’s a bit more scrutiny on the players that have cost the big money.”

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