Thursday 13 December 2018

Roy Hodgson: Bleak times are behind Palace but there is still work to do

Roy Hodgson cut a relieved figure after Crystal Palace beat Burnley
Roy Hodgson cut a relieved figure after Crystal Palace beat Burnley

Roy Hodgson is relieved that Crystal Palace are closer to securing survival with their 1-0 defeat of Burnley - but he warned his team their Premier League status is still far from certain.

Palace lost their opening seven league fixtures, leading to Frank de Boer's sacking and Hodgson's appointment, and they were then widely considered to be near-certainties for relegation.

But Bakary Sako's first-half finish at Selhurst Park instead took them up to 12th and five points clear of the bottom three, and at a time when they have eight first-team players absent through injury.

Hodgson said: "It changes quickly. It became seven games, seven defeats. At that stage things were looking very, very bleak.

"It's nice now that things don't look as bleak. We should enjoy that but there will be many more games like (against Burnley) where you do enough, especially in the first half, to merit the three points but then you suffer in the second.

"I am very careful about statistics and I have no desire to start celebrating here in the middle of January. I said when I came here that the only thing that matters to me is where we are on the final day in May.

"The only thing that interests me is being one place above the relegation zone. Anything more than that would be a huge bonus."

Asked about Sako's latest contribution, his second goal in two games, the Eagles manager responded: "He's done well for himself. Before this season he spent a lot of time on the bench.

"He has done well very recently for us. He was in the team on merit - he chipped in with a goal, a good goal."

Palace could have scored twice more by half-time when Christian Benteke and Sako both narrowly missed, but thereafter Burnley improved.

The Lancashire club remain seventh after making a fine start to the season but they are without a victory from their past seven fixtures and risk undermining their previously impressive results.

Clarets manager Sean Dyche said: "It's the simplicity of Palace's play. We didn't really deal with that.

"They were better than us in the first half - but not by miles. Then the second half we were decent, and probably deserved to scratch a draw in the end.

"The margins were tight early in the season when we were winning a lot of games, and the margins are tight now.

"We've moved a long way from where we were last season - particularly away from home.

"I'm not overly disappointed. I'm certainly not disappointed when you look at the league table. We have to make (the results) come our way.

"'Oh, we will wait for it to come our way'. No. The Premier League is not like that. It's just not like that."

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