Sport Soccer

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Roy Hodgson surprised by speed of Crystal Palace's revival

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has been delighted by his side's progress.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has been delighted by his side's progress.

Roy Hodgson admits he did not expect Crystal Palace to be starting the second half of the Premier League season outside the relegation zone.

Palace were rock bottom with no points and no goals after four games when Hodgson was appointed manager following Frank de Boer's short-lived reign.

Hodgson lost his first three games in charge - 1-0, 5-0 and 4-0 - but since then Palace have taken 18 points from 12 games to climb into 16th place and two points above the drop zone.

"We're trying to chip away at those first seven games when we had zero points," Hodgson said after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Swansea.

"It's an enormous handicap to give yourself and have a big minus goal difference as well.

"We needed big performances to get on an even keel, and that's what we've done in the last two or three months.

"We've brought ourselves into a pack of teams who have to look over their shoulders and be worried that the spectre of relegation is not leading them.

"I expected it to take a lot longer to get ourselves into contention to the other teams.

"But we know there's an awful long way to go and that it's going to be a fight for every point until the end of the season."

Palace extended the longest unbeaten run in their Premier League history to eight games at Swansea.

The excellent Ruben Loftus-Cheek was felled on the hour by Federico Fernandez and Luka Milivojevic converted from the penalty spot.

But Jordan Ayew's terrific 77th-minute strike denied Palace a third straight victory.

"We can't be thinking we're going to put a run of four or five victories together and beat every team put in front of us," Hodgson said.

"The league is such that two straight defeats is just around the corner and they can become three, four, five defeats.

"Look at Watford, they were talking about European football a few games ago.

"But now they've lost four games on the bounce and are not that far ahead of us.

"Being a form team interests me less than playing with the intensity and the defensive discipline that we've had.

"We need that because we have got some good attacking players and I trust them to score as the season goes on."

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