BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Roy Hodgson has described the effort put in by his injury-hit Crystal Palace side as “incredible” – but also conceding that their form since the Premier League resumed was “really, really bad”.
The Eagles stopped a run of seven straight defeats with a 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Sunday.
Palace finished the campaign in 14th on 43 points – their second-lowest position since they returned to the top-flight in 2013.
It was also their lowest-ever total of goals (31) scored since the top-flight was rebranded as the Premier League in 1992 – their previous worst was 33 goals in the 2013-14 campaign.
“It’s been a very bad Covid period for us, really, really bad – not just in terms of results but in terms of the burden we’ve had to face,” said manager Hodgson.
The Eagles won one, drew one and lost seven after Project Restart.
“It was always going to be difficult,” said Hodgson. “All these games coming so quickly one after the other, with the squad that we have, the somewhat, ageing squad that we have. And also, the fact that we don’t have a long bench, we’re far from it.
“To lose as many players as we have done during that period of time and then have to go out week after week and do it against the top teams in the country – because it’s not even as if we’ve been playing with teams around our neck of the woods for the best part, we’ve been playing against the very, very top teams – I think it’s incredible that the players have done what they could do.”
Hodgson has been without a number of key players for large parts of the season, mainly in defence with varying injuries to Patrick van Aanholt, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Gary Cahill, Jeffrey Schlupp, Luka Milivojevic and Martin Kelly amongst others.
And despite the season ending with a poor run of results, the manager prefers to look at the performances he saw his fit players deliver.
“We lost at Wolverhampton, but I don’t seriously believe we were in any way outplayed or in any way inferior to them over the 90 minutes, but we lost and today we’ve come out against a similar team, a team in the Europa places, and done the same again and this time, fortunately, we didn’t lose,” he said.
“Both performances for me were pretty similar and if you go back a couple of performances still, against Manchester United and Chelsea, the teams even higher up in the hierarchy, we did even better still.
“So, these players for me have done a stupendous job; they’ve done it against all the odds, and they’ve done it, unfortunately, without any real help we could give them in terms of rest and recovery and the chance to substitute.”
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