Roy Hodgson insists that there is no lack of belief in Crystal Palace’s side when they are deprived of Wilfried Zaha – with the talismanic attacker set to miss Monday’s grudge clash at Brighton.
The Eagles have lost 18 of the last 20 matches that the Ivory Coast international has missed.
Zaha suffered a hamstring injury at Newcastle United and Palace have gone on to perform poorly in defeats to Leeds United and Burnley.
Eagles manager Roy Hodgson was asked if the rest of his playing squad were stung by the accusation they are a one-man team. He replied: “They will be the first to tell you that we appreciate Wilf and we appreciate how much he has done for the club over the years – how good it is to have him in the team.
“While I would say we can win without him, we are good enough – unfortunately the statistics work against us in that respect. Until such time as we do start winning games regularly when Wilf is injured, we’ll have to live with the criticism, or the observation, because it is not something we can react against.
“It is something we have to live with, maybe for another few matches to come. It really is a question of the players who get the chance to play making certain they go out and get the result, so we can at least for a period time lay that criticism or observation to rest.
“I don’t see people going into the game thinking or fearing we’re not going to win this one because Wilf is not here.
“I don’t see the players thinking ‘we’ve got no chance because Wilf’s not here’. Quite the opposite, sometimes I see an extra motivation from people saying: ‘Look, as much as we love Wilf and appreciate what he does – it’s a bit of a negative on the rest of us to bear this criticism if we’re not winning’.
“I would say it adds to the motivation, rather than detracts from it.
“Football matches and football results are judged on certain criteria. One of the criteria is if you’re winning then you’re playing well and if you’re losing you are playing badly. If you’re winning, the team spirit is fantastic, the motivation is high – everyone is doing their level best, showing great pride, determination and love of the club. You’re losing and they don’t care enough, they don’t work hard enough, they don’t give enough. That’s what we, as coaches and managers, need to live with and try to maintain some sort of equilibrium.
“But there is no doubt that the criticism with regard to the team not winning without Wilf is one which stings throughout the playing staff. The sooner we can put it right, the better. Or the sooner Wilf gets back will also work in our favour because we won’t have the criticism anymore.”
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