BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
The message from SE25 in recent weeks has been that success for Crystal Palace this elongated season was an early avoidance of relegation and an eighth-successive Premier League season to look forward.
This is despite a miserable recent run which has seen Roy Hodgson’s side lose their last seven games, sinking to 14th in the table, undoing a job which had seen them rise to the top half of the table before the league shut down due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“In the season, unfortunately, you have spells, and this is a particularly bad one,” Hodgson told the South London Press.
“Most of the time in the previous two years I’ve been at the club [a good] spell’s come at the end which has always given a fine degree of positivity. For the best part of the [preceding] season it’s been doom and gloom and fear and worry about relegation and then suddenly we’ve had a spell at the end.
“One year we won four of the last five to take us up to about 10th or 11th place when basically we’ve never been outside of the bottom four through the season.
“But people will judge seasons as they want to judge them, there’s not much you can do about that, but, realistically we have to accept that this has been a tough time.”
With a win away at Bournemouth straight after the Covid-19 outbreak even Hodgson talked about the possibility of pushing into a Europa League spot, but injuries, form and a successive UEFA appeal from Manchester City put paid to that.
“The expectations anyway, even with a full squad, that you’re going to kick on in this Covid period now with the size of your squad, but with all your top players fit, and get a Europa League place, I always thought that was asking a bit too much of us, but, of course, we didn’t want to sink as far as we’ve sunk while losing so many games, but there’s been so many reasons for it.
“But what it has highlighted, basically, is the fact that this squad – which we’ve talked about for such a long period of time internally – what it needs, it’s really highlighted that now,” he added.
“I am hoping that will provoke the necessary action to make certain that next season the squad will be given a better chance to compete right the way through and to make certain, like this season, that we stay well away from the relegation zone and that we can continue and maintain that form to maybe get us into the top half of the table, that’s got to be our goal.”
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