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Time might soon be up for Roy Hodgson as Crystal Palace boss – but win at Brighton heads off talk of immediate change


The noise ahead of Monday’s grudge match on the South Coast was that a defeat – particularly a bad one – could spell the end for Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace. Now it is hard to see him not staying in his job until at least the end of the season.

Whether the Eagles hierarchy feel that it will be time for a managerial change in the summer – when Hodgson’s contract expires – is a subject of debate.

There has been no public comment on the matter by chairman Steve Parish. But the fact the issue has not been resolved does suggest that a decision over whether to hand a new deal to the former England head coach, who turns 74 in August, is not a cut and dried one.

If Hodgson does end up going then he can walk away with his head held high.

Monday night’s 2-1 victory at Brighton pushed Palace on to 32 points, equalling their highest tally after 25 matches of a Premier League season.

And while Hodgson’s average points per game of 1.26 can be bettered by Tony Pulis (1.46) and Alan Pardew (1.35), he has provided stability over a longer period and also at a time when Palace have not been one of the division’s big spenders.

Hodgson will make it 150 matches at the helm when his old club Fulham – who he took to a Europa League final – come to Selhurst Park on Sunday. That’s just 11 games shy of the combined total of the Eagles’ previous five permanent bosses.

Some of the fanbase have been restless for change for an extended period of time. Whether any successor can drive Palace up the table playing a more exhilarating brand of football, while the finances are still prudently managed, is doubtful.

We’re approaching a crossroads for Palace, in so many aspects.

Whether they stick or twist on the manager and also how many of the 13 first-teamers due to be free agents at the end of June they look to retain in what could be one of the most extensive and expensive rebuilds in years.

Hodgson deserves credit for not griping publicly about his own situation. He is definitely low maintenance in the respect he does not look to push agendas in the media. He just gets on with the job. When the time comes that he is no longer in the dugout – with trusty lieutenant Ray Lewington at home giving his vocal chords a well-earned rest – there will be no angry recriminations over his exit from a boss who conducts himself with class and dignity.

There might be some Palace supporters who have grown fed up at tactics – the Holmesdale Fanatics put up a banner at the club’s training ground describing them as “safety first”. But football is a results business. It always has been and it always will be.

It’s why Frank de Boer only lasted 77 days – five straight Premier League defeats. Hodgson succeeded the Dutchman and made history, the first time a team lost their opening seven matches in the competition and stayed up. In the end it wasn’t even close. Palace finished 11th – 10 points clear of danger.

The record books will be kind to Hodgson. He is almost someone whose work gets the appreciation it merits after he has gone.

Hodgson doesn’t deserve to be shown the door prematurely.

And another win over their old sparring partners Brighton should ensure that isn’t the case.

The summer feels like a cleaner break and is also less messy for Palace if their chosen successor is already in a job. Swansea City’s Steve Cooper has been mentioned. Sean Dyche could potentially be prised out of Burnley. Eddie Howe – coveted before – is available.

If Wilfried Zaha is back from his hamstring injury soon then there is every chance they could finish in the top half of the table for the first time in Hodgson’s tenure. Palace’s attacking options are also depleted due to the absence of Jeffrey Schlupp.

“As a manager, coach or player you’re going to be criticised for performances and people are going to read into things from performances that are not always there,” said Hodgson in the lead up to the Brighton encounter. “I would deny that it is a lack of interest or desire on the part of the players.”

If Monday evening’s fixture had been a boxing match then it would have been waved off long before Gary Cahill was left with a bloodied nose.

A mixture of errant shooting by Graham Potter’s side, committed defending by the Eagles and two superbly-taken strikes by Jean-Philippe Mateta and Christian Benteke left the xG (expected goals) taking a couple of paracetemol before going to bed.

Brighton have had 45 shots on target in the meeting of the two clubs and taken one point. Palace have had four shots and banked four points. Brighton had 52 touches in the penalty box on Monday to the visitors’ two.

Cue Hodgson.

“But the game isn’t about touches in the opposition box, is it? The game is about scoring goals and not letting any in. We worked unbelievably hard to try and make certain we didn’t let any goals in.

“Okay, they had the better of possession. They had the ball in our box more often and more corner kicks. But I’m not going to apologise for coming away with a very good victory.”

It was a good night for Palace and Roy Hodgson – with a chance of at least a few more to come.

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One thought on “Time might soon be up for Roy Hodgson as Crystal Palace boss – but win at Brighton heads off talk of immediate change

  • Roy can save what he will. The match was terrible with corners 13-nil, possession 75-25, shots 25-3, dangerous attacks 96-8. —- Palace can do better. Read the rules. The object is to win and not to draw.—-Roy did great things in stabilizing the team after De Boer. Nevertheless with Simon Jordan, Palace should have greater ambition than 16th every year. Give Roy the gold watch, hug him sincerely, and then move on to either Dyche or Howe.


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