firstname.lastname@example.org There can’t be any other Premier League club which has had as low-key a last two transfer windows as Crystal Palace – and Roy Hodgson’s comments earlier this week made it clear that he doesn’t want that to extend to a third.
The only surprise is that the Eagles boss has taken so long to air his frustrations. And when he did, it was directed towards the club’s two American owners – Joshua Harris and David Blitzer.
Do billionaires tend to listen? Even if they don’t, it doesn’t stop the former England head coach from having a justifiable gripe.
The spending in the top flight is still showing no signs of levelling out and yet Palace are not matching that – despite the huge profit they made on selling academy product Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United in June.
Hodgson took an unfashionable Fulham side to the Europa League final, still one of his standout achievements. The Eagles are above Arsenal in the Premier League table and only three points behind fifth-placed Arsenal.
What could Hodgson achieve if he’d even been given a fraction of the money spent in the 2016-17 season under Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce? Just look at the deals done back then – Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend, Luka Milivojevic, Jeffrey Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and James Tomkins.
Hodgson’s most expensive incoming deal is Cheikhou Kouyate at £10million. That’s small change when you consider the sums that top-flight clubs part with.
That’s not to say the 2016-17 windows were bad, far from it. The likes of Townsend, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Van Aanholt and Tomkins are still important components of the side. Benteke’s lack of goals is an area that Hodgson would surely want to try and resolve in January if the board do sanction a loosening of the purse strings.
Is that likely? Probably not.
The rumblings that Harris and Blitzer are ready to sell their stakes in Palace – they are majority shareholders along with chairman Steve Parish – are showing no signs of going away.
There is no danger of the Eagles being dragged into anything resembling a relegation scrap – often a time when clubs will act in desperation to buy their way to safety.
Becoming a challenger for the top five or six spots is financially challenging. You only need to look at the sides in those positions now – Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham – to realise that. But just a little more freedom for Hodgson could reap dividends.
Parish has spoken in the past about supporters not limiting ambitions and Hodgson – set to extend his excellent managerial career for at least another season – has a track record at the likes of Fulham and West Bromwich Albion for overdelivering.
The summer transactions were puzzling for a number of reasons.
They brought in only one loan – Victor Camarasa. The Spaniard has played five minutes of Premier League football. Hodgson’s critics will say that the lack of game time for Camarasa and Max Meyer, who pepped Palace up in the 1-1 draw with Brighton on Monday, underlines his dour approach to games.
But they’d be just as quick to hammer the Palace manager if he packed in more flair players and they got swatted aside easily.
The current squad lacks balance. The injuries have decimated the defensive areas and left-back is a huge issue for tomorrow’s trip to Newcastle United – Jairo Riedewald forced off with a hip problem against the Seagulls. James McArthur filled in for the second half but Tyrick Mitchell – an up and coming talent – may get his chance at St James’ Park.
Hodgson’s call for investment – made in his press conference following the Brighton match – was cut from the club’s video version.
The 72-year-old isn’t prone to outbursts like that. But he rammed home the point that his concerns over deficiencies in his squad were not addressed in the last window.
“We needed to do it in the summer but we didn’t succeed in getting the ones who were necessary to improve our squad,” said Hodgson. “Nothing has changed – it’s still the same positions and areas I’m talking about that I’d like to see improved upon.
“Steve and Doug Freedman [sporting director] are very much on board with that, so I’m hoping between us and the American owners we will find some way to release some money because I don’t think I’ll be able to bring in the quality of players I need to improve our squad on free transfers and loans.”
Photo’s by Keith Gillard
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