Roy Hodgson has showed remarkable character to steer Crystal Palace away from the relegation zone since his appointment back in September. Palace looked doomed when he took over, and everyone feared for the worst when he lost his opening three games in charge for the Eagles.
Fans weren’t optimistic about the appointment of the former England manager, but they were proved wrong with Crystal Palace now sitting 14th in the Premier League table, only losing twice in their last 15 league games despite losing their opening seven games of the season.
The Initial Downfall
With Sam Allardyce leaving Selhurst Park, Frank de Boer was appointed Crystal Palace manager in the hopes of bringing stylish football to South London – playing a possession game, hoping to keep the ball better. He planned for Crystal Palace to become a strong Premier League club, hoping that they would start looking up the table rather than fighting relegation. De Boer wanted Palace to dominate on and off the ball and fans were eager to see what the Dutchman could do for the side on the opening game of the season.
On the 12 August 2017, fans were left bitterly dissapointed with newly-promoted Huddersfield Town comfortably beating Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park. The poor start to the season became even worse with star man Wilfried Zaha picking up an injury from the Huddersfield game that would see him out for four weeks. The Eagles struggled for creativity upfront with Zaha injured and this was evident in their next league game against Liverpool at Anfield. Palace failed to take their chances and were left to pay the price with Luka Milivojevic making a costly mistake to send Mane through on goal, who slotted calmly past a helpless Wayne Hennessey to secure a 1-0 win for the Reds.
The results got worse and worse for the South London side with a poor home performance in their 2-0 loss to relegation rivals Swansea City, with Martin Kelly the centre of attention for both goals with two poor errors at the back. The mistakes continued in a 1-0 away loss to Burnley as Chung-yong Lee’s poor back pass to Hennessey sent new signing Chris Wood clear through on goal to loop the ball into the back of the net.
The away defeat to Burnley was de Boer’s last game in charge for Palace as he was sacked just five games and 77 days in charge for the Eagles. Crystal Palace were 19th in the Premier League table, failing to score or win in their four league games under the Dutchman. De Boer earned the statistic for the shortest time in charge of a Premier League team with the 47-year-old failing to deliver on the promises he set when he first came to the club.
Roy Hodgson was brought in to replace the Dutchman and take Palace away from the rotten form that saw them in the bottom three. However, the slide was going to be very hard to turnaround and this was clear to see with Hodgson losing his first three league games in charge. Palace conceded early yet again in their match against Southampton, with the Saints scoring the opener through Steven Davis, who slotted the ball into the back of the net. Palace were failing to create chances and this wouldn’t help their case in a hard run of games against Manchester City and Manchester United. Both games ended in a thumping loss for the Eagles with City winning 5-0 and United winning 4-0.
Sudden Resurgence under Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson had some confidence going into the next game with Zaha returning from injury to start against the reigning champions, Chelsea. However, no one expected to see what was going to come next, as Palace managed to surprise everyone with a shock 2-1 win. Fans were starting to believe that Palace’s fortunes could be turning around.
However, Palace went on a five-game winless run losing to relegation rivals Newcastle United 1-0 and getting booed off the pitch at full-time in their 4-1 loss to Championship opposition Bristol City. Chants such as ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ rang around the stadium for the first time since their 4-0 loss to Sunderland in the 2016/17 season. Fans were growing frustrated with their team, and it was hard to see how the South London outfit would bounce back from this poor run of form.
The Eagles got off to a rocky start yet again, conceding two sloppy goals against West Ham at home, leaving Javier Hernandez free to tap the ball home and Andre Ayew far too much time and space to arrow the ball into the roof of the net. Roy Hodgson had to do something and he must’ve given a great half-time team talk as Palace looked like a new side showing fight and confidence to comeback from 2-0 down and score a last-gasp equaliser through Wilfried Zaha to leave the Hammers frustrated. The Eagles were starting to show signs of a resurgence with a decent peformance against Tottenham, despite being unlucky with a 1-0 loss. Revival signs continue to show after coming from behind to score another last-gasp goal, but this time it was the winner against Stoke City with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mamadou Sakho inspiring a comeback for the South Londoners.
The next three games ended in a draw against bitter rivals Brighton and fellow relegation rivals West Brom and Bournemouth. The next gameweek would see the Eagles score yet another goal right at the death, coming from behind again to win against Watford 2-1. This would see the Eagles climb out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. Palace put in a superb display in their next game away at the King Power stadium to comfortably win 3-0 against a poor Leicester City side, securing their first away win of the season. Their unbeaten run would end against Arsenal losing 3-2, before putting in a dogged display to become the first team in the Premier League to gain points against the Premier League leaders Man City since Everton earlier on in the season, earning a 0-0 draw which also saw them become the first team to keep a clean sheet against City.
Crystal Palace put in a impressive away performance to come from behind to end their poor run at the St. Mary’s Stadium, winning 2-1 thanks to a James McArthur close-range finish and a superb curler from Milivojevic. Roy Hodgson was getting the Eagles playing again, and fans started to believe in him knowing that he can steer the club away from danger and secure their top-flight status. The fans would’ve felt more encouraged by their transformation under Hodgson with the side earning a hard-fought win against Burnley 1-0 with Bakary Sako on the scoresheet.
There is still a long way to go for the Eagles under Hodgson, but Palace fans would’ve bitten your hand off to see themselves in the position that they find themselves in currently. None of them would’ve expected to see their side improve as quickly as they have in recent months, especially as they weren’t too optimistic with the appointment of Hodgson. Times were looking bleak for the Eagles and now that looks like a thing of the past, thanks to that man Roy Hodgson.