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Roy Hodgson plays patience principle at Crystal Palace with history on his side

first_imgThere is always a touch of pathos about Roy Hodgson. It could be his hangdog expression. Maybe it is the way he insists on being gentlemanly in an age of turbo-charged egotists. Or perhaps the low points in his career – Liverpool, England – seem somehow to conform to the stereotype; nice guy but out of his depth at the top.Hodgson was welcomed with polite applause by the Crystal Palace fans before the match against Southampton and got the same response after their defeat. As he first walked to the dugout he was embraced by Pete the Eagle in a slightly awkward clinch. The cameras, of which there were many at Selhurst Park, caught him in trademark head-in-hands mode after Steven Davis turned home the only goal in the sixth minute. Later they caught him doing that thing with his finger on his lips as he considered how to improve his team’s prospects. So far, so Roy. Share on Twitter Share via Email Steven Davis spoils Roy Hodgson’s big day as Crystal Palace lose again Share on Facebook The problems Palace face this season remain the same as they have since Ian Holloway led them to promotion in 2013. How to galvanise a side who struggle to defend. How to stimulate a group who are not overendowed in attacking talent to score goals consistently. Their performance on Saturday was typical at both ends. Carved open on numerous occasions in the first half particularly, Palace also carved out the best chances of the match. They were unable to take those opportunities, however, with the ongoing enigma Christian Benteke a particular culprit.For Hodgson’s predecessor, Sam Allardyce, the issue was psychological. He spent much of his time as Palace manager talking about how he had to get inside the players’ heads, to persuade them to believe in themselves and the plan. On this issue Hodgson’s approach looks set to be more old school. “In terms of confidence you’ve got to be careful,” he said. “You can’t just go round to people all the time saying: ‘You’ll be OK, that was all right, bad luck’, because they need more than that. That’s what I mean by working in training. It’s about watching these things and making judgments. Is he going to do it? Is he going to swing round or is he always going to do what he wants to do and be quite happy to see us sink while doing it?” Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest Don’t forget that at Fulham we got out of the relegation zone on the very, very last game of the seasonRoy Hodgson Facebook However, the side of Hodgson that receives less coverage is also one that means, at the age of 70, and after 41 years in management, he is still working in the most demanding league in the world. Hodgson is tough and uncompromising. Those training ground drills – shape, shape, shape – are the template for his uncomplicated style of play but also the practice of a man who knows his own mind and will be sticking to it. The numbers at Palace are bad; five consecutive defeats with no goals scored, a historic record in the top flight. The upcoming fixtures are also horrendous – but Hodgson has seen most things before and dealt with them.“Don’t forget that at Fulham we got out of the relegation zone on the very, very last game of the season, so we lived with that hanging over our heads for a very long time,” Hodgson pointed out after the match. “It was a similar sort of thing: Arsenal, Manchester United, those type of teams. We lost the first three, we might have even lost the first four.“At West Brom, I was lucky. We were losing 1-0 with a few minutes to go and scored an undeserved equaliser, which papers over cracks. Unfortunately today the cracks were there, they weren’t papered over and we got what we deserved, a defeat.” Topics Hodgson will need greater strength and movement from Benteke, not to mention a calmer head, which means the next time the Belgian is presented with an opportunity from six yards, as he was on the half hour, he turns the ball past the goalkeeper rather than straight at him. But the manager will also need Andros Townsend to produce greater end product, Yohan Cabaye to be more protective of possession and Scott Dann to hold his position.One player who did look up for the challenge was Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the giant Chelsea loanee driving at the robust Saints rearguard throughout the match. The one bit of needle from the crowd came when the 21-year-old was withdrawn in the second half, although Hodgson was at pains to point out he took a risk in playing him at all as the midfielder was recovering from a groin strain.Onwards, then, to the terrible trio: Manchester City, United and Chelsea are Palace’s next league fixtures. Before those, a potentially awkward Carabao Cup tie against Huddersfield on Tuesday night. Hodgson says it may yet be some time before his side start to perform in the manner he expects of them and he asked the supporters to stay with him. Frank de Boer never got that privilege but Hodgson is Palace’s best hope of avoiding the drop – and he has managed it before. Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke battles with Wesley Hoedt of Southampton. Photograph: Reuters Read more Premier League features Share on WhatsApp Roy Hodgson Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content Twitter Pinterest Southampton Crystal Palacelast_img read more