Why Roy Hodgson Is The Man To Finally Steady Crystal Palace

Why Roy Hodgson Is The Man To Finally Steady Crystal Palace
Sep 15, 2017

Crystal Palace Featured

One Swiss Championship, one Danish Championship, seven Swedish Championships, two Swedish Cups and over 250 Premier League games, Roy Hodgson has a wealth of experience and will most certainly succeed at Crystal Palace.

Following the brutal sacking of Frank De Boer after just 4 games, the shortest reign in Premier League history, Steve Parish has shown guts to appoint the 70-year-old who had his reputation shattered after Euro 2016. Hodgson had a disastrous four years as England manager.

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He oversaw the country to bottom in the World Cup Group Stage in 2014 and getting beaten by minnows Iceland in the Quarter Finals of Euro 2016. Putting England’s main goalscorer Harry Kane on corners and being accused of shoehorning Wayne Rooney into the side, Hodgson was eaten alive by both the media and the average fan.

Back in 1976, a young looking 28-year-old Englishman was appointed manager of Halmstad in Sweden and presided over the club going from relegation favourites to Swedish title winners. At the time, Roy’s only taste of management was his role as assistant manager down in the non-league with Maidstone United and Carshalton Athletic. Yet, Hodgson changed the philosophy at Halmstad in his first season and turned the semi-professional club around.

In an interview with the Independent, Bengt Sjoholm, a tough tackling central defender who played under Hodgson, heaped praise on his old boss, stating the influence he had: “He changed the culture of Swedish football. At first, the Swedish FA weren’t happy about it. They thought that the way Roy and Bob [Houghton] played was too boring. It was not their football philosophy but gradually it also became the way the Swedish national team played too.”

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Along the way stints at Inter Milan, Udinese, Copenhagen and the Finland national team have come too. Speaking five different languages, Hodgson is considered a football genius by many in Europe yet his last expedition has tainted his name in this country.

His past records at West Brom and Fulham will provide comfort for Palace fans who may be worried about Hodgson’s capabilities to manage. 5-years since his last job in club management, Hodgson has a tough start to life in South London but Palace have a man who will guarantee the club safety.

In late December 2007, with Fulham sitting bottom of the Premier League with 2 victories out of 20, the Cottagers were destinated for relegation. Hodgson, however, successfully changed their style of play. Ex-captain Danny Murphy told Match Of The Day his old boss played home matches like the away side.

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The boring and defensive style eventually paid dividends for Fulham. Amassing 12 points from a final 15, with victories away to Manchester City, Reading and a last day of the season win against Portsmouth securing the clubs’ survival. This was to be the start of Fulham’s best spell in their recent history.

At the start of the 2008/09 season, Roy’s first full season in charge saw Fulham finish in 7th and secure a Europa League place. This opportunity and challenge was taken by the scruff of the neck. In 2009/10, the West Londoners managed home victories against Basel, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg as the club reached the Europa League final. Coming up against Atlético Madrid, an injury-time winner by Diego Forlán in the 116th minute meant heartbreak for Hodgson as his fell to a 2-1 defeat.

A rapid rise in just two and a half seasons, Fulham become a steady Premier League club for years to come thanks to the work of Hodgson. His tenure is looked back on with fondness and is seen as one of the best managers in the clubs history.

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A lacklustre spell in charge of Liverpool in 2010 was ended prematurely after just 6 months. With his ability to manage top players questioned, Roy was brought to West Brom, with Robbie Di Matteo enduring 13 losses in 18 Premier League games and duly getting sacked in February 2011. Hodgson came in and used all his experience to guide The Baggies to a respectable 11th place, just two points off 8th place Fulham.

And now with Crystal Palace facing a similar dilemma to Fulham and West Brom, it’s a no-brainer that Parish has recruited the services of the ex-England manager. First of all, Hodgson fits the profile of what managers have been successful at Palace of late. Pragmatic managers such as Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce had a 43% and 38% win percentage respectively at Palace.

Although Pardew had an impressive 40% win ratio and guided the club to an FA Cup final, only 1 win in 11 league games had the club one place above the relegation zone at the time of his sacking in 2016. Parish stated that Pardew’s “expansive style of football hasn’t worked” and admitted he’d go back to a more dodged type of manager before Allardyce came in.

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With Palace thus seeming more competent with a defensive style coach in charge, Hodgson fits the bill; Danny Murphy has cited Roy can play to that style effectively. Ex-Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Mark Lawrenson in 2012 weighed in on Hodgson’s style and described him more as a “counter-attacking coach than defensive.”

With that, what can we expect to see from his Palace team? As someone who has typically played a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 system at West Brom and Fulham respectively, Hodgson did, however, start off his managerial career with 5 at-the-back in Sweden.

Big Sam last season opted for a 3 at-the-back system so we could see this implemented at times. However, a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 is what is suspected Roy will go with given the lack of strikers. His recent career has been based around the idea of “two banks of four” with counter-attacking and direct play a main strategy. Crystal Palace are set up perfectly for Hodgson, in my opinion.

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Benteke, a powerful target man up front who can link up with midfielders, will be deployed as the sole strikers and will be used like Bobby Zamora was at Fulham. Under Hodgson, Zamora netted an impressive 19 goals in all competitions during the 2009/10 season. Only two senior strikers are at the club in the form of Benteke and Conor Wickham thus, Hodgson won’t opt to play both together up front as his main tactic.

A deep-lying playmaker who can offer defensive stability has been key to allowing a counter-attacking style to be applied, and Yohan Cayabe will offer Roy what he needs. Danny Murphy and Youssouf Mulumbu have been given these roles at other clubs but Palace’s Frenchman is far better technically, meaning The Eagles can attack with pace and venom.

Out-wide Roy expects his wingers to be able to either cut in or deliver a superb cross, however, they still have a job to do defensively. Fulham had Damien Duff and Simon Davies cutting inside to aid Zamora and Zoltan Gera but the two wingers tracked back and gave The Cottagers stability. During the 2009/10 season, the team only conceded 43 goals in 38 games.

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At West Brom James Morrison and Chris Brunt were utilised for their delivery skills in order to supply Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie. Long netted 16 times in 66, whilst the Nigerian amassed 15 goals in 45 games across Hodgson’s 18 months at the club.

Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend both have the quality to deliver a deadly cross or cut in and shoot but their willingness to track back should not go unnoticed. Townsend was used by Hodgson 13 times whilst he was England manager, scoring three times. These two wingers are the best he would have worked with in years at club level. Therefore the pair will be key players under the crafty old man who’ll look to maximise Benteke’s aerial presence.

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The Palace defence has been an issue for some time, with the team leaking goals whoever the manager seemed to be. Hodgson will bring the tactical nous and pinpoint details which will sure up the back-line with opposition movements studied expertly. With Mamadou Sakho re-joining the club on transfer deadline day, a back four of Joel Ward, Sahko, Scott Dann and Patrick Van Aanholt will be more that capable of taking on board Roy’s feedback.

A tough opening four games at his “boyhood club”, Hodgson started out his playing career with Palace but was released before he made a senior appearance. Starting with Southampton at home this weekend, tough trips to both Manchester clubs follow before at a return to Selhurst Park to host the champions Chelsea. Expect nothing from those four games.

Adapting from an Ajax style under De Boer to the practical Hodgson, it will take time for Roy to get to know his players whilst they get to know him. Having had 6 previous permanent managers since 2012, Hodgson will eventually get Palace clicking in no-time this season and will provide the stability the club so desperately need.


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