Seven games into the 2017/18 Premier League season, Crystal Palace were rooted to the very bottom of the table with no points and more crucially no goals to their name. In the 10 games that have followed, we’ve gained a mammoth 14 points, gone six games unbeaten and scored two or more goals in six straight home games, thanks mainly to the 70-year-old puppet-master Roy Hodgson.
I’ll be the first to admit that, upon the announcement of his arrival in mid-September, I was hugely sceptical. As a consequence, I now have no hesitation in saying how shallow and ashamed I feel for having held that opinion. Aside from Roy’s much discussed failings whilst in charge of England, fans of both Fulham and West Brom were desperate to convince the Palace faithful that he would do a sterling job in SE25. I and many others scoffed, we were all wrong to do so.
Through a mixture of cool-headed pragmatism, hard work on the training ground and a sense of unshakable belief in his core tactical principles, Roy has dragged Palace, kicking and screaming, to the rarefied air of 17th place heading into tonight’s Premier League fixtures. To those outside the Palace bubble that may not seem too startling an achievement but ask anyone who had watched us regularly in the opening weeks of the season and they’re bound to tell you that he’s performed a minor miracle.
Whilst we’re a long way off from being able to count our chickens just yet, Hodgson has coaxed a huge amount of spirit and resilience out of a group that had looked lost prior to his tenure getting underway. This isn’t luck, taking a team who had gone seven games without a point or a goal and putting together a six-game unbeaten run cannot be attributed to such a throwaway explanation. Roy has made an immense difference to us both on and off the field, in terms of crisis management he’s been practically faultless and could feasibly argue that we’ve deserved four or five more points than we’ve won.
Consider this my full and unreserved apology to Roy Hodgson, he’s made me feel like a total muppet.