To those on the outside looking in, Palace sitting just two points above the relegation zone as we tuck into our Christmas turkey may not look like a reason for celebration but after the start to the season we endured, it’s a minor miracle that we’ve made it to such a lofty position.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 24, 2017
Having made the extremely bold and in hindsight foolish decision to appoint Frank de Boer over the summer, our team were thrown into disarray in the opening weeks of the campaign. Soundly beaten at home to Huddersfield on the opening day before falling to another humbling Selhurst Park defeat at the hands of Swansea shortly after, it was clear that the players were drowning in an ocean of tactical changes.
Enter Roy Hodgson, who, after stepping into the Dutchman’s shoes with the aim of rebuilding a reputation that had been hugely damaged by England’s elimination at the hands of Iceland in Euro 2016, has performed genuine heroics in the three-and-a-bit months he’s been in charge in SE25.
Despite losing his first three Premier League games against Southampton, Manchester City and Manchester United respectively, the 70-year-old coaxed a victory out of nowhere against defending champions Chelsea and is now the man who has overseen our longest unbeaten run in the flight since 1990, following an eight consecutive game without defeat away to Swansea yesterday afternoon.
In many ways, the dogged nature of our display in Wales highlights the difference Roy has made to the group given the feeble manner in which we approached the reverse fixture under the aforementioned De Boer a few months ago. Of course, a victory would have been far sweeter but after conceding an equaliser with time ticking down, the boss’ mantra of respecting away draws and looking to win at home appears to really be taken hold amongst our playing staff.
Taking 18 points from 12 games is undoubtedly top half form and whilst we shouldn’t discount the wretched start we went through in the opening seven games, Hodgson has every right to disassociate himself from that string of results as an individual. Should we be able to replicate the last dozen results between now and May, we’ll be comfortably clear of the fight for survival which is more than anyone could have hoped for in the dark days of September.
Roll on 2018.