As any regular reader of this site will know, I have become a huge fan of Roy Hodgson since he first stepped foot into the Crystal Palace dugout back in September of 2017 but during the final few weeks of our last campaign and the start of this one, a rather worrying trend has begun to show itself in his in-game management.
Whilst the gaffer’s starting XI’s are usually well balanced and tactically sound, Roy seems to have a habit of waiting until 70 or 75 minutes of a game has passed before making changes from the substitutes’ bench, by which point, it’s often too late for the new faces to have that much of an impact on proceedings.
Before I go any further I feel it’s pertinent to mention that I’m not for one second questioning the man’s credentials; he’s been in the game close to half a century and has had great success all across Europe whilst I just run a website but as someone who’s desperate to see the team win games from week to week, I can’t help but highlight the observation.
In both of our last two league games, the main source of my personal frustration has centred around Hodgson’s insistence in keeping Jeffrey Schlupp on the field whilst the hugely talented Max Meyer is sat twiddling his thumbs on the bench. Against Watford, the boss waited until the 75th minute to make the swap, resulting in an assist for the German just three minutes later. He then started Meyer away at Swansea in midweek, watching him pull the strings across midfield throughout before once again leaving him on the sidelines whilst Schlupp started against Mark Hughes’ Southampton last weekend.
Once more, Roy waited until the 76th minute to introduce Meyer and immediately saw the team improve in an attacking sense, with the diminutive midfielder playing a key role in the move which saw Sørloth nod a header into Benteke’s path late on which really should have resulted in a dramatic equaliser. Quite why the gaffer refused to put Meyer in from the start I’m unsure of but to leave his introduction so late felt wrong on countless levels when watching on from the stands.
I’m loathe to criticise Hodgson publicly given the fantastic job he’s done to date but in this particular instance, I felt it needed saying; let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a weekly discussion.