To those outside the Palace bubble, it’s perhaps a question that will be a tad surprising but as I sit here writing this on Monday morning, I can’t help but wonder if Roy Hodgson needs to win Saturday’s game against Leicester City to keep hold of his job.
Yes, the Eagles currently sit two points clear of the relegation zone but with just three league victories in 16 games, it’s fair to ask why a squad with as much individual talent as ours is struggling so badly to generate any sort of positive momentum from week to week. A mere nine days ago, it felt as though the team may have turned a corner after systematically destroying Burnley on our home turf in a 2-0 win, only for the two games which followed to bring us back down to earth with a bang.
A humbling 3-1 defeat against our south coast rivals Brighton brought howls of derision, only for a 3-2 loss to West Ham on Saturday (having gone 1-0 up early on) to heap more pressure onto Roy Hodgson’s shoulders from a fan-base who were simply desperate to have just one league campaign without the club embroiled in a nerve-shredding battle against the drop.
You could suggest, as plenty have, that the boss’ hands have been tied somewhat by the club’s transfer activity in recent windows but there is no denying that on paper, the club are blessed with 13 or 14 bonafide Premier League players, leading to questions over why he’s not been able to get much of a tune out of them at all this term. The three wins we have had, have come against the teams currently sat in 17th, 18th and 20th, making Saturday’s clash against the Foxes an important marker for our resilience as a group.
We will have to face Claude Puel’s men without the services of Wilfried Zaha or James Tomkins after they both picked up their fifth bookings of the season against West Ham and whilst it may seem like an extremely tough task for Roy, the simple fact remains that games and viable opportunities to win them are running out fast.
If you excuse him a defeat against Jamie Vardy and co. because of the two absences referenced above, we then travel to an away game against Manchester City a week later almost certain of another loss. At that stage, we’ll have won just three times in 18 league games before welcoming Cardiff City to Selhurst Park on Boxing Day for what would be the very definition of a relegation six-pointer.
It’s tempting to give the gaffer until then to work out the problems we’re currently experiencing but for me, the result and tone of our performance against Leicester will decide whether or not Roy is still in charge for the daunting trip to face Manchester City. So good were we against Sean Dyche’s Burnley that it would have been impossible to sack him, even if we hadn’t won; should we roll over and die as we have in our last two at home to Leicester, I fear the writing will be on the wall for the former England boss.
It was only a matter of months ago that Roy Hodgson was seen as the saviour of Selhurst Park but football is a truly ruthless sport and unfortunately, the results and performances we’ve put in of late have led to an unavoidable bump in the road. If the players are keen to save the gaffer’s job, they know what they need to do when they next step over the white line.