In what has been a truly turbulent summer behind the scenes at Selhurst Park, manager Roy Hodgson has handled himself with a familiar sense of dignity and class; traits never more evident than when reacting to Palace fans’ cheering of Wilfried Zaha when coming off the bench against Everton on Saturday afternoon.
It’s no secret that despite being Palace’s talisman and highest paid player, Zaha was keen to fly the nest this summer but after having his official transfer request turned down by the Palace board in the closing stages of the window, he got back to business last weekend, no doubt aided by a strong relationship with Hodgson.
Speaking after the game, the Eagles’ boss was full of praise for the manner in which the supporters rose to applaud Zaha onto the pitch after 65 minutes, admitting that often, fans are far less kind to individuals who make it clear they’d like to leave. In a scenario that is far from perfect for any of the parties involved, the rousing applause given to Wilfried as he replaced Jordan Ayew felt like the fan-base drawing a line under a summer of uncertainty and it was clear from Roy’s words on the matter, that both he and the player were truly appreciative of the response.
Even the most bruised of the Palace faithful will grudgingly admit that we need Zaha on song if we are to enjoy a comfortable campaign, with what happens in January or next summer a subject to be dealt with when the time comes. As a manager who’s built a reputation for being a calming influence when all around him are losing their heads, Hodgson will chalk up Wilfried’s continued presence at Palace as a significant win, despite the drama which came before the final call.
His words on Zaha’s return to action and the general manner in which he’s handled himself and the club since stepping into the role of manager have been exemplary. After almost two years in charge, I find that my respect for Hodgson grows daily and in the cut-throat world of elite football management, that really is saying something.