Crystal Palace play Brighton tonight in a televised FA Cup third-round A23 derby tie – ahhh, jumpers for goal posts, steamy beakers of Bovril, the magic of the…
Palace are guaranteed of being in the fourth-round draw (it takes place before the kick-off of their Monday night game). And now it emerges that Eagles fans have cause to be grateful to Sheila Hodgson for letting her old man get back into football management.
Palace are on a run of just one defeat in their last 11 games. Sitting 14th in the Premier League, they are a side transformed under Roy Hodgson as manager, after he took over in mid-September in the middle of a record-breaking run of seven league games, seven defeats and not a goal scored.
The former Palace trainee who went on to become manager of England has said that, at the age of 70 and after a year on the sidelines, it was his long-standing (and long-suffering, if the cliché is to be believed) wife who allowed him to come out of retirement to manage at Selhurst Park.
Hodgson had been out of work since stepping down from the England job following the national side’s exit from Euro2016 after the ignominious defeat to Iceland. Already past the bus pass age by four years, it might have been Hodgson’s last job.
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“We’ve been married 46 years,” Hodgson said when asked about his wife, Sheila, and retirement. “There have been moments when we have discussed that together. There have been moments when we’ve thought, well, is this the moment now to do something else?
“Well, we tried that for a year. And she came to the conclusion that she better let me back in for a little bit longer.”
Palace’s most recent form has seen them win three of their last six league games, good enough to help restore Hodgson’s managerial reputation following the inevitable bruising it suffered with England.
Not that Hodgson sees things quite that way.
“I’ve been working for 41 years. I’ve got so many titles. I’ve been Manager of the Year, I’ve got goodness knows how many Managers of the Months. I’ve had 100-odd games for national teams and 150 of European competitions. I’ve taken two unfancied teams to European finals.
“Just because I don’t boast of my achievements whenever I come into a press conference, because I am a reasonably modest person, doesn’t mean to say I have ever thought anything other than I am a very good football manager.
“Whether Palace win or lose, or whatever happens at the end of my time at Crystal Palace, I will still be thinking, ‘I am a very good football manager’. I know it, I see it every day.
“After England, I didn’t think, ‘I’ve got something to prove’. I was bitterly disappointed that we lost a vital game, but I have a totally different attitude towards it. I don’t think necessarily after leaving England I was absolutely ready to turn my back on it.”
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