With an announcement that confirmed that the directors at Crystal Palace had no “Plan B” for the replacement of sacked boss Patrick Vieira, it is a case of Hobson’s, or Hodgson’s, choice as the club set another record with the appointment of the oldest manager in Premier League history.
As had been widely expected and predicted, 75-year-old Roy Hodgson was this morning announced as the “new” manager at Crystal Palace, through until the end of the season.
“Our sole objective now is to start winning matches, and to get the points necessary to ensure our Premier League status,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson’s second spell in charge at his boyhood club gives him 10 games in which to pull the club up from the tailspin towards relegation that it had been in since the New Year under Patrick Vieira, who was sacked last week.
Vieira was appointed a little less than two years ago to bring fresh and modern ideas to the club and to coax through the academy’s youth prospects, after Hodgson was effectively retired by not having his contract renewed in 2021.
In his previous, four-year spell in charge at Palace, the former England manager achieved mid-table respectability, with a 33per cent win ratio.
When Hodgson took over in September 2017, Palace had lost four matches and failed to score a single goal – a run of form similar to that being experienced in 2023. Then, Eagles fans will recall, Hodgson’s side lost the next three matches, too. No team had previously survived relegation from the top flight after losing their first seven games, which itself was an unwanted Premier League record.
After Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at league leaders Arsenal, Hodgson returns with the club 12th in the Premier League, but only three points above the relegation zone.
Many of his first-team squad are currently away on international duty, but at least the “new” manager has less daunting opposition lined up for the end-of-season run-in, beginning with a home game against fellow strugglers Leicester (currently in 17th position) on April 1.
There follows games at Leeds (14th) on April 9, at Southampton (20th and bottom) on April 15, and at home v Everton (15th) on April 22, before a visit to Wolves (13th) on April 25 and a London derby at Selhurst Park on April 29 against 18th-placed West Ham, fighting for their Premier League future.
Not until May 6 will Hodgson’s side face a top-six club again, when they play at Tottenham (hardly a club going through a period of calm reflection itself at the moment).
Hodgson’s Palace’s final three fixtures of the league season at against Bournemouth (19th), Fulham (one of Hodgson’s former clubs; 9th) and Nottingham Forest (16th). So the club’s fate is firmly in Hodgson, and his players’, hands.
There have been grumblings from fans all weekend about the generally dull prospect of old-school Hodgson’s return. There will also be concerns that in January last year, when Watford called him out of retirement to save their Premier League status, Hodgson failed in that mission. With Watford relegated, Hodgson had said last May he would not be seeking another managerial job in the Premier League.
According to a statement from the club this morning, Paddy McCarthy, the caretaker for Sunday’s match, will take the role as assistant manager, and Ray Lewington – Hodgson’s regular right-hand man – returning as first-team coach. Dean Kiely remains as goalkeeping coach. Darren Powell becomes under-21s head coach in place of McCarthy.
Club chairman Steve Parish said: “I would like to welcome Roy and Ray back to the club.
“We are obviously in a very challenging period but we believe that Roy’s and Ray’s experience, knowledge of the club and players, alongside Paddy can help fulfil the immediate requirement of keeping us in the league.”
For his part, Hodgson said, “It is a privilege to be asked to return to the club, which has always meant so much to me, and to be given the important task of turning the team’s fortunes around.
“Crystal Palace is known for its fighting spirit, and I have no doubt that all our supporters will fight with us, beginning with the visit of Leicester City a week Saturday.”
Read more: The inside story of a reluctant sacking
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