Tomorrow’s early kick off see’s Crystal Palace return to Selhurst Park as they face Southampton, but as we all know there’s something a bit different about them going into this game.
That difference will be on the sidelines as they’ll be with their new manager Roy Hodgson for the first time as he returns to South London.
The former England manager is very optimistic in the lead up to Saturday’s game despite club’s poor start to the season as he said:
“Our focus really is on May, not on the end of September because leagues aren’t won at the end of September and teams aren’t relegated at the end of September.”
That definitely is the case and with a vital three points on the cards against a Southampton side who haven’t been performing as expected either, with only one win this season, which could give them some hope going into a tough run of games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
With a lot of talk around systems surrounding his predecessor Frank de Boer, Hodgson was also asked what we could expect from his Palace side to which he answered:
“All styles of play have got to depend on the players and it’s very difficult to impose a style if you don’t have the players who are comfortable with that style.
“I’ve seen a lot of Crystal Palace over the last five years and I’ve seen them progress, I’ve seen many of the players who are still here improve in that period of time and I think I’ve got a good idea on what they’re good at and what they can do so our style needs to be one that helps us win matches.”
Going back to a more familiar style of play could bare well for Palace tomorrow also as in the last two meetings between the teams at Selhurst Park, they have won both encounters, and with a good performance last week, that could encourage the team to turn a performance into points.
It was pretty inevitable that there would be some talk of the manager’s last game in charge of England in that loss against Iceland in EURO 2016, however, he made it clear what he was focused on by saying:
“Matches do get lost when you’re a football coach, especially in tournament football where, when the match is lost your tournament is over, but I really enjoyed my time with England, it was a huge honour, but that time has gone.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s Crystal Palace, Crystal Palace, Crystal Palace, it’s everyone at the club and most importantly it’s the fans because this is a very strong fan base and we get the feeling that we represent South London and we mean a lot to people in this region.”
With tomorrow’s game being the first of probably more than four for Roy Hodgson he also emphasised he’s in this for the long term saying:
“I don’t look at four matches I look at 34 matches and everything we’re going to be doing well be based on getting points during that period and making sure we get enough points to stay in the Premier League.”
A few things that Hodgson also have to look forward to in his time at Crystal Palace will be the return of players like Mamadou Sakho, Pape Soauré and Wilfried Zaha over the coming weeks as the Southampton game comes too early for them.
Even though the club will be without a few of their big names tomorrow though it looks like their best chance to pick up points from Hodgson’s first four games and possibly even pile even more pressure on Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino, but as we all know, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on the pitch come tomorrow lunch time to see if Palace can make an instant impact under Hodgson.