Roy Hodgson faced the media this afternoon at the clubs training facility in Kent ahead of Sunday’s clash with high flying Tottenham Hotspur. A seemingly motivated and positive Roy Hodgson confirmed that Mamadou Sakho and James McArthur had both been involved in training and could be in contention for a return to the squad travelling to Wembley.
However, the Palace boss did emphasise that he would be seeking the advice of his medical team before making a decision on whether or not this weekends fixture comes around too soon for the pair. Unfortunately for the Eagles, striker Christian Benteke remains sidelined and is not expected to return to training until the upcoming international break. Hodgson confirmed he had been in contact with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez and they had both agreed it best for Benteke to be left out of the squad for their fixtures versus Mexico and Japan to concentrate on his rehabilitation from a knee injury that’s seen him sidelined since the end of September.
Having scored a last-minute equaliser in their last fixture versus West Ham much of the talk was in relation to the in-form Wilfried Zaha. When asked if he was Crystal Palace’s talisman Hodgson responded by saying “I’ve heard the term used many times but I’m not sure I know entirely what it means. I couldn’t define its meaning.” So Roy wasn’t keen to label his Ivorian winger but he did elude to the fact he has “given us another dimension. With him, we threaten teams a lot more and for that we thank him.”
Going back to last weekends game, he told us the way in which his side had earned a point last week served as a “massive moral boost” but given the fighting spirit he’s seen since his arrival in South London he wasn’t totally surprised. “However, fighting spirit alone is not enough. You also need to defend and attack well”.
There were suggestions in the room that Tottenham Hotspur could be the victims of a physical or emotional hangover given their historic win over Real Madrid was as recent as Wednesday night. Hodgson said “I’d be lucky if I see Spurs play poorly, I expect a game against the Spurs I’ve been watching and admiring since the start of the season.”
The Crystal Palace boss was never going to get through this one without being asked for his thoughts on Pep Guardiola’s recent comments where he allegedly labelled Spurs as a one man team. “You can’t lure me into that one. I don’t think Spurs are a one man team and I don’t think Pep believes Spurs are a one man team either.” Hodgson made it abundantly clear he believes there to be a lot more to Spurs’ recent success than just the England strikers influence.
When asked if his return to a Wembley dugout and the fact he’d be facing a number of players he once managed would give him an advantage Roy jokingly responded by saying “no, other than the fact I already know the way from the coach to the dressing room and from the dressing room to the pitch.”
What was evident from today’s press conference was that the former England manager doesn’t care much for circumstance and he believes the only luck people should talk about is that on the field of play. When it was put to him that Everton could have a new manager by the time his side meet them he was asked if he saw it as ‘unlucky’ given a managerial appointment could galvanise the toffees and make them a far tougher opponent.
“If you’re going to talk about luck at all it will be the luck you have during the 95 minutes of the game where your bad luck sees a good shot hit the post and come out or an equally good shot hits the post and goes in. That’s the only sort of luck I care to talk about”.
In response to the question whether or not his side would be facing the best striker in the world at the weekend in Harry Kane, Roy had this to say, “It’s an impossible thing to do, to compare strikers from all over the world, it’s impossible to compare types. Each one is a different type of player, Harry Kane is not Ronaldo, Ronaldo is not Messi, Messi is not Higuain.”
Crystal Palace’s fixtures have been difficult of late and with this one to come on Sunday there’s no sign of things getting any easier. Despite Roy Hodgson being full of praise for his counterpart, you get the impression he is quietly confident of causing an upset.