Can Hodgson save Crystal Palace after De Boer nightmare?

By on September 21, 2017

It did not take long for the first managerial casualty of the season as Frank De Boer was sacked following Crystal Palace’s disastrous start to the season. Four straight defeats and not a single goal for the fans to cheer left the Eagles rock bottom and favourites to be relegated. The big question is: can the incoming former England boss Roy Hodgson pull off another great escape?

Palace have flirted with relegation for a while now, but they are a club that continues to fascinate. Steve Parish is an honest and ambitious chairman and he deserves a bit of credit for taking a punt on De Boer. The Dutchman had lofty aims of turning a scrappy side full of Sam Allardyce’s warriors into an easy-on-the-eye team playing total football in the space of one pre-season. The general consensus was that it would either prove to be a remarkable success or a spectacular failure.

It turned out to be the latter and De Boer suffered the humiliation of being sacked just a couple of months into a new job for the second consecutive season after he was axed by Inter last season. But you cannot blame Parish and his board for taking a punt. De Boer was one of the greatest players of his generation and won four consecutive Eredivisie titles as Ajax manager, so he came with serious pedigree. It is understandable that Parish took steps to try to escape mediocrity, but now it seems he would give anything for mediocrity.

Yet he was bold and pulled the trigger early, and now stands with hands aloft, having admitted his mistake. There is plenty of time for the season to be salvaged, and Hodgson could prove to be an inspired appointment. Thrice before, Parish has been faced with a crisis and has turned to experienced managers that know how to secure dogged victories in the Premiership. First Tony Pulis got him out of jail, then Alan Pardew and then Sam Allardyce. He has rolled the dice once more and brought in a 70-year-old that is renowned for taking unheralded teams and turning them into mid-table teams. Bringing mediocrity to underdogs, if you will.

He struggled at Liverpool, but was excellent at Fulham and did such a great job at West Brom that he was named England manager. He has been coaching since 1976 and can draw on four decades of experience in his bid to drag Palace to safety. Critics may question whether he still has enough fight left in him to deal with the rigours of Premiership management. One man who thinks Hodgson cannot cut it is Joey Barton, as the outspoken former Man City midfielder said: “He’s just got no charisma, no personality at all. Did you see him at the back end of that England campaign? He just looked like he needed to be taken out into the back garden and have someone pull the trigger on him.”

Harsh words, but criticism from Barton can actually be taken as an endorsement given the way his career has dwindled into oblivion, remembered more for his off the field outbursts and disciplinary problems than for his footballing ability. Hodgson is a bit staid and sedate, but that could be exactly what Crystal Palace need right now.

The bookmakers are unimpressed, however, and have Palace as the outright 5/4 favourites to be relegated. If you agree then that is a great price and it might be worth backing them. Intertops is an established and trustworthy bookmaker, as this review shows, so it’s a great place to start. But if you think Hodgson can spark a revival then you can back Palace at 2/3 to stay up.

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