Roy Hodgson is the wrong man for Crystal Palace and a relic of a bygone age

Graham Ruthven
Former England coach Roy Hodgson looks on before the Euro 2016 round of 16 soccer match between England and Iceland

In the case of most managerial dismissals, there is a reflex that means many clubs perform a complete u-turn in approach. The thinking is that if one method has worked so badly, then perhaps the direct opposite will stand a better chance.

This is what Crystal Palace have done. They have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other in the space of just a few weeks.

The appointment of Frank de Boer was meant to herald a new age for the club. The Dutchman was hired to impose a new style of play at Palace. It was his job to move the club on from their stereotype as traditionalists of the Premier League. De Boer lasted just four games, though, sacked after the weekend defeat to Burnley.

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In his place, Roy Hodgson has arrived. The former England manager is charged with correcting what has undoubtedly been a dreadful start to the season by Palace. At 70 years old, he is now the oldest manager in the Premier League, but that has been spun, at least in some quarters, as experience which will prove valuable in the club’s current situation.

But let’s consider that Hodgson hasn’t managed a club side 2012. The game has changed a lot in the past five years, as demonstrated in the rapid inflation of the transfer market. Hodgson once prided himself on being at the forefront of new methods and ideologies, travelling Europe to sample them for himself first hand. But is that still the case? It would appear not.

Hodgson’s appointment at Crystal Palace demonstrates how the Premier League managerial carousel serves the same ideas, the same names to its member clubs time and time again.


It’s the same carousel that meant Alan Curbishley continued to be linked to every top flight vacancy long after he’d possessed any sort of relevancy.

As England manager, Hodgson started to look like a relic of a bygone age. At no point of his tenure in charge of the national team did it appear that major success was on the horizon and much of that was down to an identity crisis. What sort of team were England under Hodgson? Did they have a distinct personality with him at the helm?

There were hints at the 2014 World Cup that a counter-attacking style had been favoured, but the peak of that transition came when Raheem Sterling hit the side-netting just minutes into England’s competition opener against Italy. From that moment on, it was all downhill for the Three Lions as they failed to make it out of the group.

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Crystal Palace have appointed a manager with no definable position on the way football should be played. He is the anti-de Boer, and that’s maybe why they turned to Hodgson in the first place. While the former Ajax and Inter Milan coach wanted to impose a certain style on the Selhurst Park outfit, Hodgson is a pragmatist who will determine his style based on what he finds upon arriving at the club.

Of course, the point could be made that Hodgson will get better results from the current Palace squad than de Boer did, taking into account how the Dutchman struggled to sign the players he wanted over the summer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Hodgson is the right appointment.

Palace should be aiming higher. Steve Parish had the right idea in trying to change the character of the club by hiring de Boer, but compromised his own intentions by failing to commit resources to his new manager. Hodgson might not get them relegated, but Crystal Palace wanted more than that before the season started, so why are they primarily concerned with this now?

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