Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says he has not discussed his future with the club’s ownership despite increasing pressure on his position.
The 76-year-old is anticipating overseeing his 200th Premier League game as Palace boss on Monday when they host Chelsea, and says that conversations with chairman Steve Parish have been held as usual, but they have not broached the subject of whether he will remain manager.
Palace have conceded 11 goals in their last three games, with a humiliating 4-1 away defeat by arch-rivals Brighton & Hove Albion following a 5-0 thumping at Arsenal in the previous away match.
A home victory over Sheffield United sandwiched in between — a 3-2 win against the team bottom of the Premier League, inspired by Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze, who are both now out injured — did little to ease the pressure.
Some among the away support at Brighton on Saturday chanted for both Hodgson and Parish to go amid an increasingly toxic atmosphere.
Palace admire former Spain, Real Madrid and Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui, Kieran McKenna of Championship promotion candidates Ipswich Town, 2021-22 Europa League-winning ex-Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner and Steve Cooper, sacked by fellow Premier League side Nottingham Forest in December, as they consider their options.
“The chairman and I talk all the time, but there has been no specific talk about the future,” says Hodgson, whose one-year contract expires in the summer.
“We’re in the job to try to coach a team to be the best it can be and win as many matches as it can and, most important of all, to give fans something they want to see and can be proud of. When the fans have turned against us that’s the worst possible scenario, and you can understand it.
“We haven’t really got ourselves going after the Brentford game (a 3-1 home win at the end of December) and kicked on. We’ve had two heavy defeats but we can’t change it.”
Hodgson believes there is no reason for Parish to communicate the club’s intentions and views on their current situation with those disgruntled fans, while acknowledging speculation over his position is inevitable in the circumstances.
“I don’t think that’s necessary, he’s not obliged to do that at all,” Hodgson says. “At the moment I’m in charge of the game that is coming up. Why should he be obliged to say what any further plans will be or divulge his thoughts? That’s not necessary. I expect he will divulge his thoughts when he feels the time is right.
“It’s not in my control (the speculation). It doesn’t affect my daily work, stop me working with the players or selecting the team, the tactics, getting the team in the best possible shape. One has no option but to let those things pass by and accept them as a fact of football life.”
Palace will have to make do without key players Olise, Eze and Marc Guehi against Chelsea.
Centre-back Guehi, who has a knee injury, is not expected to miss a significant period of time, while Eze picked up a hamstring problem against Sheffield United that forced him to miss the Brighton match. Olise is set to be out for around two months having aggravated his own hamstring injury 11 minutes after being introduced as a half-time substitute against Brighton with Palace already trailing 3-0.
Criticism had been levelled at both Hodgson and the club’s medical team for the number of injuries sustained by important players, but he issued a staunch defence of his staff.
“After the Sheffield United game, we were really thinking we were going to be OK now we have got these guys back, and just the opposite has occurred,” Hodgson says.
“Michael has picked up another serious injury, which is absolutely devastating for everyone, really. It was one of those situations where so many things went wrong which could have gone right. But we don’t have hindsight.
“It was the perfect storm in every respect, but injuries do happen. They happened in this game, and now we are trying to seek reasons why exactly it could have happened when it happened. But it could have happened at any time. He could have come on for five minutes and done that. He could have not come on at all (that day) and then done it in the first training session here.
“People don’t want to give timelines (regarding injuries), because they’re under enough pressure. The moment you even mention the medical or sports-science staff, people want to come in with criticism or suggest they’re not doing what they should be doing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“I was disappointed to hear some talk that it’s not good between us, the coaches, and the sports-science and medical team. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve done a fantastic job and have been very unlucky. It’s so unfair that people are trying to suggest that Olise’s injury was their fault or my fault. So many things could have prevented it.”
Hodgson’s Crystal Palace future: What we’re hearing
Analysis by Matt Woosnam
So Hodgson ploughs on as Palace manager, at least for the time being.
He admitted that defeat against Brighton — during which home supporters taunted him with gleeful calls to that they wanted him to stay, while travelling fans bellowed for him to go — had been painful.
But the rather disconsolate, resigned expression he had worn on the south coast last weekend was not on show at the training ground on Thursday as Hodgson conducted his media duties ahead of Monday’s game with Chelsea. There was defiance of sorts, and certainly no sign that he had given up. No air of inevitability that he might not last beyond game No 200, or to that milestone at all.
As far as Hodgson is concerned, it is business as usual unless, and until, he is told otherwise.
His mood was balanced. There was no irritation at questions or the club’s predicament, albeit he once gently hit the table he was sitting behind to express his frustration at the injuries which have caused so many issues for Palace this season.
Jesurun Rak-Sakyi is the latest to suffer a hamstring problem. The 21-year-old had recently returned to first-team training after three months out, only to be forced off in the first half of the Under-21s’ Premier League Cup fixture against Ipswich on Monday night.
The manager’s staunch defence of the club’s medical team was a surprise, but this was an attempt to remove any doubt over the strength of his relationship with the department. After all, on several occasions this season, he has referred to the advice he’s been given on how many minutes his key players could feature for.
If this is to be the end of Hodgson at Palace, or even in Premier League management, then it was not immediately apparent. There were references to how football can throw up surprises, which demonstrated his awareness that he is on rocky ground. But there was nothing to indicate he believes his job is under immediate threat.
It all contrasted markedly with predecessor Patrick Vieira, who had given the impression he knew his time was up and shook hands with journalists in the room after what proved to be his final pre-match press conference in the March of last season. There had been an air of inevitability that day.
Hodgson’s attitude today was very different even if, deep down, he must know it is now a question of when, not if.
(Top photo: David Horton – CameraSport via Getty Images)