Crystal Palace: Roy Hodgson is a candidate for Premier League Manager of the Season
The former England boss has turned Palace from a joke into a solid Premier League side.
When Crystal Palace hired Frank de Boer this past summer, they were trying to transform the clubs identity and build foundations that could help turn Palace into more than perennial relegation strugglers.
The experiment was given four games, the shortest in the Premier League era before the Palace hierarchy pressed the panic button and sacked the Dutchman.
De Boer oversaw a run of four straight defeats while his successor Hodgson lost his first three games in charge of the Eagles. Worse, the team was yet to register a goal breaking the record for most games to start the season without scoring.
The aggregate score of Palace’s first eight games was 17-0. Even the most optimistic of fans would not have foreseen Hodgson’s terrific winter turnaround.
Hodgson began his turnaround when reigning champions Chelsea came to Selhurst Park in mid-October. The Eagles won 2-1 to ignite their season and bring hope to the Palace fans that they could survive this season.
Ten points from the next eight games would leave Palace in 18th place three points away from safety. The club went from a 17-0 aggregate score in their first eight to an 8-6 score in their next eight.
While fans of the Eagles were still pessimistic about survival because of their awful start, signs were pointing towards a Hodgson revival that had already been seen in previous jobs.
From November 25th to January 13th Palace played 12 games and lost just once. Their five victories and six draws left the club in 12th place with 25 points.
After a start of zero points from their first eight games, Palace had 25 points from their next 15 matches – European qualification form if kept up over the course of a season.
A poor run
After that magnificent run from November to early January, Palace ended up going seven games without a victory, picking up just two points in the process.
However, that run came with a torrid run of games where Palace faced Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Everton. The team managed two draws from games against West Ham and Newcastle.
This run left the team in 18th place with 27 points from 30 games. Palace fans could have been forgiven for thinking that the great run sandwiched between two stretched without wins could cost them their place in the top division.
Before Palace travelled to Huddersfield, they sat one point behind Southampton and in the relegation zone. The pressure of getting a victory away from home was huge for the Eagles.
The team took a crucial 2-0 victory that day and have followed it up with four points from their next three games.
That run has now left the club in 16th, but more importantly, five points clear of 18th placed Southampton. Hodgson is very close to achieving what looked like an impossible escape.
With four games remaining against Watford, Leicester, Stoke and West Brom it seems highly likely that Palace will achieve yet another escape from relegation.
Manager of the year?
Pep Guardiola and Sean Dyche will surely head the ballot for the accolade but Roy Hodgson deserves at least some votes.
Manchester City have ran away with the title while playing scintillating football and no one could really disagree if Guardiola takes the prize home.
Dyche and Burnley have defied all expectations and are currently just two points behind Arsenal as they push for a sixth-place finish. Dyche too deserves recognition.
But Hodgson has taken a team that lost its first eight games without scoring and it looks increasingly likely that he will keep them up with games to spare.
After the disappointment of being sacked as England boss in 2016, Hodgson was considered finished in management circles.
The fact that he has bounced back in such glorious fashion is a testament to his abilities.
Does Roy Hodgson deserve Manager of the Year votes? Let us know in the comments section below.