The Baggies View
After Palace’s opening four Premier League matches of this campaign they had accumulated zero points and scored zero goals.
The summer appointment of Dutch legend Frank de Boer was starting to look like some sort of horrible joke. Going from Sam Allardyce to Frank de Boer in one swift motion was always going to be difficult, but nobody really quite envisaged just how much of a disaster it was going to be.
The men upstairs at Selhurst Park acted swiftly though, and wasted no time in appointing what I knew at the time, was clearly the best man for the job. Step forward Roy Hodgson.
Now, being a West Bromwich Albion fan through and through, and having witnessed just how smart Roy is as a manager, even after three more defeats at the start of Hodgson’s tenure, I knew he would ensure Premier League safety for your football club come the end of this season. I wasn’t wrong.
The former Inter Milan manager has been mocked by so many at home here in England, even before his days in one of the toughest football jobs on the planet being England’s head coach. His tactics are derided as boring and uninspiring, largely by Liverpool fans, who barely even gave Roy the chance to step through the door before getting their knives out. Well, quite simply, they can do one. They offered little or no objectivity during his time on Merseyside. Anyway, their loss became Albion’s gain.
He was at the helm during a period of transition for the Reds and unfortunately Hodgson was unable to offer up the style and results immediately sought after by Liverpool fans. He could well have achieved there, given the chance.
Now there are many ways the beautiful game can be played, there is no rule book. As sets of supporters who have both witnessed the splendour of Tony Pulis’ style and tactics (us for considerably longer), we can probably agree that watching a Roy Hodgson team is like seeing Barcelona (red and blue and all that!) play week-in, week-out compared to the drivel served up by the man in the cap at times.
Another thing I want to mention is those that have continually mocked the former Malmo manager’s speech impediment. Roy suffers with rhotacism, effectively it’s the inability to pronounce the letter ‘R’ correctly. Now I am not someone offended by too much, nor am I some sort of virtue signalling smart arse, but the joke gets very old, very quickly. For him to have been hammered like he was in the press, on social media and by supposed England supporters for so long just got extremely boring.
It was as if there was this intent on creating this bumbling idiot image of some older guy, and they were using his speech as a way to enhance that. He in fact did a very sound job with England considering the talent at the nations disposal is far less exciting than people make out. During these entire qualifying campaigns where England remained unbeaten, the praise for Hodgson was largely superficial.
It is a shame Hodgson was not given more support. The whole country appeared to want Harry Redknapp appointed as England boss when Roy was. Look where he is now. Jobless after receiving the boot from Birmingham City struggling in the Championship.
That is exactly where West Brom are heading after having relegation confirmed on Tuesday with Southampton beating Swansea City. In fact, Hodgson would have been the perfect fit for us after sacking Pulis, and I have no doubt he would have seen us safe too. No jealousy at all, honest!
That brings me on to our fixture this weekend, Albion’s last one in the Premier League for what could be quite some time. For just a bit of insight, anything that could have gone wrong, did. Player fallings out, players not showing drive and commitment, players stealing taxis whilst in a foreign country (you know, that old chestnut!), a board who could not organise a piss up in a brewery and two permanent managers who could not spell the word ‘win’ let alone achieve a few.
Then, came along Darren Moore. With the club seemingly already relegated after the board failed to sack Alan Pardew soon enough, despite a sequence of eight straight defeats, the job looked to be arduous to say the least. The man affectionately known as ‘Big Dave’ from his playing days with the Baggies, has shown all of the qualities required to motivate not just the players, but the fans and everyone connected to the club and get some results in the bag. I genuinely believe that if we had appointed Moore two or three games earlier, we would be staying up.
The game this weekend effectively means nothing for both sets of fans, but hopefully we can see an exciting game of football to finish off the season. It is no less than both sets of fans deserve after the struggles of a relegation scrap, albeit an unsuccessful one for us!
I have enjoyed what I have seen of the Eagles this season. You have not always been consistent, however you have turned on the style quite a few times and got players in and around the box threatening a lot more than probably a lot of people would imagine. Your ridiculous amounts of penalties show that! He is not a bad all rounder is he, Luka Milivojevic? Best left-field fantasy football signing this season, until every cottoned on to it!
Having the pace and trickery of Wilfried Zaha helps too. There have been questions about his attitude from some quarters, but having him grounded and performing is of key importance and maybe that is something only acheivable with the right people around him. I am not quite sure a move for him would be appropriate just yet, and it is a shame we will never see him pull on an England shirt again after he swapped his allegiences to his country of birth.
To summarise, Roy Hodgson has done a great job, he was the right bloke for you despite many maybe not thinking so. He will continue to get the best out of players and next season could well be an exciting one for Palace fans.
I wish you and Roy Hodgson all the best for 2018/19.