Get through the next couple years of “Royball,” and the club will be better for it. Roy Hodgson’s style of play can be frustrating and even infuriating at times, but perhaps it is irrelevant to the state of the football club. Progressing off of the pitch must be priority number one for us at the moment, and a stable first team is vital in accomplishing that.
Roy Hodgson gets results. We’re four wins and a draw away from the magic 40 point total. Largely, this is a result of his teams being incredibly disciplined and well organised. Only Liverpool, Leicester and Sheffield United have conceded fewer times than Roy Hodgson’s Palace this season. He is seeing us through a difficult time. We sold off our player of the season last year and haven’t paid an eight-figure fee since Mamadou Sakho. Even amid an injury crisis, we’re still finding ways to win.
On the other hand, we’re probably lucky to be where we are. We’ve played a lot of boring football and put in quite a few uninspiring performances. He’s a stubborn manager who’s frozen out talented players and made questionable substitution decisions, if he makes them at all. Sometimes this stubbornness costs us a few points. Sometimes we don’t show up in rivalry games.
While these things can drive Palace supporters mad, it’s becoming quite clear that Hodgson will still manage to keep us a mid-table side. We’re probably not going to qualify for Europe, and we’re (knock on wood) going to be safe from relegation. That is certainly an acceptable place to be, especially when a lot of pundits predicted trouble for us this season.
We have the oldest manager in the Premier League. He’s not going to be here forever. He’s not the manager that we plan for the future under.
So here’s the point – if we can use the next couple of seasons under Roy to stabilise the team on the pitch and improve off of it, we could set ourselves up for unprecedented success in the next decade.
On the pitch, it’s important to develop our youth players. There are players to be found in our academy, we’ve seen it time and time again. It would be nice to see players like the likes of Mitchell, Pierrick, Woods and Aveiro see first-team minutes before the season ends, especially if we’re safe in a month or two. It’s also important to remember that players like Sørloth, Meyer and Riedewald will be entering their prime around the time when Hodgson is likely to retire. There is a chance that even if they’re not able to contribute much now, they could be star men under our next manager in a different system.
Off the pitch, begin work on the stadium and the new academy site as soon as possible. The longer those projects hang in the application/finalisation/construction phase, the more the team on the pitch will struggle. It makes sense to not spend large sums in January when they might not be the type of player our next manager will use.
Using cheap experienced veterans in the meantime is smart, as long as we’re also trying to develop youth players and take on younger projects that can contribute in the future, or we can at least flip for a profit.
When Roy’s time in management comes to a close, if we prepare ourselves correctly, we can appoint a progressive manager and put him in a position to succeed. Some cash reserves, highly-touted prospects, a stadium that loosens FFP restrictions and of course, our Premier League status should be what we strive to have when that time comes.
In an era of football that requires immediate success, patience and planning could spring us into our golden age in the next decade. If we can progress in other ways, the most important thing is that for the time being, we have a stable team on the pitch that will keep us in the Premier League.
We can certainly accomplish that under Roy Hodgson.