This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
They say good things don’t last forever.
In Crystal Palace’s case, good things can often be few and far between.
Entered into administration back in 2010. Lost a number of fan favourites such as Darren Ambrose, Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha – before his 2014 return. A gutting FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United.
A constant roller-coaster ride in which the passengers on board have had little time to breathe and almost no chance to admire anything overly positive.
On the topic of Roy Hodgson’s tenure in SE25, this is something that can – contrastingly to the above – be viewed as a good thing.
Damien Delaney was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and was also a player who the Selhurst Park faithful grew to love, and his comments to The Athletic on the 72-year-old manager speak volumes.
“Roy was, and is, such a good manager. Palace are extremely lucky to have a guy like him, anyone who complains about him… well, I’m not really sure what to tell them.
“But you should thank god or whoever put him at Palace and made him want to stay because every morning, they are so lucky. With Roy, the sky’s the limit. If you keep him in charge, the club will go on to very good things.”
And it seems that the enthusiasm for Hodgson is shared by the hierarchy at the club. According to the Daily Mail, Steve Parish has confirmed that the club have opened talks over an extension to his current deal, which expires in 2020.
When the time eventually arrives for Hodgson to move on, however, it should feel like a pivotal moment.
For years, Parish has been chopping and changing the man in the Selhurst Park hotseat – sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances, sometimes down to his own shortcomings.
Let’s start from promotion back in 2013.
Ian Holloway took the reins for just eight games in that first season back in the Premier League.
Tony Pulis replaced him until the start of the following campaign.
Neil Warnock then stepped in, lasting until the festive period of the following season.
Then Alan Pardew was his replacement, before being sacked in December of 2016.
Sam Allardyce came in to replace the former Palace midfielder, but lasted just a few months before resigning.
Then emerged Frank de Boer, whose spell in charge was even shorter – the Dutchman lasted for the duration of four league games and 77 days before Hodgson was appointed.
That is seven managers in six years – there has rarely been a moment to stop and make a considered appointment, with the majority of these bosses arriving mid-season or as a stop-gap.
The only moment in which Parish had a chance to actually appoint a measured figure who would be beneficial in the long term was the month and two days between Allardyce’s resignation and De Boer’s arrival, and look how that turned out.
Since Parish bought a stake in the club he supports to save them from administration back in 2010 – alongside the rest of the CPFC2010 contingent – he has not had a manager oversee more Palace matches than Hodgson.
That period between Allardyce’s exit and De Boer’s appointment was Parish’s first chance to steady the ship and make the right appointment. On that occasion, he failed.
However, Hodgson’s fine work over the last two years has enabled the Palace chairman to have another shot. It’s provided time to reflect and consider the future.
What the 54-year-old needs to do is think about the direction he now wants to take the club in.
It has already been reported by The Athletic that Parish and Freedman – now Head of Recruitment at Selhurst Park – are keen to sign players in their early 20s with a view to the future, while the same outlet has reported that Hodgson’s desire to work with ‘functional, experienced players who largely lack resale value’ may prove to put a spanner in the works of that vision, at least in the short-term.
A young, flexible and modern coach who can work with what he has upon his arrival, but also knows the profile of player he is after and the style of play he would like to implement for the future is key.
You look at managers such as Eddie Howe, Daniel Farke and Brendan Rodgers. They are people who have a clear philosophy and employ young players at the heart of their systems, such as Emiliano Buendia, James Maddison and Ryan Fraser, to name a few.
Signing players like Gary Cahill and appointing the Allardyce’s and Pardew’s of this world should be enough to keep Palace up year on year, but this is more about the direction in which Parish wants to take the club.
Hodgson’s work has enabled the Eagles chief to have another shot at the tough task, and Parish can’t afford to mess it up. There may not be another Hodgson-type fireman out there to spare his blushes and even if there is, hiring one would effectively be putting the sturdy foundations Hodgson has built to waste, pushing Palace back into the survival spiral.
With managers being discarded and cherry-picked from the conveyor belt on a regular basis, it’s become easy to label the modern game as chaotic and impulsive. But a football club executive’s revelation to The Athletic suggested that meticulous and extensive research goes into every managerial decision.
“I always have a working list of potential targets that is updated on a regular basis. The long list has somewhere in the region of 100 coaches on it, but then, that can be applied and reduced down depending on who it is you’re working for.
“The challenge is to ensure you’re looking at managers or coaches who fit the DNA of the club or national team.”
Palace fans better hope that Parish is adopting a comparable mindset.
Hodgson’s eventual exit represents a chance for Parish to take his beloved club to a higher echelon.
That transition must start with making the right choice of new man in the dugout.