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Roy Hodgson is fighting fit for first game at Palace

by 15/09/2017 19:40:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Roy Hodgson replaced Frank de Boer as Crystal Palace manager after awful start
  • He said he was ready to put the shock Euro 2016 Iceland defeat behind him
  • Hodgson said he has got back in shape and is ready for the challenge at Palace

By Matt Lawton for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:32 EDT, 15 September 2017 | Updated: 19:40 EDT, 15 September 2017

Copers Cope Road in Beckenham might not boast the history and grandeur of Chantilly but Roy Hodgson must have been struck on Friday by certain parallels with his previous press conference.

There was the presence of reporters who had followed him during his often turbulent four-year tenure as England manager, two Rolls-Royces outside in the car park and a member of the same FA media team, now working at Crystal Palace, sitting alongside him.

Hodgson, it has to be said, looked a good deal better than he did 14 months ago. In France he seemed broken, slightly disorientated as well as distressed by that astonishing defeat against Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

Roy Hodgson attends his first pre-match press conference as the current Crystal Palace boss 
Roy Hodgson attends his first pre-match press conference as the current Crystal Palace boss 

Roy Hodgson attends his first pre-match press conference as the current Crystal Palace boss 

He could not understand why he even had to give a press conference when he had resigned within minutes of the final whistle in Nice the previous evening. 'I don't really know what I'm doing here,' he complained.

On Friday, the 70-year-old appeared brighter, more bullish, fitter too. 'It would have been unusual if I had not felt shattered that day,' he said. 

'I and my coaching staff cared very deeply. We had high hopes of going a good way into the competition. To lose in the way we did against a team many thought we should have beaten, that was a bad day.

'But it's well over a year ago. I've had lots of time to get my mind back on track, and it didn't take a year. It took less. I've been waiting for this opportunity to come along, but I've had time to work on my fitness as well. I'm pleased to hear you say I look younger. That's down to a good few sessions in the gym.'

Hodgson is pictured alongside Joanne Budd (right) who was his media manager at Euro 2016
Hodgson is pictured alongside Joanne Budd (right) who was his media manager at Euro 2016

Hodgson is pictured alongside Joanne Budd (right) who was his media manager at Euro 2016

There was a reluctance to reflect too much on England when Palace will be interested only in how he can revive a team who, under Frank de Boer, failed to score, never mind secure a point, in their first four Premier League games.

More of a concern will be that Saturday's game against Southampton will be followed by encounters with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. Having revealed he had watched a recording of the Iceland game, Hodgson declined to say what he made of it.

'First of all, I'm not interested in Iceland,' he said. 'It's a past chapter. Who cares? You might. But not a lot of the Palace fans reading this, the ones who interest me. There might be people in Carlisle who'd like to know, but I'm in south London, Beckenham.'

Frank de Boer was sacked by Crystal Palace after the side failed to win a league game
Frank de Boer was sacked by Crystal Palace after the side failed to win a league game

Frank de Boer was sacked by Crystal Palace after the side failed to win a league game

Curiously, he was also reluctant to discuss reports of the year he spent at Palace as a player. 'I've just read a very amusing article where three people have spoken about my playing career and I've never met any of them in my life,' he said. 'I've had 40 years as a coach. But as far as Palace is concerned, I drew a net over that a long time ago.'

He said he never even got close to playing first-team football, instead recalling a game he attended as a spectator in 1961 as his fondest Palace memory as the son of a Croydon bus driver. 'The one that sticks in my mind was the famous Real Madrid team of Puskas and Di Stefano playing at Selhurst Park,' he said.

Any talk of redemption, of simply wanting another job to avoid Iceland marking the sad conclusion to a largely successful career, was also dismissed. 

'Careers are defined by small moments and nothing I can say or do will change that,' he said. 'It was a four-year period, one I look back on with satisfaction on a lot of things, although I can't look back with satisfaction on not progressing at tournaments in the way we'd have liked.

Hodgson's England career ended after their shock 2-1 defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016
Hodgson's England career ended after their shock 2-1 defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016

Hodgson's England career ended after their shock 2-1 defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016

'But I didn't wake up one day determined to get another job,' he said. 'I'd have been working a lot sooner if that had been the case. But I feel I can do a good job, can still contribute, so if a job came at the right level, I wanted to take it. And this is it. 

'It couldn't have been a better offer for me, going back to my roots, the club I've supported from afar. Words like redemption mean nothing to me.

'I'm feeling as good as I've ever felt. You can't tear up your birth certificate, but it's how you feel. There were times in my 40s when I felt a lot less physically and mentally adept than I do today. I can't prove that. You'll have to take my word for it.'

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