Renaissance man Roy Hodgson has still got it at Crystal Palace as he keeps Eagles flying high in Premier League
- Crystal Palace earned an impressive victory over Watford in Premier League
- Roy Hodgson revived his reputation after leaving role as England boss in 2016
- The Eagles manager was full of praise for free transfer signing Gary Cahill
The sight of Roy Hodgson, rheumy-eyed and emotionally raw in Chantilly, France, the morning after England’s Euro 2016 exit to Iceland was really something.
He was 68 years old and had resigned as manager of his country. As embarrassing exits go, this was up there with Elvis Presley meeting his death on the toilet.
Many of us supposed Hodgson would slink into retirement, forever remembered for that ridiculous result against a nation with a part-time football culture and a population the size of Leicester.
Roy Hodgson has rebuilt his reputation at Crystal Palace after resigning as England manager
Jordan Ayew’s brilliant striker earned Palace a valuable win at home to Watford on Saturday
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Guaita 6.5; Ward 7, Dann 7, Cahill 7, Van Aanholt 7; McArthur 6.5 (Milivojevic 70min, 6), McCarthy 7, Kouyate 7; Ayew 8, Benteke 7.5, Zaha 7.
SUBS NOT USED: Hennessey, Meyer, Townsend, Schlupp, Kelly, Riedewald.
BOOKED: Zaha, Kouyate, Benteke, Ayew.
SCORER: Ayew 28.
MANAGER: Roy Hodgson 7.
WATFORD (4-2-3-1): Foster 6; Femenia 5, Kabasele 5, Cathcart 5, Masina 5; Hughes 5.5 (Gray 84), Capoue 5; Sarr 6, Doucoure 5.5, Pereyra 4.5 (Pussetto 74, 6); Deeney 5 (Welbeck 74, 6).
SUBS NOT USED: Gomes, Dawson, Mariappa, Chalobah.
BOOKED: Femenia, Capoue, Doucoure, Pussetto.
MANAGER: Nigel Pearson 5.
Yet Crystal Palace took a punt in 2017, handing this Croydon-born coach the chance to revive his reputation. It is safe to say Hodgson, now 72, has taken it.
The south London club have reaped the rewards, too.
Saturday’s win, their third in succession in the Premier League, all but confirms their top-flight status for yet another season.
Jordan Ayew, a £2.5million signing by Hodgson, secured it with his eighth goal this season.
Watford, a week after defeating Liverpool, were contained by Palace, whose defence have now kept three consecutive clean sheets. Gary Cahill, 34, has turned out to be a fine addition.
Cahill, who was in tears the day England lost to Iceland in Nice, has been a rock for Hodgson and is surely up there with the signings of the season.
The central defender cost the grand total of nothing because he had been released by Chelsea.
‘I gave him the captaincy in Luka Milivojevic’s absence and he has been fantastic,’ Hodgson said after Saturday’s win when asked about Cahill.
Hodgson’s career appeared to be over following England’s Euro 2016 exit in France
‘How does he do it? It’s all to do with the man, the character of the man. His level of football skill and football knowledge hasn’t diminished.
‘His character as a person, his desire to be a good professional. We are so grateful we’ve got him. It was too big a gift for us to let it pass us by when Gary became free.’
As for Watford, Nigel Pearson said they were victims of their own downfall. He criticised their inability to finish chances but in truth they did not pose Palace too many problems.
After the Liverpool win, this was a reality check, and next up is a clash with Pearson’s old club Leicester. Palace are safe, but Watford remain in a relegation dogfight.
Hodgson praised defender Gary Cahill, who joined the Eagles on a free transfer last year
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