BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
With two wins from their final two league games of this season, Crystal Palace could make club history with their highest points total in the 20-team Premier League era.
Currently on 43 points, in 12th place, the Eagles could get up to 49 with wins against Cardiff City today and Bournemouth in the finale next Sunday at Selhurst Park – beating the 48 gained in 2014-15 under caretaker Keith Millen, Neil Warnock and eventually Alan Pardew – but current manager Roy Hodgson has little time for the numbers providing extra motivation in the final push.
“Neither I or the players are statisticians or historians – I had no idea about those facts,” said Hodgson to the South London Press about the potential record. “What points we had three or five years ago, 15 years ago, it really is just a piece of history, a bit of important trivia for those who pride themselves on knowing those things – it makes no difference to us.
“But, of course, it would be nice to get 49 points although it’s not something that we can start suddenly holding up as a goal, which if we don’t reach, dismisses all the good work that has been done to get where we are today.
“My job is to be out there every day to prepare for the game ahead,” he added. “The only thing which interests me is those 11 guys to which I say; ‘right you are the ones I’m choosing’, that they are prepared and do their best in the game – any motivation will be based around what we feel need to do with this team to get the points we need.”
In their nine previous seasons in the Premier League, the Eagles did reach 49 points once before – in the 1992-93 season – but it was in the then 22-team league and they got relegated.
Relegation will be a theme later today with Warnock, now coach of Cardiff, helping his team to avoid the drop with a win, and hoping that Brighton fail to pick up any points. But Palace boss Hodgson is only fixating on three points for his side.
“The bottom line for Cardiff and Brighton is which one is going to stay up,” said Hodgson about the crunch match his side will face in Wales. “As far as we’re concerned it will be nice to get some more points and we will try to because that’s the nature of the business and the nature of our DNA; we want to win football matches, that’s the only thing that gives us pleasure.
“It will be an unhappy bunch of people travelling back from Cardiff if we lose because it won’t give us any satisfaction if 43 points was better than last year or the year before; we’d only be gutted that we lost a game of football we wanted to win – it’s important for me to highlight this.
“Points get you relegated or win you championships; we’ve already heard with Manchester City and Liverpool’s current points it would have won them the championship in previous years, but it’s a bit of trivia and it doesn’t make any difference.”