BY ROB SUTHERLAND
Roy Hodgson leapt to the defence of Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita following the stopper’s goal-conceding error against Sheffield United.
The Eagles manager said that while Guaita’s mistake was costly, his contributions this season far outweigh the price of this mistake.
“He was the first one to apologise after the game. But we said to him: ‘You don’t apologise for anything. Thanks to you, we are where we are – with 30 points from 25 games.
“He owes us nothing. We owe him an enormous debt.”
Hodgson is aware that the goalkeeper will come under scrutiny for the error, but he feels disappointed that that might happen.
“We’re saddened people will blame him, but literally no one at this football club will attach any blame to him.
“It is a fact and a part of football. These things do happen. I’m sad it’s happened to him and cost us a point in the game. But we’re in Guaita’s debt.”
Palace conceded the deciding goal midway through the second half, and despite efforts to find an equaliser, couldn’t make their chances count.
“It’s frustrating to find ourselves 1-0 down after not being under enormous pressure. But that changes the face of the game. They’re confident, they have had a lot of 1-0 victories, can defend well and make it hard to score.
“And the longer the game goes on, our play becomes a bit more desperate, rather than perhaps controlled as it had been in the first half, when we played some exceptionally good football.”
Palace will feel aggrieved that Sheffield United weren’t reduced to 10 men when George Baldock committed what looked like an obvious second yellow card offence, only for referee Andy Madley to dismiss appeals.
“I watched the first 30 minutes when they rarely got into our half, and [James] Tomkins gets a yellow card from the first foul adjudged to have been committed by us.
“I’ve seen Wilf fouled time after time, and then I see him fouled again, and that’s not a yellow card.
“So of course, with my Crystal Palace hat on, that could have been red. But referees have to make decisions and I am not interested in nit-picking every decision that’s made.”
PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD