By Matt Woosnam
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson insisted that his team will not go down without a fight if they fall out of the Premier League this season.
The Eagles are without a win in seven games, and sit 18th in the table, staring down the barrel at possible relegation to the Championship. Their cause was not helped by a 2-1 defeat by Chelsea courtesy of a Willian strike and Martin Kelly’s own goal.
But the Eagles boss said he would not let his players give in with eight games remaining.
“I believe in this group of players,” he said. “They have done extremely well. The last results haven’t given us the points we would have liked but in some ways that was to be expected given the quality of the opposition. But believe in them, they have a lot of qualities, not just in terms of fighting spirit and determination, they have qualities as footballers as well. They have to believe in themselves as much as I and my coaching staff believe in them.
“I’m enjoying the fact I’m working with such a good group of people – the coaching staff, players and the directors. The club has got an awful lot of qualities and a lot of things to commend it.
“We are desperately disappointed we are still near the bottom of the table but I would like to think that if they can keep doing what they have been doing the last few months we will make a good fist of it, and we certainly won’t go gently out of the league.
“I know one thing, we are going to make certain that we make it as a big a fight as we can possibly do and they’re going to have to bash us over the head to get us down. We are not going to surrender in any way.”
Hodgson refused to blame Christian Benteke for a dismal first-half performance, concerning himself with a lack of effort from several of his players as Chelsea outplayed the visitors comprehensively in the opening 45 minutes.
“No, it was not him alone, a lot of players didn’t give me the commitment and desire to win the ball, run around and get in positions. It would be unfair to put it totally on him,” he added.
“All we can do as coaches is give them the chance to play, put them on the field and prepare them in the right way.
“They’ve got to show the type of courage as they showed in the second half. Not just physical courage but mental courage to get on the ball, take opportunities and play.
“We’ve seen Van Aanholt score two goals getting forward from the back. We’ve seen young Bissaka flying up the right wing most of the second half despite the fact that opens us up to counter attacks – but he was still doing it, and this is the type of courage we are going to need.”