The growing concern when it comes to Roy Hodgson’s management at Crystal Palace

HUDDERSFIELD 0

CRYSTAL PALACE 1

Zaha 38

BY MATT WOOSNAM AT JOHN SMITH’S STADIUM

Leopards never change their spots, and neither does Roy Hodgson. For the former it matters not, but for the Crystal Palace manager it is perhaps beginning to be concerning that his stubbornness and resistance to change continues unabated.

At Fulham his side did not play exceptionally well, but they took all three points. At home to Liverpool they battled but again failed to perform at a level above average. At Watford they showed signs of excellence let down by greater periods of poor play. At home to Southampton they were poor until the final 15 minutes where they began to create against a side sitting back to preserve a lead.

At Huddersfield on Saturday, they were once again so indebted to Wilfried Zaha for a sumptuous piece of skill to fire a stunning effort past Jonas Lossl. Without it, and without late counter-attacks, this was just another drab, rigid performance lacking in creativity or entertainment. It was fortunate for the visitors that their opponents were largely abject throughout.

Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo pulls back on Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew.

There is no divine right to entertaining football, indeed much of Palace’s football in past seasons has been little more than functional, but it has been effective. Perhaps less pressing than finding a way to win without Zaha is finding integrating him into the side to maximise his effectiveness.

It is more that Hodgson is reluctant to engage in changes in-game than overall. To his credit he opted here for a formation which appeared to place Zaha and Andros Townsend either side of Jordan Ayew. But the defensive duties of both shackled them and at times hindered their ability to support a somewhat isolated centre forward. The earliest substitution has come in the 70th minute this season, when in each game except the opener, changes ought to have taken place earlier.

Zaha’s entertainment value is off the scale, but in previous years it has been even greater. He will seemingly always find a way to bring his talent to the fore, and he did again here, despite once again otherwise having limited impact. Much like at Vicarage Road, it was when he opted to go wide that he and Palace prospered. This goal was not too dissimilar to that which he powered past Ben Foster.

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha reacts to a foul during the Premier League match at the Kirklees Stadium, Huddersfield

He was unsurprisingly treated roughly by Huddersfield’s defence. Once again he picked up a booking for tempestuous behaviour. He sought revenge after a multitude of challenges on him went unpunished by Lee Mason. The Ivorian went on to clatter into a Terriers’ player in his own half and pick up his third yellow card in four games. For all his talent, he still retains some of the immaturity that was prevalent in his early days.

Zaha was not the only Eagles player to enter the referee’s notebook. James McArthur was also penalised for an early foul, and both Luka Milivojevic and Cheikhou Kouyate were fortunate not to join them.

Despite a formation change, nothing really appeared to differ to any previous games this season. It seemed peculiar that with ample pressure exerted by the hosts, including Aaron Mooy smashing an effort against the post after 58 minutes, Hodgson refused to call upon any of his potential replacements.

Crystal Palace’s James McArthur (left) and Huddersfield Town’s Aaron Mooy battle for the ball.

Milivojevic has struggled for form this season, and it showed no signs of returning here. Kouyate was less effective due to the captain’s errors, forcing him to cover two roles in one and limiting his side both defensively and offensively. The Serb looks off the pace but it is difficult to pinpoint why.

The three-man midfield merged into a five but was no more effective than the 4-4-2 formation deployed in the opening stages of this season. With Milivojevic ineffective and struggling with what appeared to be an arm injury, it would have been sensible to bring on Max Meyer to help retain possession and exploit Huddersfield’s desperation for an equaliser by countering quickly. As it turned out there were multiple late counters, but their effectiveness was inhibited by poor passes which fell behind rather than in front of Zaha, or a lack of support. The frequency in which counters broke down as a result of misplaced or underhit passes will have alarmed Hodgson. One delightful piece of control from Zaha formed one of those attacks, and he drew a foul with ease. Pressure off suddenly. But too often they spurned promising opportunities.

Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew (left) and Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo.

The tale of their opening five fixtures has been a reticence for in-game changes and a continuation of wasteful interplay when looking to counter attack. Perhaps when assessing the options for alternatives it is difficult to see any game changers, with Meyer the only stand out amongst a group of mediocre options.

The gameplan worked at the John Smith’s Stadium, albeit predominantly as a result of one man. Against superior teams, Palace will be found out.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Hennessey 5, Wan-Bissaka 6, Tomkins 6, Sakho 6, Van Aanholt 5, Kouyate 6, Milivojevic 4, McArthur 5; Townsend 5 (Schlupp 90), Ayew 5, Zaha 7. Not used: Guaita, Ward, Kelly, Riedewald, Meyer, Sorloth.

7 thoughts on “The growing concern when it comes to Roy Hodgson’s management at Crystal Palace

  • 18th September 2018 at 9:46 am
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    Spot on article milivojevic needs some time on the bench kouyate in for him and myer in midfield. Our defence looked dire as well at Huddersfield that needs addressing tactically

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  • 18th September 2018 at 12:13 pm
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    Zaha has improved with every season where as the rest haven’t. I warmed to Roy last season but it’s become obvious the team would be relegated without such a special player.

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    • 18th September 2018 at 1:40 pm
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      Sorry forgot to mention an improving AWB along side Zaha.

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  • 18th September 2018 at 2:11 pm
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    I agree with the replies but would add that Meyer should be given some game time. I would have him in from kick off as he is very comfortable on the ball ond likes to move forward rather than sideways! He could be an attacking midfielder and would be an alternative player moving forward to relieve the almost solo work of Zaha.

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  • 18th September 2018 at 8:35 pm
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    Oh so easy to throw stones now!
    We all knew what we would get with Roy but at least we are still a premier side!
    The fault doesn’t lie with the manager it’s mush higher than him.

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  • 19th September 2018 at 1:10 pm
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    One of the basic problems as I see it, is that James McArthur is a fan’s favourite.
    He was knackered on Saturday – I was there. Missed an easy chance setup by Zaha that he should have scored and should have been subbed for Mayer.

    To be honest Mayer should be starting against stronger teams alongside Luka and Kouyate and weaker ones then Luka or Kouyate whomever is playing worse should be dropped for James.

    Article is spot on. We were gettting completely overrun by Huddersfield the second half and it is only down to terrible finishing from Huddersfield that we came away with 3 let alone 1 point.
    Roy should have brought Mayer on much earlier straight after their inside of the post shot and possibly Sorloth on once Ayew was being outmuscled off through balls or long balls.
    Ayew did well though, except one terrible mis-hit shot second half.

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  • 21st September 2018 at 12:44 pm
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    Fans seem to think that CPFC is a big time club. We are not we lack the financial might to compete, our off season transfers were , shall we say thrifty…I think wolves spent 100 million, we spent 8 million pounds….it’s going to be tough to stay up,,I hope I’m wrong as it stands were a 1 man team, who should’ve been starting for England , which is another balls up.

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