When the news dropped that Roy Hodgson was to leave Crystal Palace at the end of the Premier League season, those listening closely in south London may have been able to hear the collective sigh of relief.
After four seasons, the former England boss was stepping away from the club. Not sacked, and with no anger, just a mutual agreement that the journey had run its course.
The fans’ desire for him to go is no reflection on our opinion of him. We will always have respect, and be eternally grateful for the job he did between 2017 and now… but it’s time to take a step in a different – more progressive – direction.
Roy Hodgson waved goodbye to Crystal Palace fans after the final home game of the season
Although grateful for the memories, Eagles fans are looking forward to a new era at the club
In our eighth season in the Premier League, the football had become predictable, boring and frustratingly negative given the talent in the squad, with players like Wilfried Zaha and Ebere Eze stunted by the tactics.
I know to many that will sound arrogant, and people will be looking at their iPhones shouting ‘You’re a Palace fan!’. I understand that, and I know that to many, eight seasons in the Premier League is a mere pipe-dream. I know that we should be grateful for Hodgson and trust me, we are. He’s a Palace boy, a club legend.
But put yourself in our shoes for a moment. We have enjoyed a steady rise from the Championship into the Premier League, finishing 11th, 10th, 15th, 14th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 14th in our top-flight campaigns since promotion.
Each season, we flirt with the top half, threatening to burst into it and make a run towards Europe, but each time we drop off and are resigned to more mid-table mediocrity, sometimes drifting perilously close to the drop-zone.
To begin with it was great, but now there is a desire for something more. What is football without dreams? Palace fans want a chance to follow our team across the continent; we want to do what West Ham, Everton, Leicester and Burnley have done.
We want to drink beer in Italian piazzas, singing ‘Don’t Take Me Home‘. We want to stand in an away end in Romania watching Wilf spinning his full-back. We want to fly back from Cyprus having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Anorthosis Famagusta in the third qualifying round of the 2023-24 Europa League.
With the talented Ebere Eze among their squad, the future could be bright in south London
Steve Parish needs to decide on his next manager soon or Palace risk relegation next season
I am grateful for the Premier League journey over the last decade, and will be eternally thankful to Hodgson for his outstanding contribution and hard work to get us where we are.
There have been some incredible memories: Andros Townsend’s volley in the win away at Manchester City, multiple victories against Brighton and that 3-3 comeback against Liverpool to name but a few.
But with Hodgson there was no real long-term plan. The squad has got gradually older, and this summer, with so many players out of contract, it is time for a change. Palace need a younger manager, someone who can lead our new project and push us on to the next level.
But here’s where the problems begin. As is seemingly always the case with Palace, it has not been as simple as getting a different man in to kick-start the new era.
Despite knowing that Hodgson would be leaving well before the end of the season, we are hurtling towards the new season with nobody steering the ship. This Wednesday, the fixtures come out and as it stands nobody will be giving the team-talk before the opener.
Hodgson’s tactics were perceived to be too negative by a large majority of the Palace faithful
The likes of Andros Townsend (right) aren’t signing new contracts until the manager is sorted
Nuno looked close, but then a cruel twist of fate meant Everton were also looking for a new boss and… imagine my shock, he seems to be off to Merseyside.
Interviews have been held with a number of candidates, with the likes of Steve Cooper, Frank Lampard and Sean Dyche all being touted. With each of those, though, there are issues.
If it’s Cooper, Dyche or Barnsley’s Valerien Ismael, there will be compensation owed to their current employers; with Lampard, there are question marks over his experience. Eddie Howe is another option, but fans aren’t sold on his ability either.
In reality, whatever Steve Parish and the board decide to do, it’s a risk. We have given up our stability to gamble on a new manager in the hope that we can improve the playing style, and eventually move into the top half of the Premier League.
But right now, we’re stuck in limbo. Half the squad are out of contract in two weeks’ time, and despite concrete offers on the table for some of them, no player seems willing to sign on the dotted line until they know who’s in charge.
Nuno looked like a possibility before Everton swooped and he looks destined for Merseyside
Steve Cooper is another option, but it would require compensation and he lacks experience
That is completely fair, but with each passing day, we enter a more precarious position. There has been talk of a £15m bid for Conor Gallagher, but what young player is going to sign for a club without knowing who the manager is?
It’s vital that Parish and Co sort out Palace’s future this week, before we sleepwalk towards the Championship and ruin nine years of hard work in the top-flight.
It is not wrong to want change, and Palace fans are still in agreement that it was time for Hodgson to step aside, but the fans’ dream of Europe could be over before it’s even begun if we don’t appoint a new man soon.
With the new season edging ever closer, we don’t know who the manager will be and we don’t know who the players will be, but there is one guarantee at Crystal Palace… it will be a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
It’s never boring in SE25, and as fans we are fully behind Parish and understand his desire to do right by the club but now it’s time for action, before this incredible Premier League journey comes crashing to a devastating end.
Time ran out for Hodgson, and it could run out for Palace in the Premier League next season
Fans are desperate to see their team push on towards the European places in the top flight