Roy Hodgson’s news was not new to Crystal Palace’s key men

Roy Hodgson will leave Crystal Palace at the end of the season
Roy Hodgson will leave Crystal Palace at the end of the season (PA Wire)
22:30pm, Tue 18 May 2021
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Roy Hodgson told key figures at Crystal Palace “a good while ago” he would leave at the end of the season despite confirmation only days before the campaign is set to conclude.

While the 73-year-old has repeatedly avoided questions about his future in press conferences during recent months, chairman Steve Parish, sporting director Dougie Freedman and American owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer were all aware a new manager would be in the dugout next term.

Hodgson was able to keep the news from most others, including his players who were only told on Tuesday, but the Croydon native felt it was important his boyhood club could plan appropriately for what will be a ninth consecutive season in the Premier League.

“I haven’t lost my love of the game and I don’t see anything happening in the future that would disturb that,” the former England national team boss said ahead of Arsenal’s visit on Wednesday.

“Nothing has tipped me, it’s not been a question of anything has happened which has tipped the balance and made me think I don’t want to be here anymore.

“It’s been far more of an intellectual process and decision than that and a decision really I have been coming to over a very long period of time. I did let the chairman Steve Parish and Doug Freedman know a good while ago now because I thought that was the fairest thing to do.

“We were beginning to get to a situation where plans for next season were coming up more and more and it didn’t seem right for me to be in some way taking part in those discussions knowing full well that I had made up my mind that I was going to have this as my last season at the club.

“I hopefully have given them a chance to at least have a good period of time where they can contemplate now what the future holds for them and what they would want to do to take the club forward.”

Unrivalled top flight stability at Selhurst Park has been achieved by Hodgson, who will depart on Sunday at old club Liverpool having taken charge of 162 Crystal Palace matches.

I did let the chairman Steve Parish and Doug Freedman know a good while ago now because I thought that was the fairest thing to do.

It looks likely to bring down the curtain on a remarkable career, which started at Halmstad in 1976 and has seen the Londoner win silverware in Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark while regularly punch above his weight with teams closer to home.

Plans are already under way to find Hodgson’s successor with Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche among those linked with the role in SE25.

But the current boss will not be involved in that process, adding: “No, I shall not have any advice and shall not be attempting to get in any consultation process.

“For me it is 100 per cent what Steve Parish and his partners in America want to do. Doug Freedman will be charged with a lot of responsibility and I can only wish them luck in that job. What sort of manager? They need a good one.

“Many of Europe’s best managers are working in the Premier League and I hope the club will find the man they want and the club will go in the direction that it has been going in the past eight years.”

Hodgson’s final opponent on the touchline at Selhurst Park will be Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta, who is 34 years younger than the Palace chief.

He said: “Roy is an absolute legend. What he has done in football, for English football, what he transmits as a person, as a manager, the work he has done at different clubs, I think it is remarkable.”

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti is closer to Hodgson in age and believes his influence on the next generation of coaches is clear.

“Roy is a good friend,” the Toffees manager added. “In Italy, they have a good memory of him. He had a fantastic career, I think he helped football to be better and also he taught a lot of managers how to behave on and outside the pitch.”

Key players at Palace joined those to pay tribute to Hodgson, with top goalscorer Wilfried Zaha writing on Instagram: “I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you Roy for everything that you have done. Your wisdom has helped me understand a lot about who I am as a man and a footballer.”

Hodgson’s longevity in the game has inevitably brought low points, with his final tournament with England at Euro 2016 a sour end to four years of work while his spell with Liverpool was short-lived.

Asked about his advice to upcoming managers, the trailblazer for English coaches to work abroad noted: “To try and keep in mind you do need that sense of perspective, that sense of balance and most importantly of all you need – and I don’t know how you do this – to build up a certain mental resilience.

“Because there are going to be lots of knocks along the way, blows that do knock you down and you have somehow got to find that resilience to pick yourself up again.”

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