Interim Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is confident supporters will back his struggling side when their relegation battle resumes against Leicester after the international break.
The 75-year-old, who managed Palace for four seasons from 2017 to 2021, was announced on Tuesday as the temporary replacement for his own sacked successor, Patrick Vieira, who left Selhurst Park on Friday.
Although Hodgson has for now only come out of retirement as a stop-gap solution to see out the season, tasked with securing the Eagles’ safety in the top flight, his return has been met by mixed reviews from fans and pundits alike.
“Crystal Palace is known for its fighting spirit and I have no doubt that all our supporters will fight with us, beginning with the visit of Leicester City a week Saturday,” said Hodgson.
“It is a privilege to be asked to return to the club, which has always meant so much to me and to be given the important task of turning the team’s fortunes around. Our sole objective now is to start winning matches and to get the points necessary to ensure our Premier League status.”
Palace, despite having occupied 12th spot for 10 consecutive weeks, have been sucked into a relegation fight and now sit just three points clear of the drop zone.
Equally worrying for Hodgson is the proposition of inheriting a side winless in 2023 and in a four-way tie with Wolves, Everton and Nottingham Forest for the fewest goals, 22, scored by a Premier League team this season.
There was some cause for optimism after Sunday’s loss to Arsenal in which the Eagles, under newly-appointed assistant manager Paddy McCarthy, produced five shots on target, having registered none in their previous three matches, Jeffrey Schlupp also managing to deny the league leaders a clean sheet.
Palace, who have battled through a lengthy spell facing higher-level opposition, also have the perceived benefit of facing eight sides lower down the table in their final 10 matches.
Hodgson’s temporary tenure will allow the club’s hierarchy some breathing space as they explore their options ahead of a permanent summer appointment, but the decision to turn again to Hodgson has been branded an uninspiring move.
Former Palace midfielder Darren Ambrose was among the sceptics, telling Sky Sports: “I have to be honest it isn’t the choice I would have made. It’s not exciting me, if I put my Palace head on.
“Looking at the reaction, not only of social media but talking to a lot of friends supporting the club, it’s not filling them with much hope and excitement, which sounds a unfortunate and it sounds a bit harsh at the moment, having Roy just arrived back at the football club.
“However, we have to try and be positive now with Crystal Palace. Their supporters have to back him. They have to look out now for the future and hope he can bring the last 10 games some positivity.
“Three or four wins and Palace will stay up. That’s what he’ll be aiming for.”
Former Palace owner Simon Jordan was less pragmatic in his assessment, telling talkSPORT: “You got rid of this fella (Hodgson) two years ago and believed he’d run his race, only to go full circle again and go back to him because you’re in the…shtook.
“You’re devoid of ideas, you don’t know what to do, the Vieira experiment for two years didn’t work and you’re rewinding the clock to groundhog day.
“Is it smart? Is it desperate? I think it’s both. It’s a desperately smart move.”