Roy Hodgson believes victory at Southampton would allow his Crystal Palace side to “breathe more easily” as they edge towards Premier League safety.
Palace had been floundering before Hodgson was coaxed back to the club for a second spell at Selhurst Park following Patrick Vieira’s sacking.
The Eagles were just three points clear of the bottom three, on a 12-match winless run and without a win in 2023 when Hodgson returned.
However, since his arrival they have won two successive matches, including a stunning 5-1 victory at Leeds, and pulled six points clear of the bottom three.
“If we were to win at Southampton, which is no easy task and it’s much easier to talk about it than to actually do it, then there’s no doubt that would have a great effect on our confidence,” Hodgson said.
“It would take us up to 36 points and still give us seven games to get the extra points that we need, so it would be massive, but we’re going to have that in most of the games now going forward.
“From the platform of 33 points, I think with eight games to go there will be a lot of games where we’ll be saying ‘if we just win this next one then we might be able to breathe more easily’.
“But let’s get the games done first and let’s make sure that we keep going into the games with the right attitude, that we haven’t done the job until that day when, as the Americans put it, that fat lady sings, and we’re a long way off yet.”
Hodgson has successfully guided sides away from danger before, including when he was in charge at Fulham and they stayed up on the final day of the season, but his most recent managerial stint at Watford ended in relegation.
However, the 75-year-old insisted he was confident in the abilities of his team even before he took the reins up again at Palace.
“When I was asked to take the job for this period of time I was pretty confident then,” he said.
“Looking at this group of players and knowing them as I do and having watched some of the younger ones I was pretty confident then that this club should be able to do this.
“But, to be honest everyone says that – every manager who goes in, and there’s been a lot of changes recently, whether that’s people coming in on an interim basis like Frank (Lampard) and (Ruben) Selles taking over at Southampton, or Sean Dyche when he took over Everton – everyone was saying ‘we’ve got the confidence to do this’ or ‘we’ve got the ability to do this’.
“But you can talk about that as much as you like, but the fact is unless you can produce the performances on a Saturday or Sunday and win matches all the talk is going to be in vain.
“We’re very aware of that and we don’t talk too much in those terms, we prepare each game and we try to produce the right performance for each game and we believe that if we can do that it will be one hell of a survival.”