“As bad as I’ve seen it” – Roy Hodgson backed despite

Liverpool have excelled at Crystal Palace recently, despite the narrative, but will Roy Hodgson dent their Premier League title hopes this weekend?

Jurgen Klopp‘s side head to Selhurst Park for the Saturday lunchtime offering, knowing how vital another win would be in the title battle.

While the horrors of 2014 will always create an element of concern when Liverpool head to Palace, the Reds have won on eight of their last nine visits there.

The Eagles are ticking along in their usual mid-to-lower-table manner, but there is growing frustration surrounding Hodgson and whether a new manager would get more out of the squad.

Ahead of the game, Henry Jackson spoke to actor and Palace regular Robbie Scotcher (@RobbieScotcher) to discuss Hodgson’s future, Liverpool’s title chances, VAR and more.

 

How would you assess Palace’s season so far?

I’m writing this after the Bournemouth game on Wednesday night. It’s slowly going from promising to frustrating to ‘when does the cricket season start’!

The board tried to make positive moves in the summer, but due to our business relying on other deals to go through, we ended up starting the season very light.

But we got points on the board and were looking good for mid-table or maybe even creeping into top half of the table.

Then Eberechi Eze was kicked off the park, and with Michael Olise still injured, we lost our spark.

But defensively, Crystal Palace are still solid. We got everyone back, then the Luton game happened, with Eze kicked back off the pitch onto the treatment table and Cheick Doucoure limping off with a potential season-ending injury.

Which takes us from the end of last season and playing some bloody good stuff, to watching some pragmatic football instead.

Wednesday night it was just dire, though – as bad as I’ve seen it in a long time.

 

Is it time for a change of manager?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 19, 2019: Crystal Palace's manager Roy Hodgson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I don’t think so. There’s not an obvious replacement, apart from potentially Steve Cooper. Right now, we need to get to the point where either the players return or we invest in the squad.

I don’t think players spend a great deal of time on the training ground in December and Roy Hodgson knows this team inside out.

He has his faults and can come out with some clangers in interviews – he hates doing media – but a few weeks ago he went on a Palace podcast and listening to him was insightful and actually inspiring.

The only way I would make a change was if the perfect candidate to take the team forward became available.

I would like to see the board invest in the squad.

 

Who has starred and disappointed this season?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 23, 2022: Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s hard to think back after Wednesday evening’s shower of shit.

Most of the season the defence have been very solid, with the centre-back pairing the best we’ve had and Tyrick Mitchell finding the form that got him his England call-up.

He went off injured against Bournemouth, which is a concern.

Bringing in Dean Henderson made it look like Sam Johnstone’s time at Palace might be over, but the former went off shortly into his first game – ironically against the team we bought him from – and the latter has looked great ever since.

Odsonne Edouard has been showing some form and Jefferson Lerma has been great on a free, while Jordan Ayew, the Ghanaian Messi, has been an important player for us.

His holdup play and work rate have been excellent and we will miss him when he goes off to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew (L) and Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Olise is just starting to get going after missing the start of the season – when they’re both back on the pitch everything knits together.

Nathan Ferguson has been a disappointment for me, though, not that it’s his fault. We have had him for a few seasons and he has been plagued with injuries and never got going.

He is a really talented right-back that I’ll get to see one day.

 

Just how big a loss is Eberechi Eze?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 26, 2023: Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Manchester United FC and Crystal Palace FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s huge. Eze is so creative and at the centre of so much that we do well. Having him and Olise on the pitch is a handful for anyone.

He is such an intelligent player and everyone else is better with him on the pitch. He is that player that makes the crowd get on their feet.

Eze has just signed another contract with us, but I’m sure he will move on soon, potentially becoming a Champions League player.

 

What’s your take on VAR?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 16, 2022: Referee Anthony Taylor indicates a VAR review during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I still have the utopian view that no matter how much money is around, football should stay the same. From grassroots up to Champions League, over the white line, there isn’t any difference in the actual game.

I get goal-line technology, but I didn’t want VAR. I don’t think it takes into account momentum of a single moment or the feel of the game.

That said, now that it’s here, it’s not going anywhere, so we should look at improving the individuals using it – and not change the handball law a million times.

Our referees seem a bit arrogant on the pitch and then flap in the VAR van. The conversations over decisions seem like a free-for-all, with the loudest voice winning.

I think we have to remember that these are laws of the game, not rules, and some things are up for interpretation.

Pundits need to stop saying that was never a penalty, free-kick or handball when the new laws say it is.

 

Looking at Liverpool, how do you assess their title chances?

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 6, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool will definitely be up there fighting for the title until the end.

It seems open this season with the likes of Man City and Arsenal, and you’re playing some great football.

 

What has changed compared to last season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 29, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (2nd from L) celebrates with team-mates Ryan Gravenberch, Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Great recruitment. You needed to make changes and you brought in some really good footballers.

I love Darwin Nunez, who is the sort of player every fan loves and gets behind, and Trent Alexander-Arnold seems to be getting better and better.

The pace Liverpool play at is the most frightening thing, as well as being great to watch.

 

Where will the key battles take place at Selhurst Park?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 25, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (R) icb' Crystal Palace's Michael Olise during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I don’t think Liverpool have too many weaknesses, especially against a very depleted Palace side.

We may stand a good chance at set-pieces, though.

Alisson is potentially the best away goalkeeper I’ve seen at Selhurst Park. If he is out, then maybe that will unnerve the defence a little.

Olise has shown he can hit the target from anywhere, but I’m clutching at straws.

I don’t believe in the early kickoff being an issue – I think you beat us 7-0 at that time back in 2020/21.

We need our fans onside. If we can frustrate you a little or even grab an early goal, then we can get the crowd going.

We definitely won’t get a result with a quiet Selhurst park.

 

Finally, what’s your prediction?

Hodgson, Klopp (PA Media)

We will set up to lose 2-0 and maybe nick one.

We need a reaction from Wednesday, and while Liverpool are expected to win comfortably, this is an opportunity to put in a good performance.

That’s what I want from the game – a good, solid team performance.

I never say we will lose a game, so I will go for Crystal Palace 1-1 Liverpool.



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