Newly-appointed Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has issued a warning to Eagles fans, claiming that survival is not guaranteed, despite his close ties to the club.
Hodgson was appointed by Palace just last week, replacing Frank de Boer, whose nightmare reign lasted four games without registering a single goal or point.
In spite of the buzz - or lack of - surrounding Hodgson’s appointment, the former England manager could neither inspire his new team to victory on his opening game, nor to the back of the opposition’s net, losing 1-0 to an impressive Southampton side thanks to an early goal from Steven Davis.
With five losses and no goals, Palace have officially made the worst start to a Premier League season in history. They now face Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in their next three league games.
Hodgson - who at aged 70 is the oldest man to take over a Premier League side - was quoted in midweek saying he was returning to 'the club of my boyhood', but was quick to eradicate the idea that survival was imminent thanks to his South London roots.
“I did not walk in here as Christian Gross did once and say, ‘I’ve come on the train’,” Hodgson said referring to the former Tottenham boss. “I didn’t say I’m a local boy.”
Luckily for Palace, Hodgson is no stranger to a relegation dog fight, successfully keeping Fulham in the Premier League in 2008 - though the beginning of his reign in West London shared similarities with Palace’s disastrous start to this season.
“We started so badly,” recalled Hodgson, speaking to the Daily Mirror. “We lost the first three (Premier League games). It was a similar sort of thing: Arsenal, Manchester United, those type of teams.
“It was a squad of players we had to assess, organise, work out which ones going forward would be the ones that could help us out.
“Going forward, I’ll have a much better idea of the playing personnel, and that’s a very important factor.”
Hodgson has showed confidence in that he feels he can get the best out of this Palace side, but has again warned the fans that it will not happen overnight.
“I still think we will be okay, and we’ll work to be okay, and this group of players will follow me and follow the others to make sure we’re okay.
"But it won’t be by the end of October, possibly — it might be quite a long way forward.
The returns of both Wilfried Zaha and Mamadou Sakho will certainly aid Palace from both an attacking and defensive perspective in the coming weeks, which is welcome news for Hodgson, who has been told that relegation is ‘unthinkable’.
“I’ve obviously been told from the club’s point of view that survival’s everything, that it would be unthinkable that we go down, and we’re going to work during the months ahead to make sure it doesn’t happen.”