Roy Hodgson's no-nonsense, lack-of-ego style of managing is precisely what Crystal Palace has needed, and it has shown in the club's rise up the Premier League table.

By 90Min
December 18, 2017

"He was very interesting, like one of those experienced men you see in a pub sometimes who you can go to for a chat. He probably laid a lot of the foundations at West Brom. He’s a real good man and I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

It is not often that a player compares his manager to a wise pub local in a complementary fashion, but such was the impression of Roy Hodgson on James Morrison during their time together at West Brom, the Scot had lauded the 70-year-old for his down to earth, but meticulous style; it is this point in particular that makes Hodgson such an effective boss. 

For all the self promotion of the modern football manager in this day and age, there is a warmth about Hodgson that is more fitting to your granddad than a Premier League boss; a man who looks like he should be enjoying a pack of Werther's Originals in front of the fireplace rather than drilling tactical information into top flight players - but this is exactly the kind of figure that Crystal Palace needed after some egotistical appointments of late.

Firstly there was Alan Pardew, ever the egocentric. One story arose from his time at Newcastle which suggested that he stole his fitness coach's dinner simply because it looked better than his, citing the fact that he was the 'king' as his reasoning. 

“When the gaffer sat down with his backroom team, deciding on his order, he asked fitness coach Tony Strudwick what he was getting – and told him he’d take it if it looked good.

“When the meals arrived, Pards said to Tony, ‘Yours looks better, I’m having that,’ and swapped plates.

“I told him you can’t just take someone else’s dinner. Pards retorted, ‘When you’re the king, you can do anything.”

More topically, his time at Palace was full of self-centered jibes and actions. The sale of club captain Mile Jedinak in order to save his alpha male status being challenged is up there, so too is the swipe at his own bosses when he declared the the Eagles' American investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer 'don't know a lot about football'; Pardewisms at their finest. 

What soon followed the egomaniac, whose good spells at Selhurst Park were conveniently purely down to him and the bad spells through external influences out of his control, wasn't much better. 

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The former Ajax manager Frank de Boer touched down in south London just six months after Pardew's dismissal, and despite being regarded as a gentleman of the game, the alleged complaints from players about his training ground decisions reeked of self indulgence. 

Whether it be the fact that De Boer would join in his sessions and proceed to show off the immense skills from his playing days - ostracizing his players in doing so - or his decision to field players in the wrong position against their will, the whole situation gave off the stench of a declining manager desperately trying to salvage his own reputation after a dismal spell at Inter.

Back to the point however, Hodgson is a breath of fresh air. His press conferences just ooze a sense of decency and dedication to the task at hand, without any attempt to promote his brand or gain the upper hand in the footballing world. Why would he? This is a man who has managed over 20 teams throughout a coaching career spanning more than 40 years; there is accomplishment, belief in his own ability, and an unerring focus on dragging his boyhood club out of the mire. 

The 70-year-old knows what needs to be done. Soon after walking through the doors at Palace, he could see that the likes of Damien Delaney and Jason Puncheon, despite being big characters for the Eagles, were simply not good enough. Hodgson was bold enough to drop Puncheon despite him being the club captain, and has got his head down, rolled up his sleeves and eked the utmost he could out of a wafer thin squad when excuses could very easily have been justifiable. 

This has been done partly by backing his fringe players to the hills. Players such as Martin Kelly and Bakary Sako, peripheral figures for large parts of their Palace careers, have been praised relentlessly by Hodgson for their contribution. While this may seem basic man management, Pardew opted to deploy Kelly at left back in perhaps the former Liverpool man's third favorite position where he inevitably struggled, then consequently could be made as a scapegoat for Pardew's ineptitude. 

Kelly has since been a part of successive away clean sheets while Sako currently has two goals in two games, and with January approaching, the chance to make reinforcements will give Hodgson a chance to bolster his squad even more. 

Additionally, Hodgson hasn't just been a likable figure, but a record breaker. Having taken the reigns of a side who were at the time indulged in a record-breaking poor start, the former Liverpool boss has changed the Eagles' fortunes so much that last weekend's victory over Leicester saw them go a club record seven games unbeaten in the Premier League. 

All in all, Hodgson is a top, top manager and an even more admirable man. There is just something refreshing about seeing a 70-year-old taking to the training pitch on a freezing winter's morning, joining in with the jogging and laying out the cones when he should deservedly be putting his feet up somewhere exotic in his post retirement years, but it is just the man's infectious passion for the game that makes him who he is; a leader, a winner, devoted.

The much-traveled Hodgson also speaks five languages, further emphasizing his dedication to the game, and his Crystal Palace side are certainly speaking the same tongue at the moment. 

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