Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace side have enjoyed a late burst of form to steer themselves clear of relegation. Three wins from their last four games have cemented Palace’s status as a top-flight team for another season, something that seemed impossible when the former England manager took over.
There’s been a strong case for dispensing of these boring recycled British managers for years now, with some viewing the safe 'established' option as an obstacle to the success of young managers in this country.
Despite this, Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes, Alan Pardew, Paul Lambert and Mark Hughes have all been offered new Premier League jobs this season. With Steve Bruce and Tony Pulis set to battle it out in the Championship play-offs, another favourite could be joining the fold next season.
These managers have overseen just shy of 3000 Premier League games between them and make up half of the top twelve longest-serving Premier League managers. In all that time they have amassed just five runner-up trophies and one Community Shield between them - not a single major honour.
So it's not surprising that they are often an unpopular choice with fans who would like to see their side grow and compete. This season has proved no different for those in the Premier League, who have enjoyed mixed fortunes.
With the exception of Allardyce, all the clubs who employed one of these managers this campaign were in serious threat of relegation throughout the season. Lambert and Pardew were unable to avoid the drop, with Pardew already paying the price and Lambert’s future still up in the air.
Moyes and Hodgson both needed vital wins in the penultimate week of the season to secure safety, with Hughes’ side still not mathematically safe, despite a win at Swansea.
Allardyce, by contrast, has had a great season but many felt his side (Everton) have underperformed after a hefty £182m outlay this season. A recent fan survey conducted by the club confirmed that fan approval is low for the Englishman as the board assess their options ahead of the summer.
Moyes has also had to deal with fierce fan protests and pitch invasions during a turbulent reign in charge of West Ham. Although Hodgson may not finish top of the bunch in the league table, approval-wise, he is on cloud nine.
He didn’t do much to inspire confidence upon his arrival at Selhurst Park after another disastrous tournament with the England national team. But it seems after chaotic season for the south London side, fans are actually grateful to their saviour.
Do Saints fans expect too much? Judging by the opinions online most people are totally uninspired by Mark Hughes at Southampton. Face the reality, we are ultimately sacrificing "style" for survival. Whatever the appointment it will be impossible to satisfy everyone #saintsfc pic.twitter.com/KEtdIRDGeq— The Ugly Inside (@theuglyinside) March 14, 2018
Hodgson has somehow succeeded where all his counterparts have failed in not just steering the club to survival, but endearing himself to the fans. How? Well, it’s possible that expectations were simply so low from Palace fans after a campaign that looked certain to end in relegation that safety warranted this affection.
An experiment with former Ajax manager Frank De Boer quickly became a nightmare. De Boer inherited a club whose last three permanent managers were Allardyce, Pardew and Pulis.
Unsurprisingly it turned out to be a squad incapable of playing the ‘tika-taka’ brand of football De Boer hoped to pioneer, instead producing some of the worst football in Premier League history. Not only could Palace not pick up a point in the Premier League, they couldn’t even manage a single shot on target under De Boer during his entire reign.
So it was a win-win situation for Hodgson. If he couldn’t keep them up, the damage had already been inflicted by De Boer. If he could, he would be a mastermind.
With so many others from the recycled managers list having come before him, Hodgson also represented a return to a familiar, safe style for the club. Fans had become used to rigid tactics that had spared their side from certain relegation for several seasons prior, with many welcoming a return to that approach after such a disappointing start to the season.
Hodgson offered almost immediate hope, beating Premier League rivals Huddersfield in the League Cup in his second game in charge. Two tough trips to Manchester kept Palace on zero points in the league before a crucial home victory against defending champions Chelsea.
Hodgson showed great ingenuity in his approach with unconventional formations that bypassed struggling players. £30m striker Christian Benteke was left out, with Hodgson favouring two wingers in Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend up front. The formation immediately paid off with Zaha grabbing the winner in that game against Chelsea.
It freed up the popular talisman to produce his best ever Premier League goal return and was instrumental in Palace’s survival. The new formation proved much more fruitful and whilst not always spectacular to watch, it raised Palace above their immediate rivals.
In the end, it was a combination of timing and tactics that led to Hodgson’s success. The situation at Palace was perfect for Hodgson to capitalise on, but his managerial experience allowed him to follow through on course to survival.
Hodgson makes a case for any clubs struggling next season to invest in the managerial merry-go-round, but when you consider the problems the others have faced, it might be time to put the old dogs out to pasture.