He may be 72, but Roy Hodgson has proven himself to still be more than good enough as a Premier League manager.
Even after suffering the worst start in Premier League history two years ago, he managed to keep the club in the top tier and this season he has achieved the fast start few Palace fans would have expected.
He’s arguably confirmed his position as a legend of the club in a short period of time. However, every club needs ambition and under Hodgson, progress is likely to be limited.
First of all, we must discuss his age. There have been many great managers who have carried on well into their 70s, but Hodgson is likely to be over the hill now.
He has been in the game for over 40 years and has found success in various countries around Europe. He’s won titles in Sweden and Denmark and made European cup finals with Inter and Fulham, but the game of football continues to evolve.
Unfortunately, Roy at his age is unlikely to evolve with the game.
Hodgson favours a predictably defensive 4-3-3 formation, organising his team to be hard to break down and fast on the break. This can have success, but at this point the style has become too predictable.
He will always favour a mobile, strong, defensive minded midfield three, guaranteed to include James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic. This tactic can pay dividends against the so called ‘big six’ as we’ve seen over the past couple of seasons with wins away against Manchester City and Manchester United.
However, against the clubs Palace should be expecting to compete against, they have to find a way to take control of games and pose more of an attacking threat than they currently do.
This is where Hodgson’s stubbornness can hurt Palace. His possible lack of trust in attack minded players like Max Meyer and Victor Camarasa means they rarely get on the pitch. Despite their ability to thread passes forward and create openings through clever attacking play, Meyer has become a peripheral figure and Camarasa has become almost a forgotten player under Hodgson.
Furthermore, Hodgson has at times demonstrated either an unwillingness to change to the situation or an inability to do so, the perfect example being the 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United in which the Blades played with essentially six in midfield.
Palace were heavily overrun in midfield but Hodgson was unable to change the situation, sticking with a defensive set up for most of the game, meaning as soon as the Eagles were behind, they struggled to recover.
With an inadequate threat going forward, showing little intent of playing attractive, attacking forward and little chance of controlling games even against teams of a similar standard, Palace aren’t ever going to win enough games to battle for a top eight finish or Europe as Steve Parish has mentioned previously.
Therefore despite all the talk of the Palace board and Hodgson himself about the need for a striker, few fit the bill that suits the current style of play.
Further to that, it is possible that Palace’s current style may make them an unattractive proposition to the level of players needed to reach the next level.
At the moment the players Palace are likely to attract are just good enough for the Premier League but they're hardly stars or game changers, leaving more and more pressure on Wilfried Zaha. If Zaha goes, who knows what could happen.
However, Hodgson can only accept some of the blame. What he has available to him at Palace can be considered at best an average squad, good enough for mid table but not good enough for anything better.
For this to change, a lot has to come down to the board. The decision to expand the stadium was a welcome announcement as well as changes made to the training ground to produce better youth players. In the long term, it will likely play a big role if Palace do manage to progress.
In the short term though, due to the American investors’ unwillingness to put funds into the playing staff and Parish’s inability to produce vast sums, Hodgson has done a fine job with what he has.
But if Palace want to be able to produce attacking football which can attract top players and help them compete, money will always be an issue. For the past few windows we have seen Hodgson calling for a new striker but it hasn’t come to fruition.
The summer window was unacceptable. It left Palace short of support in the full back position after Aaron Wan Bissaka left, and short of a striker too.
The lack of investment has forced Hodgson’s hand more than perhaps he would have liked in terms of how he sets the team up. With the lack of funds, it is understandable why he sets the team out to be difficult to beat, rather than free flowing and potentially more open at the back.
This will only ever see Palace battling relegation or finishing mid table. Despite Hodgson’s successes at Selhurst Park, his age, plus his inability to adapt to different situations mean Palace will always struggle to push the likes of Leicester or Wolves for European places.
An ideal end to the season for Palace would be the Americans being bought out of their stake in the club and Hodgson retiring at the end of his contract. He would likely have kept his hometown club in the Premier League again and would be able to leave the club knowing he did well with what he had.
The fans will always be grateful for what he has done for the club and he can leave with his head held high but now is the time to move on. A younger, fresher manager is needed.