LONDON : Disgruntled Crystal Palace fans let their feelings be known for the second time in a week as they sat through a 5-0 hammering at Arsenal on Saturday, but manager Roy Hodgson remained defiant.
Hodgson was criticised for taking off Eberechi Eze during the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Everton in midweek, and towards the end at Arsenal a banner was unveiled against the club’s hierarchy.
The banner, which read: “Wasted Potential. On and off the pitch weak decisions are taking us backwards”, was taken down before two goals in stoppage time from Gabriel Martinelli turned a sound defeat into an outright thrashing.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea manager Graham Potter was in the crowd at The Emirates, increasing speculation that he is being lined up as a future Palace manager.
Palace, who are 14th, have managed only one win in their last 10 Premier League games and sit five points above the relegation zone. The 76-year-old Hodgson, who returned to the club for a second spell as manager in March last year after Patrick Vieira was sacked, said he understood the fans’ anger but still believes in his players.
“Today’s message was aimed at everyone in the club and the fans are entitled to their opinions and I understand their anger and disappointment,” he told reporters.
“We can make our excuses but the bottom line is if we are to go forward and avoid relegation we need those fans on board and to do that we need to start to win football matches.
“The message has got to be that the players have to stick with the work they are doing on the training field. I don’t think the attitude in the game was debatable, I didn’t see people losing hope, but we were playing a better team.
“I thought we kept going. I’m not going to let those last two goals change my opinion about that – 5-0 gives the impression you have been battered, but I didn’t think that was the case.”
There were some mitigating factors for Palace’s toothless display with striker Jordan Ayew and midfielder Michael Olise both unavailable, while Hodgson believed Arsenal’s first two goals, both from corners, could have been disallowed.
But Hodgson has been in the game long enough to know that the buck stops with him if results do not improve.
“That’s part and parcel of football,” he said. “These days staying in the Premier League is so important and relegation is such a fear for everyone. I’ve been working in these modern times for a long time and nothing has changed.
“When a team isn’t doing as well as it should be someone needs to be held responsible, and that’s the manager. There are no magic wands in football but I believe we have shown we have capabilities and I still believe in those capabilities.”
Whether or not the Palace board retain that faith may become clear before Palace’s next match, at home to Premier League bottom club Sheffield United on Jan. 30.