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Roy Hodgson admits ‘big surprise’ at Crystal Palace job offer but insists he never felt old enough to retire

The 75-year-old, who was in charge of the Eagles between 2017 and 2021, was renewed last week on a contract until the end of the season following the dismissal of Patrick Vieira.

Struggling Palace are on an alarming 12-game winless streak in the top flight and sit just three points above the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s home game with 17th-placed Leicester.

Former England manager Hodgson, who couldn’t prevent Watford from qualifying for the Championship last season, was surprised to be approached by the south London club. Still, he hasn’t been shy about returning after conversations with Chairman Steve Parish and believes his retirement age is misleading.

“I’ve come to terms with having retired so to speak because that’s what everyone says,” said Hodgson, who is 16 years older than the Premier League’s second-oldest manager, the West Ham boss David Moyes.

“I walk in the street, people say to me: ‘Are you enjoying your retirement?’. But at the same time, I never really felt old enough to retire, if the truth is known. I know I am, I know my birth certificate tells me I am.

“But what I feel doesn’t really tell me that, so I guess there’s always been an opening there for a project like this where I know very clearly what the project is, what the goal is. , why I am here and what is expected of me.

“No one is out there on my behalf looking for these things. On both occasions [at Watford and Palace] it came to me and i had a choice, do i accept or do i not accept?

“It was a big surprise, of course. But I must say it was a pleasant surprise.

Hodgson had 18 games in charge at Vicarage Road last season after replacing Claudio Ranieri in January 2022 and is still feeling the scars of relegation with the Hornets.

He has 10 games to avoid a similar fate at Selhurst Park, but admits he can offer no guarantee of getting into an ‘aerial dogfight’ with eight rival clubs.

“I’m afraid of bad experiences or unpleasant experiences like trying to save a club from relegation and then not succeeding – that’s more scarring than teaching, there’s no question about that,” he said. -he declares.

“I just have to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again because I know what a very painful and unpleasant experience it is for everyone. It affects an awful lot of people so I’m determined here not to let it happen again.

“But if someone says to us, ‘Give us a guarantee’, I will say to them, ‘It’s football, there are no guarantees, we’re in a fight, we’re in a dogfight’.

“We have a slight advantage, but not a huge one, and we have to make sure we do everything we can on the training ground to prepare the team.

“Admittedly, I won’t think much about that experience at Watford. I had to put that behind me and focus fully on this one.

Palace are still awaiting their first win of 2023, having failed to pick up three points since a 2-0 win at penultimate Bournemouth on New Years Eve. The Eagles have taken just five points from a possible 36 since then, scoring just five goals in that span.

“It’s so easy to lose confidence, it’s so easy to let the black dog take over to some degree and make you doubt all the things you think are good to do,” said Hodgson, who returned with a longtime assistant. Ray Lewington.

“Really, our main task is to make sure that these players don’t lose confidence and start thinking that we can’t do it.

“It’s easy to say those things, it’s an easy subject to talk about, but it’s another thing to try to make it happen and get those performances on the pitch.”

Additional reports by AP.

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