Roy Hodgson admitted that he was disappointed with his first game as Palace boss, and believes that his players are suffering with the psychological effects of their poor start to the campaign.
Steven Davis’ early strike would ultimately separate the sides, leaving Palace rock bottom of the table and becoming the first team in English top-flight football history to not score and lose their first five matches, as well as set a Premier League record of the longest time taken to score a goal at the start of a campaign.
In his post-match press conference, Hodgson talked about a number of topics, including:
The game: “It as a disappointing display – it was nervous and there was a feeling of anxiety which was there for all to see in the first half in particular, which wasn’t made easier by conceding the early goal.
“In the first half it was far too obvious that the tactic was to hit long balls up to Benteke and get knock downs but that didn’t produce any real rewards. In the second half we did a little better and got up to the ball in midfield, perhaps not as much as I would have liked but there were signs that we wanted to do that.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s return: “He was the only player I wanted to take a chance on, and I was pleased that I did because he played well. He cramped up and I was informed by the people on the field that he had to come off and couldn’t run anymore, but we got 80 minutes out of him which was positive.”
Psychological impact of poor start: “There’s no lack of attitude from the players in wanting to work and get better as a team and individuals, but psychologically we have a fight on our hands and we have to take that on.
“We have to try very hard that people don’t dig themselves into a grave. Statistics do that, but only what we do on the field can get us out of it, or make the situation worse. You can’t detect in on the training ground you, can only do so in matches when the crowd are there and every missed pass or lack of control is being viewed by 25,000 people in the stadium and millions on the television.
Plan for the next few weeks: “Words are cheap, and the work is shown in training and matches, and it’s going to be up to the players and coaches to take that responsibility and accept that this is a bad moment for the club.
“I’m not saying that the work we do on the training field will produce three or four Messis and Ronaldos in the next two or three months. We have got the squad of players that we have, and we need to work on them and improve the strengths and cover up the weaknesses. We need to be very analytical in the players that we have to ensure we get the best 11 players out there, and I haven’t had the chance to do that yet.”
Tough run coming up: “It’s five defeats, zero points and a tough programme ahead when you look at the quality of the opponents. It’s painful today, and I feel it’s going to be painful in some of the moments going forward, but there’s no way you can talk yourself out of that. We’ve just got to get down and work with these players.
“All I can do is to encourage the players to be as strong as they can mentally be. Sometimes strange things happen and when no-one expects you to win, you might get a better performance than you think you can get.”
Return to management: “I’m really pleased to be back – I’m delighted with the reception that I got from the crowd and I’m really happy to be back in the dugout at Selhurst Park. I’m looking forward to being back here on Tuesday night, but you’ll have to excuse the fact that I’m disappointed with the result and that we didn’t play better and give our fans some hope that this will all be OK.”