Roy Hodgson felt that another slow start from his Palace team cost them dearly as they fell to a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The Eagles’ long run for a Premier League point and goal continued as goals from Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and a Marouane Fellaini brace claimed a comfortable victory for the Red Devils, with Mata opening the scoring after just two minutes – the third time this campaign already that the Eagles have fallen behind in the opening five minutes, giving Hodgson’s patched-up team more adversity to overcome following a raft of injuries.
In his post-match press conference, Hodgson spoke about a range of topics, including:
Letting in early goals: “It doesn’t help; when you’re losing and you’re short on players as we are at the moment, including the quality ones that could help us out at the moment. You’re asking a lot of the players on the field to test their defence and then you’re doing it from 1-0 down.
“You find yourself then asking questions of their character and resilience, but I don’t want to criticise them in any way. We took a few blows in Scott Dann getting injured so we had to draft Damien Delaney in as James Tomkins is sick, and we played a left-winger up front where he’s never played before.”
Another heavy defeat: “At the moment we just have to accept that we’re a boxer who’s fighting in a weight class that he’s perhaps not able to handle at this moment.
"When you come up against Manchester City and Manchester United you’re going to take blows to the chin and get knocked down, but I don’t think we stayed on the canvas – I thought we tried to get ourselves off there as best we can.”
Staying positive: “The lessons we’re learning in these games and the way the players are attempting to respond to the work and the messages could stand us in very good stead. We’re not going to have 38 games against Man City and Man United – at the moment these teams are getting good results and winning heavily against everyone they play against.
“I think if we can stop the players doubting themselves too much and keeping them relatively positive and looking forward to the matches ahead, then who knows. We might find at the end of the season we look back on this terrible spell and say it was something that helped build the character we’re looking for to stay in the league.”
Attacking options: “I thought there were periods in the game where our passing wasn’t that bad and our composure on the ball was reasonable, but of course we didn’t have that threat in the final third and that was the problem.
"We don’t have many options – you saw the young boy Freddie Ladapo come on for his first Premier League game after being signed from non-league a couple of years ago, and he’s never had a sniff of first-team football. That’s our choice at the moment or we go to the 4-6-0 system where you don’t play with a recognised centre-forward and use a midfielder.
“That’s the situation we find ourselves in – I’m not crying or complaining about it. I knew that the centre-forward job was going to be a problem because we had the misfortune of not getting the signing we wanted in the last minutes of the transfer window, so that’s something we’ve got to learn to live with. Maybe Zaha when he comes back could give us a bit more potency up front alongside Andros Townsend.”