Crystal Palace’s trip to Everton tomorrow is overshadowed by an unlikely, slow-burning managerial feud.
Everton boss Sam Allardyce mocked his opposite number, Roy Hodgson, when he replaced the Palace head coach as England boss in 2016. Allardyce, who led Palace to 14th in the Premier League last season before retiring, accused Hodgson of being indecisive during the Three Lions’ embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 and referred to him in a press conference as ‘Woy’, viewed as a mocking of the 70-year-old’s speech impediment.
Hodgson is yet to receive an apology from Allardyce – whose own England career was hardly spectacular, managing just one game before being sacked for being caught up in a corruption scandal - but admitted in his pre-match press conference on Thursday that they would both shake hands before and after the game.
Both managers have had contrasting starts to life at their new clubs this season, having each been appointed midway through the campaign. Allardyce came out of his brief retirement to replace Ronald Koeman at Goodison Park but is yet to win over the Toffees’ supporters and hit a new low last weekend thanks to a 5-1 defeat at Arsenal that left the Merseyside club in tenth-place – a disappointment given their vast summer spending.
Hodgson also replaced a sacked Dutchman in Frank de Boer, who had been appointed in the summer following Allardyce’s departure from Selhurst Park. The former Holland international led the South Londoners to one of their worst-ever starts to a season, losing his first four league games before he was sacked. Hodgson suffered defeats in his first three but a shock win against Chelsea sparked a remarkable turn of form and Palace have lost just two of their last 15 Premier League matches. The Eagles are 14th but enter a tough run of fixtures with no fewer than 10 first team players absent through injury.
Tomorrow’s meeting will be a story of two under-performing clubs trying desperately to make a last-ditched attempt to meet their pre-season expectations. Everton spent over £100 million on transfer fees in their quest to break the top six, but have since struggled to maintain a stable top-half position and a few of their summer recruits, mainly Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen, have been frozen out by Allardyce.
Meanwhile, Palace appointed de Boer in the summer expecting to push into the top-half but the Selhurst Park Dutch revolution lasted a matter of months rather than the three years that the former Barcelona defender was initially contracted to. Hodgson has rekindled the dream of a top 10 finish but that will be difficult with a seemingly never-ending injury list and a January transfer window in which they failed to add depth to a dwindling squad – only spending around £11 million.
Everton left-back Leighton Baines is nearing a return to action following a calf problem but will not be ready for the visit of Palace. Marten Stekelenburg and James McCarthy are long-term absentees.
Martin Kelly and Wilfried Zaha have recently been added to the players unavailable for Palace. Kelly was withdrawn in last weekend’s draw against Newcastle United with a hamstring injury while Zaha is expected to miss a maximum of six weeks with a knee problem. Julian Speroni could also miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon, Connor Wickham and Bakary Sako are long-term absentees.
New Palace signing Alexander Sorloth is expected to make his debut from the start, while Erdal Rakip could make the bench having impressed and scored in an under-23 fixture against Charlton Athletic on Monday.