Crystal Palace must succeed in the next transfer window or face perilous future
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Roy Hodgson, Manager of Crystal Palace looks on ahead of the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sheffield United at Selhurst Park on February 01, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Prior to the enforced break, Crystal Palace were oozing confidence and were on course to achieve not only their best points tally in Premier League history, but Roy Hodgson also had Palace fans dreaming of the Europa League theme tune ringing around Selhurst Park.  

After a 2-0 win over Bournemouth, where Palace turned into prime Barcelona for the opening 20 minutes of the game, the European excursion was looking well and truly on course.  

However, since the win on the south coast, the Eagles have slumped with five consecutive defeats, causing the South London side to plummet down the table and turning the season that promised so much into a season that the Eagles’ faithful will be grateful to see the back of.  

Although Palace have secured their place in the Premier League for next season and their eighth campaign in a row, the losing streak has highlighted the problems which are corroding the club from the inside and causing genuine concern about the future of the football club.  

Roy Hodgson

Brand of football  

For the first time since Roy Hodgson took the reins of the South London side in 2017, Crystal Palace have recorded their fifth straight Premier League defeat, with Hodgson's conservative approach to games starting to become his downfall.  

Hodgson has worked wonders with what he has had at his disposal, since steering the club to safety after the Frank De Boer fiasco, however, the ceiling appears to have been reached, with his brand of football too cautious to take Palace to the next level they yearn to reach.  

The 72-year-old’s stubborn choice of playing squad has suffocated Palace's attacking prowess.  

The Eagles are the second lowest scorers in the Premier League, with only the Championship bound, Norwich City, having a worse record than Palace. Adding to that, out of their 37 competitive fixtures played this season, including Colchester and Derby in the Cup competitions, Hodgson's side have failed to find the net on 16 occasions.   

The identical midfield  

His choice of midfield options has limited the creative spark from the middle of the pitch. Hodgson's favoured midfield three of Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur and Cheikhou Kouyate have between them just 5 assists from the whole season.  

In the Premier League, Jack Grealish, Dwight McNeil, Pablo Fornals, Robert Snodgrass, and César Azpilicueta all have the same or more assists to their name than Palace's combined midfield trio.  

The frustration at the over cautious midfield arises from Hodgson's failure to embed Max Meyer and Victor Camarasa into the starting line-up. Meyer was highly regarded for his passing ability at Schalke and Camarasa had won Player of the Season at Cardiff City before joining Palace.  

Yet, Camarasa played a grand total of five minutes for the club and cut his loan spell short due to a lack of playing time, and Meyer has been shoehorned into a wide position for most of his Palace life.  

Lack of investment  

Since Roy Hodgson arrived at Crystal Palace in 2017, the Eagles’ hierarchy has starved Hodgson of Premier League television nectar, and has been reluctant to invest into the squad, feeding Hodgson with scraps to mastermind a squad built around free transfers, loan signings and Premier League castaways, such as Kouyate and Ayew.  

For three consecutive seasons, the Eagles have failed to invest properly in a squad. Since the winter window in 2017, the Palace hierarchy has rewarded Hodgson's demanding work with a grand total of around £25 million to bring in players to fit his system.

To put the lack of investment into perspective, Tyrone Mings move to Aston Villa in the summer, was worth more than Hodgson has been provided with in terms of transfer power.  

Crystal Palace received £50million for the sale of Player of the Season and academy graduate, Aaron Wan-Biassaka. This left a gaping hole in the heart of Palace’s defence, however, Palace failed to re-invest the money into the playing squad, again causing much frustration about the direction in which the club was heading.  

Against Everton in February, Roy Hodgson named the oldest Premier League starting line-up, with an average age of 29 years and 230 days. Palace have an ageing squad, of which the majority are on extortionately high wages, a cocktail which has proved sour to swallow for Premier League survival.  

What is the recruitment strategy?  

Crystal Palace's recruitment strategy has also come under fire since the arrival of Dougie Freedman as sporting director.  

Palace tried to change their recruitment strategy in the winter window; deals had been agreed for Côte d’Ivoire Under 21 international forward, Christian Kouamé, and West Brom and England Under 20 versatile full back, Nathan Ferguson.  

Whilst neither would end up at Palace due to injuries, it was somewhat of a surprise when the only player who arrived during the window was a 28-year-old Cenk Tosun, who would have had to join Palace on a permanent deal for around £20million if he had not torn ligament in his knee, which cut the deal short.  

It appeared short-sighted too, when the loan departures of Alexander Sørloth and Connor Wickham were sanctioned, leaving Palace with a misfiring Christian Benteke as the only available centre forward.  

Palace, due to their recruitment, or lack of it, have left themselves short in the full-back department too, with Van Aanholt the only first-team left-back, and Joel Ward, the only recognised right-back.  

The future  

The upcoming transfer window is vital for the future of the club. You only have to look down the football pyramid to see the ex-Premier League stalwarts languishing in the lower Leagues such as Stoke, Swansea, Wigan and even Sunderland in League One, after years of top-flight success, struggling to rediscover their identity.  

Steve Parish and Co. will have a big question to answer this summer, with the rebuild needed more than ever, which is whether Roy Hodgson is the right man going forward for the club?  

The establishment has reportedly already started to interview new potential managers, in a search for a new philosophy and era for the club moving forward.

Former Watford boss, Javi Gracia, Sean Dyche, the man who has been the driving force behind Burnley's success in recent years, and ex-Bayer Leverkusen manager, Rodger Schmidt, are all candidates who have been earmarked as men who could take the club to the next level.  

Palace confirmed recently that their academy has been awarded Category One status by the Premier League. This is an achievement that will see the club place a big emphasis on youth development and on nurturing the talent to become first-team regulars.  

In this upcoming window, the club will have a monumental challenge on their hands to address these issues which have been allowed to run unchecked and to keep Palace's Premier League tenure intact. 

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