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Roy Hodgson maintained a composed attitude after Crystal Palace’s victory over Fulham, deflecting questions regarding Palace’s fifth-place position and best start at this stage since returning to the Premier League.
“You go from being relegated to Champions League!” he joked, batting away much furore about the Eagles’ standing.
Hodgson has previously explained his view on early surges and spells of form, and said post-Fulham that: “Maybe once you get over the halfway stage, [league position] is a bit more relevant but at this stage there are so many twists and turns [left].
“People tell me: ‘You’re ahead of Man City at the moment,’ but that doesn’t interest me. I’d like to be ahead of them at the end of the season but that’s another matter!”
The manager was then asked to drill down into why Palace’s start has been far brighter this season than many, and pulled out several key attributes of a recently strengthened squad in doing so:
“We’ve got a stronger squad,” he said. “There’s no question of that. Looking at the bench today there were some good players that had been kept out by the fact we had a good start and the guys who got in, for one reason or another, have managed to keep their places. That’s a major factor without a shadow of a doubt.
“I think the team discipline, organisation and work rate is also extremely important. Even on days when our passing and attacking play isn’t quite as good as it was today we still stay in games and give ourselves a chance of getting some points.
“And I think the team spirit is very good – the guys know what they’ve got to do to climb up the table and they’re all determined I think to do that.”
Stay tuned for full highlights and post-match reaction – available for free via Palace TV here or by clicking ‘Palace TV’ within the app.