Belfast Telegraph

Davis strikes to hand Hodgson a debut defeat as Palace boss

Crystal Palace 0 Southampton 1

By Declan Warrington

Roy Hodgson's challenging start to his reign as Fulham manager has given him the conviction he will succeed at Crystal Palace.

The 70-year-old's first fixture at his latest club, against Southampton on Saturday, ended in a 1-0 defeat as Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis fired the Saints to victory.

And it could be much worse for Palace, who face Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in the league over the coming weeks.

The Eagles became the first team to lose all five of their opening Premier League fixtures without scoring and also surpassed Newcastle's record wait of 438 minutes for a first goal of the season, which had dated back to the 2005/06 season.

Amid that backdrop and the impressive form of City, United and Chelsea, it seems likely that run will be extended to eight defeats from eight.

Hodgson lost his first three league matches with Fulham, against Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal, after his appointment in December 2007, but he regardless inspired them to survival on the season's final day and he said: "We lost the first three.

"It was a similar sort of thing: Arsenal, those type of teams.

"Don't forget at Fulham we got out of the relegation zone on the very, very last game of the season with a win at Portsmouth, so we lived with that hanging over our heads for a very long time, and we were greatly helped by the fans. The fans at the moment still believe this is going to change overnight, and are beginning to realise it won't."

For Southampton the match was also significant for the return, off the subs' bench, of Virgil van Dijk following his near summer-long attempts to leave.

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