Belfast Telegraph

Graeme Souness backs Roy Hodgson to keep Crystal Palace up if he becomes boss

Graeme Souness is convinced Roy Hodgson will lead Crystal Palace to survival if he is appointed as the club's new manager.

The 70-year-old is in talks to succeed the sacked Frank de Boer and is expected to oversee his first fixture at Selhurst Park on Saturday against Southampton.

Hodgson will become Palace's fourth manager in less than 10 months, work with a side that has lost all four of its Premier League games without scoring and be asked to secure survival at a club that has been fighting relegation in recent years.

The former England boss led Fulham and West Brom to safety having been appointed to work with arguably inferior squads from later stages in the season.

And Souness is so confident in Hodgson's ability he believes Palace may even avoid a season-long battle against the drop.

"It will see Palace in the Premier League this time next year," Souness, an ambassador for the British Heart Foundation, told Press Association Sport.

"His knowledge, being in the situation before, his natural enthusiasm will rub off on the players and it'll be a steady appointment.

"He knows the English game, the players he's working with, what's needed to be successful in the Premier League.

"People in football would look at Palace and think, 'that's a squad that shouldn't be in a relegation battle' but that's where they find themselves after four games.

"You're in it until you get out of it. You don't want to be down there for too long. Turning up for work is a problem, games are a problem, getting the crowd back onside is a problem. They need to start winning soon.

"You learn from your mistakes. Roy's been punched on the nose; he's also been successful, and he's at an age where he won't listen to too many people when it's going badly or going really well.

"Maybe he feels he has to take a job to get England out of his system. If you have a good job somewhere, that doesn't make you a fabulous manager, and if you've one bad job that doesn't make you a bad manager. Roy's had the good and bad."

There has been criticism of Palace's board, for handing De Boer a three-year contract and then sacking him 77 days later after only five games, and for the club's chairman Steve Parish, for publicly discussing the team's performances.

After Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Burnley he said he believed their hosts had an inferior squad, and the 64-year-old Souness said: "He should concentrate on the business. If he has any concerns, speak to the manager about that behind closed doors.

"I don't think it's helpful when chairmen start talking about football. Speak to your manager; nine times out of 10 the coach will let it go in one ear and straight out of the other, because what do chairmen know about football? That should be kept in private.

"(Palace's board) have to be big enough to hold their hands up and say, 'we got it wrong (in appointing De Boer)'.

"He wouldn't have had the very best players. They would have needed longer to grasp what he was trying to change than if he'd gone to Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United, where there's better players."

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