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  • By Yann Tear

Eagles fans love Roy and Ray - but they know Parish move can't be the way forward

Welcome back Roy.

Less than two years on from the emotional send-off, the Croydon boy is back for what we presume is one last hurrah. At least it will be until the next emergency call-out for a man so steeped in football, he can never fully step away.

It seems to be a battle of wills between the 75-year-old and 74-year-old Neil Warnock, who has resurfaced at Huddersfield for another fire-fighting act. Who will have the greatest staying power? Who will have the greater number of 'one final tour' appearances to their name?

Having seen Hodgson many times wandering around Richmond since his 'final retirement' after that disastrous failed attempt to keep a doomed Watford up last season, the thought has occurred that this is a man who couldn't bear to be outside the inner sanctum. He has always looked like a man in search of a new footballing mission.

He is also a proud man who would also have hated his final work as a top-line manager to be declared such a flop. This is a man with a very long and distinguished domestic and international career. Having the chance to rewrite his ending at his boyhood club was too much of a carrot to resist.

So, Roy's mindset is obvious. He knows the players he is inheriting. He knows how to organise a team. And he clearly loves having Ray Lewington alongside him, whatever the project. Getting the old duo back together again. A timeless combo.

The trouble is, Palace are already quite well organised. They are not a basket case shipping goals left right and centre (even if Arsenal hit them for four at the weekend).

Just how bad had they become under Patrick Vieira, during a post-World Cup run of 12 without a win? Were they on a one-way ticket back to the Championship?

They let in only nine in 10 matches ahead of his sacking. They are simply a team which have lost their way up front. The goals have dried up and wins have inevitably gone missing as a result.

That run of 12 included draws with Man United, Newcastle and Liverpool and the narrowest of defeats to United at Old Trafford and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They gave Man City a tough night before succumbing 1-0. They were within seconds of becoming only the second team this season to win at Brentford. Had they won there, would Vieira have been sacked?

They were not a collective which appeared to be downing tools and losing faith in the head coach.

They remain in midtable - albeit not far above the drop zone in terms of points - and have a very favourable fixture list here on in, which would have given them every prospect of recovering under a young manager who only a year ago was being lauded for assembling an exciting band of brothers and thrilling players in the shape of Ebe Eze, Wilf Zaha and Michael Olise.

The FA Cup semi-final last season was also further evidence of progress. A team starting to evolve from the foundations laid down by Hodgson, his predecessor.

The fans have good reason to think fondly of Hodgson and the four years he had in charge. He helped them in Steve Parish's quest to become an established Premier League outfit.

But it is that obsession which caused the Eagles chairman to panic and tip Vieira overboard. There is every chance that Hodgson will guide Palace to safety, but the smart betting would still have been on Vieira achieving the same.

The trouble is that once this season is over, the feeling will be 'what now?' If Palace are not prepared to stick with a manager when bumps in the road are encountered, can there ever be real development? If not a manager like the French World Cup winner, who brings with him the sort of experience and respect that can galvanise a dressing room, then who?

The Holmesdale End faithful will definitely be in two minds when they see Roy lead out the Eagles against Leicester City after the international break on April 1. They will love seeing him, but equally, surely, have a nagging sense of loss. They know this is a retrograde step, just at the very moment they were ready to scale greater heights.


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