Soccer

James McArthur hails Roy Hodgson’s impact at Crystal Palace

It is unclear whether Roy Hodgson will still be with Crystal Palace next season (Steven Paston/PA)
It is unclear whether Roy Hodgson will still be with Crystal Palace next season (Steven Paston/PA)

Roy Hodgson’s future at Crystal Palace is up in the air but outgoing midfielder James McArthur believes the veteran manager breathed fresh life into the Eagles during his second stint at the club.

Hodgson returned to Selhurst Park two months ago on a deal until the end of this season, taking over at a side that were winless in 13 games and hovering three points above the Premier League drop zone.

Palace won five of their remaining 10 fixtures under Hodgson to quickly banish thoughts of a relegation tussle and they finished 11th – above Chelsea – after a 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Afterwards, Hodgson was tight-lipped about whether he will still be at Palace next season and McArthur revealed he and his team-mates expressed their gratitude towards the 75-year-old.

“In the changing room all the boys thanked him,” McArthur said in quotes on the Palace website. “We don’t know what’s happening next year, but we thanked him for his effort this year.

“The coaching staff have been brilliant, the team are playing with real confidence right now and he’s instilled that in the lads.”

McArthur, who announced last week he would leave Palace after nine years, made his 253rd and final appearance for the club at the weekend, replacing Cheick Doucoure midway through the second half.

Forest took the lead just after the half-hour through Taiwo Awoniyi but Will Hughes struck moments before McArthur was brought on as a substitute as the spoils were shared on the last day of the season.

“It was (an emotional moment) but I was just focused on trying to get back into the game and winning it,” McArthur said.

“I don’t think we were as good as we have been in recent weeks, but Forest are a good side who make it hard for you. When they get that goal it’s tough to break them down.

“Thankfully we got that goal and were pushing for another one, but it wasn’t to be. We’ve got strong characters in that changing room.

“We’re one of the best teams in the league for coming back and we showed once again what we’re made of.”

The draw extended Forest’s unbeaten sequence to four matches at the end of the campaign, with narrow wins against Southampton and Arsenal this month preserving their top-flight status.

Hughes’ strike denied them just a second victory away from home this term but Forest head coach Steve Cooper hailed the effort of his side before turning his attention towards the next few months.

“The guys have all stepped up recently,” Cooper said. “They deserve a lot of credit.

“We’ve now got to have a productive summer. There will be a little rest, but we’re going to be working during the summer to make sure we return for pre-season in a better place on and off the pitch.

“We cannot stop, we cannot stand still. By staying in the Premier League, we’ve given ourselves such a good opportunity to build and keep growing.”