Calvert-Lewin 87, Tosun 89
BY MATT WOOSNAM AT GOODISON PARK
There is often an inevitable clamour from supporters for the sacking of a manager following a prolonged period of poor performances and poor results, and for Roy Hodgson, a late defeat at Everton has ignited the ire of some.
It would be foolish and naive to suggest that Hodgson has entered sacking territory just yet, but come 9.45pm on December 5, it is not inconceivable that the Eagles boss could be teetering on the edge.
There are six Premier League fixtures for Palace between now and then – when the final whistle will have blown against arch-rivals Brighton, and they will almost certainly define much of their season. What happens in those games will likely affect whether Hodgson remains in charge, where his side is likely to be battling for the remainder of the campaign, and what will happen in the January transfer window.
Clashes with Arsenal (H), Chelsea (A), Tottenham (H), Manchester United (A), Burnley (H) and then Brighton (A) stand ahead in the coming six weeks. Even the fixture list is laughing at Palace.
Even the most optimistic of observers would not be so bold as to suggest Palace will come out of this period with a large haul of points.
But how many points they obtain prior to the trip to the South Coast will most definitely impact upon the sort of response they can expect should they fall to defeat against Brighton as well.
If all goes well it could be a celebratory mood after a positive result, but should it not, then things may well turn sour very quickly, and give Steve Parish significant pressure to make a change.
This is, of course, entirely predictive. It is possible Palace may go on a run of good form and this conversation becomes irrelevant.
But on their showings thus far, many do not hold out too much hope for that.
An hour of football had been played at Goodison Park when a match-defining moment occurred.
Wilfried Zaha tricked Seamus Coleman into felling him inside the penalty area. Here was an opportunity for Luka Milivojevic to step up and help put his wretched start to the season to one side.
However, the captain could only hit a tame effort down the middle of the goal, where Jordan Pickford was able to kick away with his feet.
Seldom did Palace have opportunities in this game, much in keeping with their previous eight, and so to lay waste to a golden one was barely forgivable.
It was a little ironic that the two late goals which earned victory for Everton came with direct involvement from all three of their substitutes. First, Ademola Lookman delivered an inch-perfect cross for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head powerfully past Wayne Hennessey, before less than two minutes later, Cenk Tosun raced onto a long ball and slotted through Hennessey’s legs.
At this juncture, with 89 minutes on the clock, Palace’s substitute’s bench remained at its full quota of seven players.
The romance of Connor Wickham’s return after 683 days out with injury was anything but.
The striker being introduced prior to the continuation of play following Tosun’s finish.
Hodgson’s misgivings are well-documented, and there is value in the opinions of those who feel he is restrained by his options in respect of playing personnel, but equally he has managed at the top level of English football for some time.
Yes, Palace competed for 87 minutes here, yes Cheikhou Kouyate nodded against the crossbar, and yes Milivojevic missed a penalty but grinding out a 0-0 draw does not allow a whitewashing to suggest that this was by any means a good performance. Defensively it was competent but aided by poor final balls by the Toffees, but aside from that it was appalling. Except it was not even a goalless draw.
Football clubs are notoriously paranoid about tactics and line-ups leaking, but Hodgson may as well hand-deliver printed copies of a PowerPoint presentation to Marco Silva’s office. He is eminently predictable.
A failure to concentrate for 90 minutes is of real concern, but is equally borne out of a stubborn resistance to change. Hodgson’s conservatism is killing this side and it is devoid of ingenuity, of innovation. Zaha aside, the football doesn’t get more dull, and the results are just as gloomy.
Changes must rapidly be made by Hodgson, otherwise it could be time for those changes to be made by those above his head, and for him to depart the Palace hot seat. Football is an entirely unforgiving industry, and an increasingly impatient one. The 71-year-old need only speak to the man he replaced a little over a year ago if he was in any doubt about that.
PALACE 4-4-2: Hennessey 7, Wan-Bissaka 7, Tomkins 6, Sakho 5, Van Aanholt 6, McArthur 5 (Wickham 89), Milivojevic 3, Kouyate 5, Schlupp 4, Zaha 6, Townsend 5 Not used: Guaita, Kelly, Riedewald, Puncheon, Kaikai, Ayew