On September 12th, Roy Hodgson took over a Crystal Palace side that had lost its first four matches, hadn’t scored a single goal and was planted firmly at the bottom of the Premier League table.
On March 1st, Roy Hodgon was named Manager of the Year at the London Football awards. His name is being floated as a candidate for Premier League Manager of the Year. He’s pulled Palace up to eleventh place and safety. At 70 years of age, he’s having a career comeback of sorts.
A Chelsea loan player has been at the center of it.
When healthy, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been a nailed-on starter for Hodgson, playing just about anywhere in midfield but ever-instrumental in stitching the play together back to front and chipping in with 2 goals and 5 assists in 24 appearances (21 starts).
He’s become so important for Palace that Roy Hodgson believes it will cost Palace dearly to replace him.
“Absolutely, you don’t replace the quality of players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek very easily. We have to be realistic and unless some sort of deal can be struck with Chelsea that means he can stay here, we will have to accept that.”
“He will be a very difficult player to replace, because of his quality. I don’t think we can really do anything yet because it totally depends on Chelsea’s plans. Until we know what Chelsea’s plans are, we can’t have any plans.”
The history of Chelsea loans usually makes for difficult reading. Playing time, progress and a path back to Stamford Bridge are often hard to find.
But this season feels a bit more promising than most. Loftus-Cheek has stood out in England. In the Netherlands, Marco van Ginkel and Mason Mount are stars for PSV and Vitesse, respectively. Michy Batshuayi conquered the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund before being felled by a broken ankle. And Tammy Abraham is Swansea’s second-leading scorer with eight goals, and could’ve gotten more if he had a better supporting cast.
Loftus-Cheek is among the most likely to be actually playing for the Blues next season. His first campaign as a full-time player has tested him physically — 16 games missed to injury — but allowed him to develop stamina and football intelligence. No wonder Hodgson wants him back.
“All we can do is monitor the situation and were he to become available, either to buy or on a further loan, I would be hoping we would not only be throwing our hat in the ring, we would be doing everything we possibly could to get our name out there. He has enjoyed being here and we have enjoyed having him.”
“Chelsea will say it was a good move to loan him to Crystal Palace because he has had a good season and has gone to not only being a regular Premier League team member, to being a player who has got a place in the England team. That’s a pretty good development for a youngish player.”
It certainly is, and we owe thanks to Hodgson for putting such faith in a young and unproven player arriving on loan. Now, we wait and see what comes next.
Same as Roy.
“If anything materialises and there are suggestions that Chelsea are not going to use him and that he will be either loaned out again or sold, [chairman] Steve Parish and the owners will be throwing our hat into the ring and saying we want him.”
“But Chelsea have given us no signs about whether they are interested in either selling him or loaning him out so we will have to wait and see.”
-Roy Hodgson; source: Daily Mail
Odds are that Palace will be in the market for a midfielder this summer. Hodgson and Loftus-Cheek did their jobs well, so well that they’re probably going to be split up.