SEVEN games played, seven defeats, zero goals — Palace were simply destined for the drop. The mixed reaction to Frank de Boer’s replacement certainly didn’t make life easier for Roy Hodgson as he faced one of the biggest challenges of his 40-year coaching career in trying to keep the Eagles in the most lucrative league in the world.
Fast-forward a mere 30 matches and it was mission accomplished with a game to spare. The manager of the season nomination for Hodgson is not one which many had envisaged when he was appointed but would be fully deserved should he win the award.
West Bromwich Albion had their own managerial award-winner in Darren Moore to thank for their valiant attempt to escape relegation over the past month. Moore’s efforts were in vain, but one can only imagine if he had been put in post earlier how their season could have ended up.
Taking all of this into account, it was to be expected that the final game of the season for these two clubs had a friendly feel about it as both sides had already confirmed their respective league status.
After 45 minutes of football to forget from both teams, the second period saw the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend miss good opportunities to put the game past the Baggies.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek did his reputation no harm as he continues to try to stake his claim to be selected for Gareth Southgate’s 23-man party heading to Russia in less than a month’s time.
The Chelsea loanee has had a breakthrough season at Selhurst Park and Hodgson’s persistence in playing him on the left-hand side, alongside Patrick van Aanholt and Zaha, has caused many problems for opponents this season and West Brom were no different.
This was displayed in the first goal, as he drove from midfield before finding van Aanholt on the overlap who squared for Zaha to finish coolly past Ben Foster.
Van Aanholt then capped a wonderful end to the season by rounding Foster in the final stages to seal a 2-0 win and give Palace fans renewed hope that their horror start of this season will not be repeated in the next one.
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