On his feet for the entire 96 minutes, Hodgson may lack the “Duracell Bunny” stamina of Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola in the technical area but there was still a telling, if under-stated, double fist bump as the final whistle sounded.
“What drives me on at the moment is working with such a good group of players and a good football club in the very best league in Europe,” explained Hodgson.
“One could turn the question around and ask what is there not to be motivated by or what is there not to be enthusiastic about when you find yourself in the position I now find myself in?
“That is the only simple answer I can give. There’s certainly no Machiavellian thoughts involved. It is just a question that I do enjoy working at Crystal Palace, I do enjoy working with these players and I do enjoy working with the staff around me and all of those things make for a pleasant life, especially when you are winning.”
The former England manager, of course, cancelled retirement to save Palace from relegation in the final 10 games of last season and has remained at the helm during a testing summer which has seen talismanic winger Wilfried Zaha leave the club, and Michael Olise possibly following him.
Part of Palace’s problems have involved goalkeeper Vicente Guaita who, Hodgson claimed, refused to play for the club in pre-season but who appeared to tweet out his displeasure at being left out of the squad half an hour before kick-off.
“Where is my name, so how can I play for Palace,” he tweeted. Predictably, Guaita’s decision to escalate the dispute was met with a phlegmatic response from his manager.
“I didn’t know that happened — I’m glad we got through today, our keeper was largely untroubled,” said Hodgson. “That type of thing would be something that he and the club would have to sort out. For me that doesn’t have any effect.”
What might have effected Hodgson was the absence of the injured Olise, in addition to Zaha having departed. Instead, it was another flair player Eberechi Eze who dominated proceedings although the winning goal, on 49 minutes, came from a Jordan Ayew cross which was turned in from close range by Odsonne Edouard.