Patrick Vieira has said he hopes Selhurst Park gives Roy Hodgson a special welcome when he returns to the ground on Saturday with Watford.
The 74-year-old was Crystal Palace ’s manager for four years until he left last summer, with Vieira replacing him and enjoying a positive first season in charge in SE25. The Frenchman built on the foundations Hodgson left behind, guiding his side to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and within touching distance of a top-half league finish with four games left to play.
Hodgson arrives in south London on Saturday – his first return to Selhurst Park since leaving – knowing anything other than a victory will send the Hornets back down to the Championship next season. But despite that fact, Vieira said he was expecting the Palace faithful to show the veteran manager the respect he deserves when he comes out onto the pitch.
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“I don’t have any doubt about the way our fans will welcome him back,” Vieira told reporters on Friday. “He gave a lot to this football club and I think the fans will be, like always with him. It’ll be nice to see him back as I believe the last four years he spent at this club he built the foundation that allowed me to work with the players today. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
Speaking on Watford’s unlikely survival hopes, he added: ” Mathematically still anything can happen so while there is hope I expect them to be fighting. We expect them to work hard. When you get to this position players are playing for their careers and some are playing to have different opportunities at the end of the season. There won’t be a lot of space for us to express ourselves.”
Hodgson was equally as respectful when asked in his pre-match press conference how he thought Vieira had done at Palace since taking over as manager. The Frenchman has quickly become a fan-favourite in south London and has had the backing of Hodgson since his appointment last summer.
“He’s done excellently well, I think I’ve been saying that from the offset,” said the former England boss. “Everyone obviously recognises that it wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to come into a club, which has, you know, had a degree of stability, but of course, needed an injection of new players, and then to get that injection, to get the new players, to have the opportunity really to build on what Ray [Lewington] and I were trying to do there. It sounds easy. It sounds like a comfortable task, but it isn’t. It has to be done. And I think he’s done it exceptionally well.
“And Crystal Palace, I always thought, during my four years, they were a good team. And I think now they’re possibly even better with the quality of players they’ve bought in. And as a result, they’ve got the success which I think they are due. And Patrick has been a big, big part of that success. And I congratulate him wholeheartedly. I shall look forward to seeing him tomorrow.”
Source by Football London