Roy Hodgson insists his enthusiasm for football management remains undimmed as he prepares to lead boyhood club Crystal Palace into a new Premier League campaign.
The former England boss, who turned 76 earlier this week, will be at the helm for the Eagles’ opener away to Sheffield United on Saturday after agreeing to stay on in charge of the south London club.
He returned to Palace for a second spell in charge in March following the departure of Patrick Vieira and made such a success of the job that not only did the side avoid the drop, they did so without the stress of a prolonged relegation battle thanks to a mid-table finish.
Palace may have seen star player Wilfried Zaha make a pre-season move to Turkish giants Galatasaray but Hodgson told a pre-match press conference on Friday: “I wanted to carry on because the club asked me to carry on.”
The much-travelled manager, previously in charge of Switzerland and Finland, in addition to England, as well as numerous clubs including Inter Milan, Blackburn, Fulham, Liverpool and West Brom, added: “Basically, because I so much enjoyed last season working with the (Palace) team that I was able to work with for the last 10 games, the opportunity to carry on working with them was one that I certainly had no intention of resisting.
“The excitement, the build-up — after what seems like quite a long pre-season, especially these days with travelling – all of that really is for this moment, which is going to start for me at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.
“That’s what we’ve been working for and looking forward to. That’s the lifeblood of our jobs, so I have just as much excitement and just as much hope that things are going to go our way just as I did before my very first game, which was a very long time ago.”
While Palace have lost Zaha, they have also signed Jefferson Lerma following the end of the midfielder’s contract with Bournemouth.
“The fans will like him. He’s a good signing, there’s no doubt about that,” Hodgson said of the 28-year-old Colombia international.
“We were lucky to get him — his quality as a player, his experience, his character, the type of football he plays, his whole-hearted efforts which he has made for so many years now for Bournemouth.”
Hodgson, meanwhile, warned Palace supporters to expect a difficult match against the Blades, back in the Premier League after finishing second in the Championship last season.
“Sheffield United is a difficult place to go,” he said. “Like ourselves, they have a really good support — a support that gets behind the team. We expect to be put under pressure from both the players on the field and the fans behind them.
“These are things you have to learn to resist and find a way of resisting, and then hopefully we can play the football I’m hoping we’re going to be capable of playing this season.”
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