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Roy Hodgson regrets relegation but not accepting Watford job

Roy Hodgson saw Watford lose 1-0 at old club Crystal Palace to have their relegation confirmed (Yui Mok/PA)
Roy Hodgson saw Watford lose 1-0 at old club Crystal Palace to have their relegation confirmed (Yui Mok/PA)

Roy Hodgson insisted he had no regrets about taking the Watford job after relegation was confirmed following a 1-0 defeat at old club Crystal Palace.

Wilfried Zaha’s 31st-minute penalty consigned the Hornets to a 25th Premier League loss of the campaign, which sealed their fate but the writing had been on the wall after last weekend’s 2-1 reverse at home to Burnley.

The 74-year-old came out of retirement in January to try and keep Watford in the division but was only able to secure two wins and this is the first time he has ever been relegated from the Premier League.

“No, none at all,” Hodgson insisted when asked if he regretted taking the job.

“I have never sat and given a press conference in charge of a (top flight) team that has been relegated. It is a first for me and it is a first I wasn’t looking forward to claiming.

“I haven’t felt good all week and the only thing that has cheered me up is the fact the players today showed a lot of character and gave a good performance.”

During a distinguished managerial career that started in 1976, Hodgson’s only previous taste of relegation was from his short spell in charge of Bristol City 40 years ago.

It was an afternoon of mixed emotions for the veteran boss, who was serenaded on multiple occasions by the Selhurst Park crowd after they were unable to give their ex-manager a proper send-off last May due to Covid-19 restrictions.

He added: “I’m feeling different to how I felt last Saturday when we lost two late goals against Burnley and that left us 12 points plus goal difference behind not only one team but three teams and I felt pretty bad then because it was obvious we were relegated.

“Today I have a lot of good feelings, really. Firstly from the reception, from a personal point of view, that was fantastic and great to go out in front of that incredible Palace crowd again and get that reception again. That was obviously something that was very touching, but on a secondary note I was also very proud of the team’s performance.”

While Hodgson received plenty of adulation from the home fans for his four-year stint in charge of Palace, he did not walk over to the Watford supporters at full time on the far side of the pitch.

Quizzed if he regretted that, he admitted: “They were a bit too far away, normally I acknowledge the Watford fans but they were unfortunately at the far corner and I was being dragged if you like towards the tunnel by one or two of the Palace players I know.

“I suppose in hindsight you are probably right, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The Watford fans have been very good, I’ve got to say. I was very impressed with them today and I was very impressed with them last week because they are also not stupid people.

“They realised it would be curtains for us and still they cheered us on and even had some gallows humour.”

Victory for Palace moved them into the top half of the table and five points off equalling their best ever points total in the Premier League of 49 points.

But Patrick Vieira said of his predecessor: “It is always difficult for a manager to get relegated but I think it was a really difficult task when he arrived in the middle of the season.

“I think when you are looking at the career he has had as a manager, he is an example for a lot of coaches.”

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