The oldest manager in Premier League history has stepped down. With Roy Hodgson out and Oliver Glasner in at Crystal Palace, we take a look at the likely reasons behind both decisions.

Crystal Palace confirmed on Monday that Roy Hodgson had stepped down as manager.

The 76-year-old said in a statement: “I understand, given recent circumstances, it may be prudent at this time for the club to plan ahead, and therefore I have taken the decision to step aside so that the club can bring forward their plans for a new manager, as intended for this summer.”

He has been replaced by Oliver Glasner. The Austrian coach has signed a deal until the end of the 2025-26 season, and will start by trying to help the south London side pull away from the Premier League relegation zone.

But how did we get here? After all, it started so well.

When Hodgson came back to Crystal Palace to replace Patrick Vieira in March 2023, the air of sentiment was coupled with exciting and effective football, to the relative surprise of many.

Palace had gone 13 games without a win in all competitions prior to Hodgson’s return (D5 L8), and then won each of his first three games back. They lost just two of their last 10 games of the 2022-23 campaign with the familiar face in the dugout (W5 D3).

Hodgson’s first spell at Palace saw him steer the club clear of relegation after the infamous reign of Frank De Boer in 2017-18, before he retired in 2021. But having already gone back on that decision when he took the job at Watford in January 2022, the lure of returning to Selhurst Park was too great.

It seemed the decision was paying off. Palace scored 18 goals in those 10 games towards the end of the 2022-23 season to finish in 11th place, ahead of Chelsea. It resulted in Hodgson being given an additional one-year contract.

This season began well enough too, with three wins and a draw from their first five Premier League games (L1). However, since a 1-0 victory at Manchester United in late September, they have won just three of their last 19 games in all competitions (D5 L11).

The tide was noticeably turning in the 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal last month when the away fans held up a banner criticising the direction of the club. Despite a spirited 3-2 win at home to bottom side Sheffield United, further ire was directed at Hodgson and chairman Steve Parish during the subsequent 4-1 loss at rivals Brighton.

A 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea last Monday saw Palace throw away a point in stoppage time when an attack from the visitors wasn’t dealt with, allowing former Palace loanee Conor Gallagher to score his second goal of the night. The sloppy nature of it, and Enzo Fernández adding a third, somewhat typified the club’s current malaise.

As you can see from the below non-penalty rolling expected goals (xG) graphic covering Hodgson’s two reigns and Vieira’s in between, a promising start in terms of the difference between xG for and against turned at the start of this season, and the trend of Hodgson’s first spell suggested it was only likely to get worse.

xG performance Crystal Palace

Losing Wilfried Zaha at the end of last season without adequately replacing him has clearly had an impact, while injuries also haven’t helped. Not having Cheick Doucouré in their midfield since late November due to an Achilles rupture, for example, has been a huge miss. Only Declan Rice (63) made more interceptions than the Mali international (56) in the Premier League last season.

The significant time missed by star players Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise has undoubtedly been the biggest problem, though. The recent 3-2 win over Sheffield United was proof of that, with Eze scoring twice while Olise set up both of his goals and also scored one of his own. The duo have scored 11 of Palace’s 27 league goals this season (Olise 6, Eze 5) despite both missing significant periods, with Odsonne Édouard (6) the only other Palace player to score more than three.

Eze has featured in just 16 of Palace’s 24 league games this season (13 starts) while Olise has appeared in only 11 (8 starts). Two of the team’s six Premier League victories this season have come in the four games both Eze and Olise have started together, with Palace averaging 1.5 points-per-game from those four (W2 L2), and just 0.9 PPG from the other 20 (W4 D6 L10). Both are now out injured again, as is key defender Marc Guéhi.

Hodgson was taken ill on Thursday amid rumours of his imminent departure from Selhurst Park. Thankfully, the club confirmed he was stable and undergoing tests, adding on Monday that he is “now out of hospital and doing well.”

Despite the difficult circumstances, the decision for Hodgson to step down was confirmed on Monday. The 76-year-old is the oldest manager in Premier League history by almost five years, a record that seems unlikely to be broken any time soon, unless Hodgson comes back again in future.

Glasner is the surprise replacement. The Austrian would not have been at the forefront of most people’s thoughts to become the next Crystal Palace boss, but on the face of things, it is an interesting appointment.

So, what could he bring to Selhurst Park?

The 49-year-old was assistant to Roger Schmidt at Red Bull Salzburg before taking the head coach role at SV Reid, where he had spent his entire playing career. Then, four good years at LASK between 2015 and 2019 saw him guide the Austrian Bundesliga side to second place in his final season, which was their best finish in over 50 years. That convinced German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg to take a punt on him, and it paid off when a respectable seventh-place finish in 2019-20 was followed by an even more impressive fourth place and UEFA Champions League qualification the next season.

Glasner was hired by Eintracht Frankfurt for the 2021-22 campaign but could only guide them to 11th place in the Bundesliga. That was more than made up for when he took them to the UEFA Europa League final, beating Rangers on penalties to win only the club’s second European trophy ever, following the UEFA Cup in 1979-80. Glasner became one of only two Austrian coaches to have won a major European trophy alongside Ernst Happel, who won the European Cup with both Feyenoord and Hamburg.

Their run to the final had seen them eliminate Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham as they went through the whole Europa League season undefeated (W7 D6) – something no other German team has achieved before or since.

It looked like there were the foundations for a special team to grow further in 2022-23, as Eintracht qualified for the Champions League group stage for the first time in their history. They took to it well, reaching the last 16 after finishing second in Group D behind Tottenham and ahead of Sporting CP and Marseille. On top of that, at the halfway point of the Bundesliga season they sat in fourth place.

However, they lost in the round of 16 of the Champions League to eventual Serie A winners Napoli 5-0 on aggregate, while they ultimately finished seventh in the Bundesliga. Between mid-February and early May 2023 they went 10 games without a win in the league (D5 L5), and it was announced at the end of that run that Glasner would be leaving the club at the conclusion of the season. They did reach the DFB-Pokal final but lost 2-0 to RB Leipzig.

Only the top three of Bayern Munich (92), Borussia Dortmund (83) and RB Leipzig (64) scored more Bundesliga goals than Eintracht (58) in 2022-23, which should be seen as a big positive considering scoring goals has been particularly tricky for Palace this season. Only the current bottom three of Everton (26), Burnley (25) and Sheffield United (22) have scored fewer than their 27 goals in the Premier League.

Glasner is still fondly remembered for his time in Frankfurt, largely due to their European adventures. However, it must be noted that his points average in the Bundesliga was only 1.35 across his 68 games. Those of his predecessor Adi Hütter (1.56 in 102 games) and his successor Dino Toppmöller (1.50 in 22 games) are both higher.

As for his style, Glasner generally prefers a 3-4-2-1 formation. Below is his team for the Europa League final against Rangers in 2022, fairly typical of his desired setup.

Eintracht team vs Rangers

It will be interesting to see if he continues with it initially at Palace given their regular full-backs of Joel Ward and Tyrick Mitchell aren’t exactly your prototypical wing-backs. New signing Daniel Muñoz is also more of a right-back who can play centre-back rather than a winger type.

That said, were they both to regain fitness at the same time, you could see Eze and Olise potentially working well as the two behind the striker, while new arrival Adam Wharton would seemingly be ideal in one of the two deeper central midfield spots alongside Jefferson Lerma or Will Hughes (or Doucouré when he returns).

As you can see from the team style comparisons below, Glasner’s Eintracht side of 2022-23 were slightly faster in their attacking speed than Crystal Palace have been this season. They also made marginally more passes per sequence, but it doesn’t look like the difference is such that Palace players will need to drastically adapt.

Bundesliga team style graphic (Eintracht)
PL team style graphic (Palace)

The same goes for high turnovers (regains within 40m of the opposition’s goalline). Eintracht averaged 8.4 high turnovers per game in the Bundesliga in 2022-23, with 33 ending in a shot and six ending in a goal, while Palace have averaged 7.8 high turnovers per game in the Premier League this season, but already have 35 shot-ending and five goal-ending in 10 fewer games. If Glasner can increase the average volume while maintaining the efficiency of them, it could be a useful weapon for Palace.

Eintract high turnovers for 22-23
C Palace high turnovers for 23-24

The Premier League side might have to get used to seeing more of the ball. Glasner’s Eintracht averaged 481.4 passes and 52.6% possession per game in the Bundesliga in his final season there, while Palace have only averaged 395.1 passes and 41.2% possession per game in England’s top flight this season.

Paddy McCarthy and Ray Lewington will take charge of the team for Palace’s trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on Monday. Coming up against Sean Dyche away from home on a Monday night in February could have been quite the introduction to the Premier League for Glasner if things had moved faster.

Then again, this is a man who masterminded a 3-2 win over Barcelona in the Camp Nou less than two years ago. The Austrian will back himself to turn around the fortunes of his new team over the next weeks and months, starting with a winnable looking home game against Burnley on Saturday.

As for Hodgson, will this be the last we see of him in football? He’ll be 77 years old by the start of next season, but when it comes to the former Halmstad, Bristol City, Oddevold, Örebro, Malmö, Neuchâtel Xamax, Switzerland, Inter, Blackburn, Grasshoppers, Copenhagen, Udinese, UAE, Viking, Finland, Fulham, Liverpool, West Brom, England, Watford and Crystal Palace manager… never say never.

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