Roy Hodgson is wary of the threat posed by Manchester City to Crystal Palace but he is also convinced English football has seen teams of their quality before.
Premier League leaders City visit Palace on Sunday hoping to secure a 19th consecutive league victory and equal the record set by Bayern Munich when Pep Guardiola was the Germans’ manager.
The Spaniard’s present team has been so ruthless and so entertaining that only halfway through the season they are being described as England’s finest ever, even when competition for that status is so intense.
In only the modern era, Sir Alex Ferguson’s treble-winning Manchester United of 1999, Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” of 2004 and Jose Mourinho’s dominant Chelsea of the following season attracted similar praise and attention. The experienced Hodgson continued to monitor English football while working overseas, and believes the credentials of those teams should not be overlooked.
“We have seen it in England before, there’s no question of that,” said the Palace manager, 70. “Wonderful Arsenal teams, wonderful Manchester United teams, very strong Chelsea teams that have dominated the league, and we’re seeing a very strong Manchester City.
“Like those previous good teams, managed by Arsene, by Alex Ferguson, Chelsea managed by Jose Mourinho, the managers of those teams don’t seem to want to let up in any way, have that desire to take their foot off the pedal and cruise, roll downhill to a victory. They always seem very, very determined that they won’t spare anybody.
“I wasn’t actually in the country when Arsene and Arsenal did it: their 49 games unbeaten and their 38-game league season unbeaten. I know that team: watched the players in that team, but I wasn’t in the country when it happened.”
Palace on Thursday lost 3-2 at home to Arsenal, when Yohan Cabaye was substituted after receiving a knock that means he remains a doubt for Sunday’s fixture.
Two days after hosting City they then visit Southampton, and the manager said: “We have loads (of niggles).
“We’re going to be feeling an element of fatigue that’s not helped by the fact we’re facing Southampton one day after. We’ve been unluckily drawn to play Sunday-Tuesday. We don’t have the depth that some teams have: two games in two days is going to stretch us.”