ROY Hodgson has cautioned supporters questioning Crystal Palace’s aspiration levels by pointing out they don’t want to end up like Charlton.
The Eagles have established themselves in the Premier League over the past decade, despite being odds on favourites to go straight back down after winning promotion in 2013.
Hodgson is currently in his second spell in charge of the club he grew up supporting as a boy, having returned to SE25 in March following four years at the helm between 2017 and 2021.
Last season the aim was simply to stave off relegation, something he achieved quite comfortably in the end in what was a rare flirtation with the drop from the Eagles.
Asked what should be a realistic expectation from the Palace fanbase moving forward, Hodgson explained different generations would probably provide very different answers.
The Selhurst chief said: “Fans will always like to see their team top of the league, of course they would, but fans are a very varied bunch as well.
“I always feel when I’m at press conferences and the word ‘fans’ has come up, I’m thinking what ones are we talking about?
“Are we talking about some of those I meet around my age quite often who say ‘I’ve been a Palace supporter for 50 years and I still love coming to Selhurst Park’.
“I don’t know what aspirations they have.
“They are probably very happy at the moment because for the last 10 years they’ve been watching their team play in the Premier League, as opposed to when I was a boy watching them play in the Fourth Division. That’s one hell of a jump.
“At one stage, of the 92 league clubs we were probably about 86th or 87th if we were lucky.
“Now we are one of the top 20 teams in the country and have been for the last 10 years. But aspirations have always got to be high, hopes have got to be high and the club has got to consistently work to get better and be better.
“But I’ve seen this team improve over the last six years. I think we are a stronger team now than when I came here in 2017. I think we have recruited some very good players.
“The club will try to recruit more and if we can keep this squad of players together, then who knows how high we can finish.”
Hodgson then gave the example of Alan Curbishley, who ended a 15-year spell at Charlton in 2006 having established Palace’s neighbours in the top flight.
A handful of vocal disgruntled Addicks fans did take to the airwaves before his exit to bemoan the fact Curbs wasn’t able to take the club to the next level and deliver European football.
The majority of Charlton supporters, however, would counter this suggestion by pointing out it was only a very tiny minority airing such views at the time.
But regardless, it has almost been accepted by the wider football world as fact there was a general sense of weariness with Curbishley at The Valley by the time he left.
And Hodgson raised it once again to point out some Palace fans currently questioning their club’s ambition should perhaps be careful what they wish for.
He said: “The only reason I temper it is because I’m tired of hearing people talk about moving to the next level.
“Because for me, moving to the next level reminds me of Charlton Football Club whenever I hear we need to move – ‘Curbishley’s got to go because we are only seventh or eighth in the league so we’ve got to get rid of Curbishley’, ‘We’ve had four years of this now and we are still only number eight, we need to move on to the next level’.
“I’m always very wary that for Charlton fans, all those fans who were speaking out, they should be very ashamed of themselves in a way because they didn’t realise how good it was when Curbishley was there and they were in those lofty positions in the Premier League.”
Hodgson added: “How do I see where the club should be?
“I think the club should continue working in the way it is working and has been working for the last few years, and in particular the way it has been working in the last couple of years when money was made available and very good players were bought into the club.
“An ageing team was rejuvenated, so there is a lot more younger players now.
“So I think the club’s philosophy is the right one and I think it is a philosophy which most fans would agree with.
“I think most fans would probably say that these players we’ve bought in now are top Premiership quality and if we can keep them – we’ve just spoke about keeping four of them signing new contracts – I would see that as a very positive step.”