By Rachel Steinberg, PA
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has vowed to eliminate confusion by banning the word “retirement” from any conversations about his “totally open” next steps.
The 75-year-old came back for a second spell at Selhurst Park in March with a mission to secure the south London side another season in the Premier League – a task he accomplished more swiftly than perhaps even the most optimistic supporters would have imagined.
Hodgson has largely evaded any enquiries about whether he wants stay longer term, but was more adamant about what he does not wish to happen once his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.
He said: “One thing I’m not going to do is this: I’m not going to mention the word ‘retire’. I don’t think I did the first time, I tried not to, but of course it became assumed that when I left Crystal Palace and didn’t look for another job I was retiring.
“But I’m certainly not going to make that mistake again, because then when I went back to Watford suddenly the talk is, ‘he’s come out of retirement to do this’.
“So I do that and then that finishes and well, of course, now he’s in retirement for good. And then I come out of retirement retirement.
“I don’t want to come out of retirement retirement retirement, I should leave the options totally open and who knows what will happen. I am enjoying life at the moment. All the time I feel capable of working. I will consider offers that come my way.
“But I don’t have an agent actively seeking work for me, so people have to find me because I’m not actively canvassing them.”
Palace, who are now mathematically safe, have an outside chance of finishing ahead of 11th-placed Chelsea – who are just two points clear but have played one game fewer than the Eagles – at the end of the campaign.
Asked what it might mean to leapfrog the Blues, Hodgson was blunt, replying: “Let’s be honest. It’s a freak season for Chelsea. That’s not their position in the table. They are a team that competes for Champions League and European football.
“Not this season. Luckily they haven’t had the dire drop that has happened in the past, like Leeds not that long ago where after winning the first division they then get relegated.
“It hasn’t got quite as bad as that, but we at the club I think certainly, anyway, don’t see it in that way. We sympathise with their situation, we certainly sympathise with Frank (Lampard), but for us it wouldn’t be a question or major aim of, ‘let’s get in front of Chelsea’.
“If we do it would just be one of those things in this one particular season. It would be very different if you could tell me that in a period of time we will consistently finish above Chelsea and consistently be where are each year competing for Europe – then that would be different altogether.
“But on this one particular occasion, it would be nice I guess.”