Crystal Palace are like a boxer being beaten by superior fighters, manager Roy Hodgson said after his side were outclassed 4-0 by Manchester United on Saturday to extend their run to seven successive defeats without scoring.
Hodgson took over at Selhurst Park following the sacking of Frank de Boer earlier this month and, after losing 1-0 against Southampton, has seen his side concede nine goals in successive 5-0 and 4-0 defeats against Manchester City and United.
Palace are now only the second Premier League side in history to lose their opening seven games — after Portsmouth in 2009-10 — and the first in 129 years of the Football League to do so without scoring a single goal.
“We’re like a boxer being knocked down by superior fighters,” former England manager Hodgson told the BBC.
“But we’re trying to stay in there, we’re not giving up and we’re not surrendering. And that will stand us in good stead when we start to piece everything together. But we’re very wounded at the moment.”
Palace are without regular attackers Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha and at Old Trafford were forced to deploy first winger Bakary Sako and then his replacement, the inexperienced debutant Freddie Ladapo, as their forward.
They mustered just six shots all game, only one of which was on target, and rarely looked like breaking their drought.
“When you’re bottom of the table and you’ve got six regular first team players out, especially given our lack of forward players, it was always going to be very difficult for us,” Hodgson continued. “I honestly believe though that we’re making some sort of progress. But of course, we’re being tested out against the best in the land and with the quality these teams have they don’t miss their goal chances.
“It might sound really stupid when you’ve conceded nine goals and taken zero points but the message we’re putting across is being grasped by the players.”
After the international break, Palace host champions Chelsea, who will be keen to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat against table-topping City
“We have to show character, bite the bullet and hold our hands up because today, although we worked hard, I can’t stand here and say that we deserved to win the game because we didn’t.
“I hope that my enjoyment, enthusiasm and passion for the game will spread over to the players.”