Roy Hodgson has 'sympathy' for Rafa Benitez - but backs him to turn things around at Newcastle

Roy Hodgson has sympathy for Rafa Benitez
Roy Hodgson has sympathy for Rafa Benitez

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has admitted that he can empathise with Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.

After a harsh summer in the transfer window, in which he wasn't fully backed by the club's hierarchy, Benitez is still chasing a first win of the new Premier League season after a testing opening to the season.

The Spaniard will be keen to seal a first triumph when he takes his side to Selhurst Park tomorrow afternoon - with the Eagles yet to win on home soil this season.

And Benitez's counterpart in the Palace dugout has praised his impact and believes he will turn things around as the season progresses.

Having faced Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal during the early weeks of the season, it's been something of a slow start for the Magpies who currently have just a single point to their name.

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But Hodgson feels there is no need for Newcastle to panic as of yet with plenty of games remaining, and has backed them to pick up points in the near future.

"Of course you have empathy for all colleagues in a difficult position, but it is so early in the season, and I don’t see any reason for panic," he said, speaking at his pre-match press conference.

"Their programme of fixtures has been harsh and there is a long way to go. I am sure they are not overly concerned about it and that they will pick up points as they go on.

"I think they know what they are good at and know how to win games, because they finished 10th last season.

"They have had difficult games and I am pretty certain that they realise they are not in an ideal situation, but that they believe they are good enough to get away from the relegation zone."

While Newcastle's start has been far from spectacular, Hodgson is firm in his belief that Benitez will be able to turn the side around.

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And while the Magpies boss has come in for some criticism for his tactics in recent weeks, the Crystal Palace boss has brushed off any suggestions of negativity and knows that the ex-Liverpool boss is just doing what is best for his side.

"Benitez does his best to get the best out of his team to get results, and I have a lot of empathy with that," he added.

"I understand that debates go on, and more and more people talk and read about football these days.

"They happen, but I am pragmatic and I work hard to prepare Crystal Palace for games to get the best out of the players, and I am sure that Benitez does the same.

"I certainly respect him and I would like to think my teams are similar."