London (AFP) – Watford were relegated from the Premier League after just one season back in the top-flight as Wilfried Zaha’s penalty earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 win on Saturday.
A sixth consecutive defeat left the Hornets still 12 points adrift of safety with just three matches to play.
Roy Hodgson was welcomed back to Selhurst Park a hero for his four years in charge of Palace, but the former England manager’s record of never suffering relegation has ended with his final job before retiring at the end of the season.
Hodgson was unable to rescue Watford after replacing the sacked Claudio Ranieri in January to become the club’s third manager this term following Xisco’s dismissal in October.
He arrived with Watford two points from safety but has managed only two wins in his 15 games.
Watford’s owners the Pozzo family have a long history of churning through managers in ruthless fashion, but they have overseen two promotions to the Premier League during their reign and the club should be among the favourites in the second tier next term.
There were few highlights for Watford in a campaign that always looked destined to end with relegation, although they did thrash Manchester United 4-1 in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s final match in charge of the Red Devils in November.
“I think after missing our chances in those last three home games we realised we were making life extremely hard for ourselves,” Hodgson said.
“But anyone who’d like to say there was an inevitability about our outcome and that the players had resigned themselves to the fact that they’re going to go down then they haven’t watched today’s game.
“It gave no indication of that whatsoever and we were fighting right until the last minute to try to get an equaliser.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted but I think we were rather hard done by because the players are convinced that Hassane Kamara was pushed in the back and that’s what provoked the penalty decision.”
Hodgson admitted Watford’s confidence had plummeted during their slide towards relegation, but he believes they can bounce back.
“There are individuals in the team who can make a difference,” he said.
“Their confidence might not be at the highest but I still think this team and this club has a lot to offer in the Premier League, but they’ll first have to go through the Championship to get back.”
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