Roy Hodgson says Jose Mourinho’s assessment that Crystal Palace play without any real pressure is a “bit strong” but understands the argument being made by the Tottenham manager.
The experienced duo will meet in north London this weekend and Spurs will view the Premier League fixture as a must-win in their pursuit of a top-four spot.
With Palace in 13th and boasting a healthy points cushion above the relegation zone, the need for a positive result is less pressing than that of their London opponents, who are eighth.
It led to Mourinho saying this week: “I always feel these type of teams with real quality, but without any real pressure to do better than have a stable season, they just go and play. If they win, great. If they lose, they don’t feel any pressure from the media or fans.”
But Hodgson countered: “I think no pressure is a bit strong because every team in the Premier League must accept and even embrace some pressure.
“That’s what we want to be in the Premier League for: the attention, the criticism that comes or that praise that sometimes comes your way.”
He continued: “I would absolutely refute we are fortunate enough to have no pressure and no scrutiny from the mass media because that definitely isn’t true.
“I am not prepared either to say he is totally wrong in the sense that I accept the pressure he maybe feels at Tottenham is greater than the pressure we sometimes feel here but you put pressure on yourself anyway.
“It might be very well from the outside to say it’s OK for Palace to happily go and lose and no one will say anything, but that’s not the case as far as we are concerned.”
The Eagles’ last defeat occurred at home to Burnley on February 13 and the south Londoners have since put together a three-match unbeaten run.
Back-to-back clean sheets earned points against Fulham and Manchester United while a dogged defensive display last month was key to a 2-1 win at rivals Brighton.
After losing heavily to Liverpool (7-0) and Manchester City (4-0) in December and January respectively, Palace have looked back to their old selves in recent matches.
“Defending isn’t a question of how good your goalkeeper or centre-back is, it is really a question of how good your two front players are doing in the first instance to protect the midfield, who then protect the back four who protect the goalkeeper,” Hodgson explained.
“The training ground has been useful, especially the week before Brighton. We really hammered home then what we think we are good at or what we have been good at and what we must cling onto at all costs.
“To lose it would cost us dearly especially in that period of time when some of the more attacking players, and the players you could rely on to get you out of trouble by doing something particular good and getting a goal, we didn’t have those players available.”
Nine-goal attacker Wilfried Zaha will return this weekend after a month out with a hamstring injury.
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