Roy Hodgson relishing locking horns with fellow veteran boss Marcelo Bielsa
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is looking forward to facing Marcelo Bielsa for the first time on Saturday and has hailed the decision by Leeds to appoint him as inspired.
Both have coached across the globe over the last 40 years, with spells in several European leagues and on the international scene, but have never gone toe-to-toe on the touchline.
That will change at Selhurst Park this weekend in a battle of the oldest managers in the division, who have guided their clubs to 10 points from seven games respectively.
After bringing Leeds back to the top-flight for the first time since 2004, Bielsa has quickly made his mark in the Premier League and impressed the Eagles boss.
Hodgson said: “Marcelo is a man who has had a lot of success since he came to Leeds.
“I think it was an inspired decision to take him on as manager because first he got them back in the Premier League, something so many have tried and not been able to do.
“Now he has started extremely well in the Premier League and his team have played some outstandingly good games.
“I have never met him unfortunately, but of course I have always known about him and I look forward to meeting him tomorrow.
“He is a person who I very much respect and I have been impressed by the type of football Leeds are playing.”
Palace remain without seven players with Wayne Hennessey, Nathan Ferguson and Connor Wickham long-term absentees while Joel Ward, James Tomkins, Tyrick Mitchell and Luka Milivojevic are unavailable.
Gary Cahill was not part of the matchday squad at Wolves last Friday despite recovering from the shin injury he suffered in last month’s draw with Brighton.
If he does return on Saturday, he will be part of a back four eager to keep Patrick Bamford quiet with the Leeds forward scoring six league goals already this season.
He failed to find the net in a loan spell at Selhurst Park back in 2015, but has been transformed under Bielsa at Elland Road.
“I can’t make comparisons with how he is now and how he was at Crystal Palace, I wasn’t at Crystal Palace,” Hodgson said of Bamford’s disappointing nine-match spell in south London.
“What I can say is his performances for Leeds in helping them achieve promotion and the way he has started this season with not only goals, his ability to lead the line and his work-rate, I am full of admiration for what he has done.
“I am very sure everyone at Leeds is full of admiration for what he has done and it is our job to keep him quiet but we know it won’t be easy because of the qualities he possesses.”
Like Leeds, Ebere Eze made the step up from the Sky Bet Championship to the Premier League this summer, but has had to bide his time at SE25 after his switch from QPR.
The England Under-21 international has largely been restricted to cameo roles off the bench and yet his attitude has impressed his 73-year-old boss.
Hodgson added: “Once again it is competition. Jeff Schlupp isn’t anything other than a very good attacking left midfield player, so I have had to make choices there and not been able to fit them both in together, especially with the form Andros Townsend has been in on the other side.
“It is nothing more complicated than that, but again, like Jairo (Riedewald), Ebere has done ever so well in training and impressed everyone.
“Not only with his ability, but his attitude and professionalism, so I am sure his chance will come very, very soon.”