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    Joe Jones: How unlikely heroes Roy Hodgson and Carlos Carvalhal galvanised Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace and Swansea City

    The Premier League relegation survival battle this season is not so much a race as a Royal Rumble. Literally half the league is scrapping for their top-flight status, with 11th-placed Watford (on 27 points) just three points above 19th-placed Huddersfield, while Bournemouth and Everton, ninth and tenth respectively, are just four points above the Hornets.

    At the start of the season it looked like Crystal Palace were set to do a Derby County in meekly surrendering their top flight status, but they're now 14th, while a month ago, it looked like Swansea City had fallen into disarray, but they're still very much alive in 17th place.

    When Frank de Boer was unceremoniously sacked so early in the season, the choice of Roy Hodgson as the new Palace manager was met with groans. Likewise when Carlos Carvalhal, who had failed with a team in the division below, was announced as the new Swans boss, it was seen as a dreadful call.

    But rather than wilting away and dying, both teams have experienced an upturn in form and have claimed some great results along the way.

    Palace were goalless and pointless when Hodgson came along, with the players having failed to adapt to the change in style ushered in by De Boer - not to mention the lack of communication - as they were still used to the Sam Allardyce school of play.

    Hodgson was a more reassuring, "old-school" type of manager, whose training sessions are very hands-on, focusing on repeated drills and a meticulous, disciplined approach but at the same time keeping things relatively simple. The players know where they stand and what to do, and given the upturn in form, it's working wonders.

    And despite the ridicule that Hodgson has received at the helm of Liverpool and England, he retains a sense of self-belief and confidence in his abilities, similar to Allardyce in fact, but like Big Sam is also not adverse to make use of flair players like Wilfried Zaha, while his man-management - witness Bakary Sako's superb adaptation from forward to winger - has also reaped dividends.

    As for Carvalhal, whose appointment at the Liberty raised eyebrows given he was sacked by Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, he has turned a side which was also en route to relegation into an outfit which looks like it belongs in the top flight.

    The Portuguese is known as being a fan of attacking football but he has built from the back, instilling defensive foundations as a platform upon which to build. Indeed, Swansea have seemed more confident off the ball, keeping their shape but pressing aggressively against opponents.

    Mike van der Hoorn has been given a new lease of life, drafted in as a third centre-half and putting impressive performances, while the full-backs have been urged further and further up the pitch to great effect.

    Other notable differences include the upturn in form for both Sam Clucas and Jordan Ayew, and the amount of men which Carvalhal commits into the opposition box - all these aspects have given the Swans a fighting chance of survival.

    However, both sides will be pressing on without key players - Palace have lost Sako for the remainder of the season, while Swansea will be without Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony.

    But given how Hodgson and Carvalhal have already upset the odds as "bad" appointments in failing teams, there is much cause for optimism going forward despite these injuries, and when it comes to the home straight, I believe both sides will get over the line and end the season as Premier League clubs.

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    Roy Hodgson does well with smaller teams, Liverpool wasn't the best choice for either parties but he did alright at Fulham. He's also done better with small national teams, it's good to see him back in management and enjoying it.

    He'd never drop lower than the Premier League though.

    And good luck to Swansea.

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