Roy Hodgson denies he has had any thoughts about retirement even though his future with Crystal Palace remains unclear.
The 73-year-old is out of contract this summer and has constantly dodged questions about his future during recent months. His focus instead is on a strong finish to the current campaign. Aston Villa travel to Selhurst Park on Sunday before Arsenal visit Palace on Wednesday. There could be 6,500 Eagles supporters in the stadium for the midweek fixture which could act as a farewell on home turf for the boyhood fan.
But Hodgson insisted: “I haven’t thought about retirement as yet. There will come a time, I’m certain, in my life when I will talk about retirement, but I am not talking about it at the moment.
“I haven’t read the reports to be perfectly honest. I have said all along there will be a time for an announcement as to what my future is going to be.
“When I am ready I will make that announcement, but I haven’t seen the reports or speculation. I guess it has been going on for some while now since I have been answering this sort of question for the last two-and-a-half months. So I presume there has been stuff written. It’s just I don’t read it.”
A 3-1 loss at Southampton on Tuesday halted Palace’s brief momentum after they ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory at Sheffield United last weekend.
The triumph in Yorkshire officially guaranteed survival, but the Eagles boss pointed towards their mixed results as a reason to put speculation over his situation on the back burner.
“When the time comes for me to speak openly about this subject, I will,” Hodgson added.
“This isn’t the moment, because it is a press conference to preview our match against Aston Villa, which I think is an important match for us. We won against Sheffield United, we had lost three before that and lost again at Southampton. So we are not on a great run of form in terms of taking points.
“We have another opportunity on Sunday to take points and I want the full focus to be on that. When the time comes to speak openly about what my future will look like, I will do so.”
Palace seeking to solve Benteke future too
Hodgson’s contract situation is one of many for sporting director Dougie Freedman to resolve. Several players are also about to become free agents in the summer.
Ex-Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke is among them and, after scoring four goals in his last eight appearances, the Belgian is in a strong position to negotiate new terms.
The 30-year-old also has interest from a number of clubs across Europe and is weighing up his options but remains focused on a strong finish to the season, the PA news agency understands.
“I think the matter is in hand. Obviously if you are a player whose contract is running out and you’re in good form, suddenly the chips fall in your favour,” Hodgson said.
“At the moment he is in a good position, but I am pretty sure the club know what he can do and know his qualities. I have seen him for four years, the club have seen him for five, so in actual fact his longevity at the club is well documented.
“I also know (chairman) Steve Parish and Doug Freedman are in contact with the agents of all of these players whose contracts are running out, but I can’t give any direct update on where it stands and whether Christian Benteke is anxious to leave or anxious to stay.”