Hodgson set to be unveiled as Liverpool manager?
Early reports are today suggesting that the Fulham manager, Roy Hodgson, is set to take over at Premiership rivals Liverpool.
By Thom Alexander.
Early reports are today suggesting that the Fulham manager, Roy Hodgson, is set to take over at Premiership rivals Liverpool. News broke late last night that Hodgson would be unveiled as the successor to Rafa Benitez at Anfield, with the experienced Englishman set to be officially announced when his punditry duties with the BBC end.
Hodgson has had a long and successful career in management, and has transformed Fulham from relegation certainties to last season’s Europa League runners up. This has been a feature of Hodgson’s history, as he first took on a managerial position in Sweden and guided unfancied Halmstads from the lower echelons of the Swedish league to two time title winners. A brief period in charge of Bristol City was followed by a stint at Orebro. From there he took the job at FC Malmo and led the side to five consecutive Swedish titles between 1985-90, as well as making progress in Europe.
After leaving the club at which he had become a legend, Hodgson moved to Switzerland, taking Neuchatel Xanax to second place in the Swiss Super League and again making an impression on European football, defeating Celtic 5-2 on aggregate and winning 1-0 at home against Real Madrid. His success there prompted the Swiss FA to appoint him manager of the national team, which he led to the 1994 World Cup at the expense of Portugal and ahead of Italy. Hodgson repeated the trick again in 1996, taking the Swiss to Euro 96 in his homeland and 3rd in the FIFA World Rankings.
The lure of club football prompted Hodgson to move to Inter Milan in 1995. After a season of ship-steadying, Inter finished 3rd in the league and narrowly lost in the UEFA Cup final. The English manager had revolutionised the squad, by bringing in Youri Djorkaeff, Aron Winter and Ivan Zamorano.
A spell in charge at Blackburn was a mixed blessing. Despite a strong first year in charge that saw Blackburn finish 6th, Hodgson was sacked in his second season with the club adrift at the bottom of the table. After a brief return to Inter Milan in 1999, he returned to Switzerland to take over at Grasshoppers Zurich. In 2000/01, he led FC Copenhagen to the Danish Superliga title, before returning to Italy for ill fated spells with Udinese and the UAE national team.
A return to Scandinavian football suited Hodgson, and he moved to Norwegian strugglers Viking Stavanger. Again he proved a success, and took the club to the Group stages of the UEFA Cup in 05/06, defeating Austria Vienna and Monaco along the way. When he was offered the Finnish national job, he completed the set of Scandinavian countries. A solid Euro 2008 campaign saw Finland narrowly missing out to Portugal and Poland by just three points, and despite offers of a renewed contract, Hodgson again decided to move on.
His appointment as Fulham manager in 2007 was a massive gamble for both parties. For Hodgson, the chance to redeem his reputation in his homeland was too great to turn down, while Fulham were in desperate need of a motivator. His tenure started poorly, but an unbelievable run of results at the tail end of the season – including a 3-2 win over Man City when 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go – ensured Fulham’s late survival. Following a clear out, Hodgson strengthened the side by signing Brende Hangeland and Mark Schwarzer, and getting the best out of Clint Dempsey and a rejuvinated Danny Murphy. Fulham went on to qualify for the Europa League, which they took by storm last season, with the elimination of Juventus at Craven Cottage a particular highlight.
Hodgson’s career has been marked by exceptional man management, tactical nous, a keen eye in the transfer market and a pressing, high tempo style of play. He will have to call on all of his experience to mould a fairly aimless Liverpool side into a potential title winner and juggle the potential pressures from board room level. However, he has proved himself an intelligent, dignified manager in the past, and could well be the man to restore Liverpool to the upper regions of the Premiership.
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