Yesterday, Fulham confirmed the appointment of Roy Hodgson as the permanent successor to Lawrie Sanchez at Craven Cottage.
There’s been a lot in the media over the past day or so about Fulham’s predicament and the gamble that they have taken. It seems that quite a few Fulham fans don’t know very much about Hodgson, despite him being proudly English, and having grown up in Croydon. Us Scandinavians have got to know and love Roy, so I thought I’d share some information in the spirit of helping the Fulham family get fully behind the new man in the dugout.
Hodgson was born on 9 August 1947 in Croydon. His mum was a local baker, whilst his father – a big Newcastle United fan – drove buses south of the river. Hodgson’s family lived in the same building as Steve Kember, who went to school with him at John Ruskin Grammar on Scarbrook Road. The pair played in the school’s football team alongside Lennie Lawrence and Bob Houghton, who you’ll hear a lot more about shortly, joined for sixth-form.
I hope I’m not being harsh in describing Hodgson as a mediocre defender who couldn’t break into the Crystal Palace first team. He played non-league football with Tonbridge, Gravesend and Northfleet, Maidstone United and South African side Berea Park. He took his first coaching badges at 23 and it was Maidstone who made him a player/assistant coach to Houghton. After a year, he moved to Ashford Town and worked as a PE teacher in south London. When he returned to the capital after his South African stint, Hodgson played at Carshalton Athletic whilst teaching at what was then Monk’s Hill.
Hodgson was something of a shock appointment by Swedish side Halmstad in 1976. Nobody in Sweden had the slightest idea who he was, but Houghton – then Malmö FF manager – proved pivotal in his hiring. It was a risk, as Halmstad had barely survived the drop the previous season, but Hodgson steered Halmstad to the title in his first full season – something he still considers to be his greatest achievement. He won the title again in 1979 and, alongside Houghton, is credited with introducing the English style to the Swedish game.
In 1980 Roy returned to England to take over as assistant manager to Bob Houghton at Bristol City. In 1982 Roy was appointed manager at Ashton Gate only to be sacked four months later. His departure followed a change in ownership and the new hierarchy demanded immediate results. Hodgson returned to Sweden to take charge of Örebro, and then Malmö, who won five consecutive championships and two Swedish Cups under his reign.
He left Sweden for Switzerland in 1990, taking over at Neuchatel Xamax. He qualified for the UEFA Cup at the end of his first season and missed out on the title by two points the following year. In Europe, Neuchatel beat Celtic 5-2 on aggregate and then stunned Real Madrid 1-0 at home in the third round first leg. Real overcame that shock with a 4-0 win at the Bernabeu, but his achievements saw him appointed as the new manager of the Swiss national side in January 1992.
Switzerland, who hadn’t qualified for a major tournament since 1966, surprised everyone by reaching USA ’94 losing only a single qualifying fixture in a group that also included Italy, Portugal and Scotland. They finished a point behind the Azzuri and rose to third in the world rankings. Hodgson’s side were drawn in a group with the hosts, Romania and Colombia. The Swiss drew their opening game with the Americans 1-1, hammered the highly-fancied Romanians 4-1 and progressed to the second round, where they beaten 3-0 by Spain – having thrown caution to the wind after going a goal behind.
Hodgson followed that success up by qualifying for Euro 96 in his homeland, losing just a single fixture. His achievements at international level saw him take over at Internationale and, after clinching a place at the finals, he resigned to concentrate on his new role in Italy full-time. He guided Inter to the 1997 UEFA Cup final, losing on penalties to Schalke, whereupon a section of the Inter fan base threw lighters and coins at Hodgson. Massimo Moratti tried to talk him into staying but Hodgson opted to join Blackburn Rovers after Sven-Goran Eriksson had backed out of a deal to take over at Ewood Park.
Hodgson guided Rovers into the UEFA Cup via a sixth-place finish, which was viewed as something of a disappointment as they had been outsiders in the title race for much of the campaign. His second season was a struggle and Hodgson was sacked in November 1998 with Rovers rock bottom of the table, having been heavily rumoured as a successor to German national coach Berti Vogts and Glenn Hoddle following the latter’s eventual sacking as England head coach.
Hodgson was passed over when the FA plucked Kevin Keegan from Craven Cottage to succeed Hoddle and was interviewed for the Austrian national job after losing out on the German role. He returned to Inter, acting as a technical director and briefly as a caretaker head coach, before guiding Grasshoppers to fourth in the league during a single season back in Switzerland. He was overlooked when the FA chose Eriksson to replace Keegan in 2000 and decamped to Denmark to coach FC Copenhagen. He won the title immediately, but opted to take over at Udinese before spending two years as the head coach of the United Arab Emirates.
Hodgson then took charge of Viking Stavanger in Norway, where he achieved a notable UEFA Cup success over Monaco, but lasted just seventeen months before being lured to the other side of the Baltic side to try and take Finland to Euro 2008. The Finns missed out on the final day of qualification after a frustrating goalless draw with Portugal. The Finnish FA sought to extend his contract, but Hodgson pined for day-to-day involvement with players. He was ready to become technical director at Inter until Fulham came calling.
Style of management:
Hodgson usually opts for a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1 system, with a more direct passing approach. When asked to describe his management style by the UEFA coaching newsletter, he replied:
-“It is not always easy to describe oneself, but I would like to think that my style could be considered as studied, player-orientated, and with an emphasis on preparation and tactics. Because you take on leadership responsibilities, inevitably you have to be somewhat authoritarian. The game of football doesn’t lend itself to true democracy. Certainly as I get older, I have become more aware that you can delegate certain things. For example, the players’ opinion can be useful when discussing training
times or deciding travel schedules, etc. Indeed, most things to do with the players’ preparation can be open for discussion. When it comes down to the major issues, for example, team selection, how you are going to conduct your training sessions, what you will emphasise, and how you will deal with any conflict situation which might arise, I don’t think there is any room for a democratic approach when dealing with these matters. Players expect you to take the lead, because that is what you are paid for. But I think it is good to involve them in things which make a big difference to their life but don’t compromise your position.”
Quotes about Roy Hodgson:
To say that Roy Hodgson has been around the block and has some experience would be a massive understatement. You can’t be in management for 30 years without knowing what your doing.
He has never enjoyed steady success, and perhaps worrying for Fulham fans due to his recent successful role with Finland, one good job is usually succeeded by an average one.
However, Hodgson is known for building teams that are hard to break down with a solid foundation and players playing at their maximum potential.
If anything is certain, Fulham could have done a lot, lot worse, and it will be certainly interesting to see how Hodgson performs in his 16th different managerial post. – Andy Glover, Liquid football.
Brilliant first 6 months at the club when he took a squad of players still smarting at the departure of Shearer and made them believe in themselves again, and we became one of the fittest teams in the prem. The demands of the Premiership took its toll and the last few months of the 97-98 season we were terrible and only a last minute free kick from Sutton got us scraping into Europe.
I liked the guy, and thought at the time he was harshly treated but when it comes to managing a club you have to stand up tall and take account of your mistakes. He lost the dressing room and didn’t spend the big money well at all.
I still think he’ll do OK at Fulham though. Without any big egos or expectations I think he’ll have them playing well as a unit and as he’s used to managing a team of underdogs (so to speak) it will suit his style. – DP, Blackburn Rovers Fan
Hopefully Roy will turn out to be a miracle worker, but only time will tell. I am however very pleased with this appointment and think that the club might have got it right this time. It was great nice to receive lots of phone calls from friends supporting other teams here in Sweden congratulating us on Hodgson getting the job. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he remains highly regarded here.
Welcome to Fulham Football Club, Roy. Make us proud!
Come on YOU WHITES!