Roy Hodgson’s relief at Fulham’s final day escape act was tangible – but he showed empathy with Alex McLeish and Steve Coppell as the Birmingham and Reading bosses contemplated life in the Championship.

“I know exactly how Alex McLeish and Steve Coppell are feeling. I am good friends with both of them and I feel sorry for them because going down is a horrible feeling. In all the jubilation, I must say we were not that far away from it being us and not them.

“But it feels great, it was obviously going to be a very difficult game to win for us. Portsmouth gave their all and we knew it was going to be a tough task.

“You always dream you are going to go in and start winning matches straight away and by a couple of months down the road you’d be in the top half of the table. But I think if I am realistic I understood what a difficult task I took on.

“The players, quite simply – since we have decided on our best team – have been magnificent. You read headlines that we were dead people walking and waiting for the season to end. But we have done much better than that and done it by playing well and working hard. I don’t think anyone can say we didn’t deserve it.”