You can’t move for the praise for Roy Hodgson in today’s papers.
I’m a little wary of attaching too much weight to a column written by Piers Morgan, who currently earns his living predominantly by being a judge on a woeful talent show and has a history of horrible misrepresentation. Mind you, he’s got some nice things to say about our manager:
AS Sir Alex ‘I hate arrogance’ Ferguson, Rafa ‘I’m the beezykneezy’ Benitez and ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce (why’s he called that, incidentally? I saw him at a friend’s wedding recently and he’s positively svelte-like) all throw their toys out of their prams, my mind drifted to an altogether more civilised Premier League managerial creature.
A man who is, truly, the great unsung hero of this season. For what Roy Hodgson (right) has done at Fulham has been nothing short of sensational. He took over just 18 months ago when the club were bottom of the League and heading for ruinous relegation.
Today they are eighth and even have a possibility of attaining a place in European competition next year. Hodgson has not had a big budget to spend, although nobody could accuse owner Mohamed Al Fayed of being a pennypincher, given the tens of millions he has lavished on Fulham since he bought the club.
But Hodgson has outsmarted teams who have spent substantially more, bought cleverly – Zamora, Johnson and Schwarzer have all excelled – and coped astonishingly well with losing his brilliant talisman, Jimmy Bullard.
And his side have played with a style, guts and resilience that so-called ‘bigger clubs’ would die for. Finding a manager who can do all this is not easy, as Roman Abramovich has shown by frittering away his roubles on a procession of high-profile flops.
Roy Hodgson, a quiet, modest man prone to old-fashioned manners and common courtesy, doesn’t dominate headlines with egocentric outbursts. He lets his players do the talking. And boy, are they talking.
There are a few things might choose to disagree with in there. Morgan would be hard pushed to find anyone else who’d think that Bobby Zamora’s excelled this season. I see the Times rather ludicrously gave him a mark of seven for his efforts on Saturday, which does make me wonder whether they’d actually watched the game. And how a serially injured midfielder could be our talisman when we’ve arguably played better without him is also open for debate.
Morgan is right about Andy Burnham, though. The Culture Secretary carried himself with great dignity in the face of justified protests from the Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough memorial last week. It was a very powerful couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, Paddy Barclay offers the kind of compliment that will probably rub a few Fulham fans up the wrong way. Hodgson’s done a great job in a short period of time at Fulham, but there’s no way he’s taken us as far as he can. And, if – for argument’s sake, – he did want to leave, why on earth would he join Newcastle or Sunderland? Those two sides could well be heading to the very dvision we looked destined for when he took over.