Chris Baird remains grateful to Roy Hodgson for reviving his Fulham career but insists that his focus is firmly on picking up the club’s first league win of the season against West Brom tomorrow.
The Northern Ireland defender endured a troubling start at Craven Cottage and looked set to be jettisoned after Paul Stalteri came in on loan to shore up Fulham’s leaky defence but Hodgson eventually restored Baird to his starting line-up with great success. Baird became a regular in the side, even demonstrating his prowess in central midfield during the club’s run to the Europa League final in 2010. He is full of admiration for his former manager.
I was in the team and played 52 games under him. He gave me my opportunity in the team and I’m thankful for that. You can speak to him about anything – about football or off-the-pitch stuff. He’s such a nice man. I think my career developed under him.
In a way he transformed it by giving me the run of games that I needed and I was grateful to him for playing me in all these positions – right back, centre half and midfield. I was just happy to be part of his team and his plans.
But Fulham travel to the Hawthorns tomorrow knowing that Hodgson’s side will be a tough proposition, even if they are currently lying bottom of the table.
I think he will be hard to beat, that’s one thing you can say for sure. He worked wonders here, but we’ll be going there to get the three points off him, that’s the most important thing for Fulham
Baird, who was outstanding in the holding role as Fulham came so close to upsetting Chelsea in the Carling Cup in midweek, is confident that the first league win will come if the Whites continue where their left off against their local rivals and Manchester City
I think if we show the quality we did against Man City, we’ll be more than happy. We need to climb that table quicker rather than later.
It’s not really been a big issue [looking for a first win]. Obviously, it’s a little bit frustrating, but to come back from 2-0 down against that lot [Man City], with the quality they’ve got, it’s a massive achievement. I know and the players know that if we stick together and play like that, then we’ll be more than fine.