Hodgson Admits European Fears
Roy Hodgson has already admitted Fulham would face a major struggle if they qualified for next season's new Europa League. The Cottagers are well placed to finish in the all-important seventh slot following Sunday's win at Manchester City. Fulham trail London rivals West Ham by a single point with six games to go, knowing Manchester United's Carling Cup triumph and the make-up of this weekend's FA Cup semi-finals ensures seventh place will be enough. It would be the first time Fulham have made it into Europe since 2002, when they did so through the now disbanded Intertoto Cup. But, after a season in which both Tottenham and Aston Villa made earlier than expected exits after fielding below-strength sides in the knock-out rounds, Hodgson brought a sobering air of reality to next term as well. "It would be hard for us," said the Fulham chief. "Yesterday Robinho and Elano were rested by Manchester City and Martin Petrov came into the team. "We do not have that depth. I have 20 players I consider to be Premier League class and could play happily in the team. "But that is not very many and some of those are younger players who are untried and have not played many games. "If we were to compete in Europe we would have to look carefully at our squad and ask whether we could handle the number of games we are likely to be playing if we had the ambition to go as far in the competition as Manchester City have done this season. "There are four or five teams who could find themselves in seventh spot but, apart from Tottenham, I don't think any of them think it is theirs," observed Hodgson. "They will just be happy that they are in a comfortable position in the middle of the table. "If we get it we will do our best but it is not something that is going to keep me awake at night." Hodgson is not the type to offer a quick sound bite but in the modern era, his thoughtful, considered approach is perfect for Fulham. He does not have the longevity of Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or David Moyes, yet his work at the Cottage has still been hugely impressive. Certainly the difference from 12 months ago, when it seemed defeat at City would send his club down, only for a miraculous recovery from two goals adrift to trigger a sensational escape, is marked. "There was plenty of fortune involved last season," he recalled. "As a team near the bottom, to achieve what we did was pretty much an impossible task. But we did it. "The important thing was not to get carried away. "I just wanted a season where relegation was not a talking point, with people constantly saying Fulham might go down."
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