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Roy Hodgson: If West Brom go down the plughole, so will his reputation

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11 Feb 2011 14:42:38

Roy Hodgson: If West Brom go down the plughole, so will his reputation

It's only been a month since his split from Liverpool but Roy Hodgson is back in the Premier League after West Brom handed him the task of keeping keeping them up. Despite enduring an awful six months at Anfield, it seems his stock has not fallen outside of Merseyside. The Baggies were very keen to make the world aware they have appointed the 'Manager of the Year'. But is he the right man to save them from an instant return to the Championship? Hodgson has certainly faced tougher tasks: one of them attempting to keep Fulham up in 2008, having only been appointed at Christmas with the Cottagers in the bottom three. Brighter moment: Roy Hodgson walks out at Anfield after his Liverpool unveiling And it wasn't a dream start. It took until February for Hodgson to record his first win and he only won once more as Fulham stared relegation in the face with five games to go. But in an astonishing boost in form, he led his side to four wins in those final five matches to keep them up by the skin of their teeth on goal difference. It was no fluke. The incredible escape act was underpinned by an stunning comeback at Manchester City, where they scored three times in the last 20 minutes. Diomansy Kamara memorably found the back of the net twice, including the winner in injury time. With the team starting to click under Hodgson at last, it took him just a year to transform the club from relegation favourites into European contenders. Following a run to the Europa League final last season (that produced yet more heroic comebacks) he become hot property in the top flight and was appointed by Liverpool to replace Rafael Benitez last summer. But the move turned sour quickly, with the challenge of turning the Reds back into a Champions League club just too much for the former Inter Milan boss. At Fulham he found success in the transfer market with bargain buys such as Brede Hangeland, Chris Smalling and David Stockdale. But at Anfield, Hodgson's quest for world-class players was seriously flawed with Raul Meireles his only notable success among summer signings that included Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanovic and Paul Konchesky. Smiles better: Hodgson lines up before Fulham's Europa League final defeat He possesses a knack to purchase players that can play a well-disciplined organised game, but gets frantically lost when trying to find a match-winning playmaker. As such, he turned Liverpool into a very ordinary side. Another problem for Hodgson was his slow start - and following a humiliating home defeat to Northampton in the Carling Cup, he was already feeling the wrath of the Reds fans. He struggled to get anything near the best out of star players Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Cole, and was accused of playing his only transfer success (Meireles) out of position in a short reign that brought very few highs and plenty of lows. Hodgson's achilles heel is away games, something he even struggled with at Fulham where he only won once on the road in his final season. A similar pattern emerged at Liverpool where he also won only once away and another limp performance in a 3-1 defeat at Blackburn last month ultimately led to his Anfield departure. It's not just Liverpool where Hodgson saw an empire crumble around him. Rovers fans had seen it all before themselves and remember how just four years after winning the Premier League title in 1995, they were surprisingly relegated with Hodgson playing a big role. Not much to shout about: Hodgson is his days with Blackburn Rovers Again a string of bad buys and poor tactics led to Hodgson's dismissal early in the season. Although replacement Brian Kidd hardly did any better, Hodgson would not be trusted in the Premier League for another nine years. Judging by his first few months at Fulham and Liverpool, Hodgson is not one to hit the ground running and relies on being given time to get used to his squad. But his transformation of the west London club showed that with patience and that crucial time he does possess the skill needed to turn a team's fortunes around. So with just four months of the season left and games running out fast, he can ill afford the starts he has previously made but with very few options elsewhere, Hodgson may be the Baggies' only hope. As well as West Brom's Premier League status, his pride is also at stake and no doubt he has already circled April 2 on his calendar - the day Liverpool travel to the Hawthorns. Just last year he was being touted as a replacement for Fabio Capello in the England set-up, but now faces the last roll of the dice to prove himself in England's top flight. If West Brom go down the plughole, Hodgson's reputation will follow.  Roy's back! West Brom unveil Hodgson just a month after his split from Liverpool Hodgson is the top target for West Bromwich after axe falls on Di Matteo Watch all the Premier League goals every week on our brilliant video player  Explore more:People: Brede Hangeland, Rafael Benitez, Brian Kidd, Fabio Capello, Paul Konchesky, Joe Cole, Roy Hodgson, Christian Poulsen, Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard Places: Fulham, Liverpool, United Kingdom


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