Man Utd V West Brom at Old Trafford : Match Preview
10 March 2012 02:31
Fergie rates Hodgson despite Liverpool failure
Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow one bad spell at Liverpool to cloud his judgement of Roy Hodgson.
Appointed as Liverpool manager in the summer of 2010 as Rafael Benitez's replacement, Hodgson presided over a disastrous six-month period in the Merseyside giants' history.
In the end he was turfed out to make way for the return of Kenny Dalglish.
Hodgson was not out of the game for long though.
It was to the Londoner that West Brom turned to drag them out of the relegation mire, a task he completed with something to spare.
And when Hodgson brings his team to Manchester United on Sunday, he will do so on the back of a victory over Chelsea that proved to be one defeat too many for Andre Villas-Boas.
"Roy couldn't win at Anfield," said Ferguson.
"Sometimes the timing is bad for certain jobs and that was bad timing for him.
"But you cannot dispute his credibility, his ability and the career he has had."
In fact, meetings with West Brom lately should come with a warning sign attached.
Mick McCarthy was dumped by Wolves after they were battered by their Black Country rivals.
Ferguson has none of those concerns. However, he has taken enough notice of recent results to be very wary of a side who were the only ones to get away from Old Trafford with any Barclays Premier League points last term.
"West Brom are in a bit of good form just now," said the Scot.
"They've won their last three, scored five against Wolves and beat Chelsea last weekend.
"We respect that. Roy Hodgson always has his teams well organised and it will be the same this time.
"But we are at home and we expect to win our home games."
Most United fans would expect their team to win the next eight matches given they are against teams who either are or have recently been in the bottom half of the table.
Given Blackburn won at Old Trafford on New Year's Eve, nothing can be taken for granted.
However, after his own side continued their own impressive sequence of results by beating Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend, Ferguson will be stressing how important it is to keep up the pressure on leaders Manchester City.
"The players know the challenge they face," he said.
"After the result last week against Spurs, this is an opportunity to kick on."
Chris Smalling will almost certainly be ruled out after the head wound he suffered on England duty opened up again.
Rio Ferdinand would have returned anyway to bring some experience to a defence that was badly exposed by Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night.
Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick should earn recalls in central midfield too which will strengthen United still further, whilst Danny Welbeck is set to get the opportunity to build on a superb campaign.
Meanwhile, Baggies boss Hodgson believes his team can become established in the Premier League in the same way as Stoke and Fulham without having to spend vast amounts of money.
Hodgson feels Albion have started to "come of age" as a top-flight club as a result of their shock win over Chelsea last weekend, and they will aim to cause another upset against United.
But he is also guarding against complacency after a third successive victory moved West Brom 13 points clear of the relegation zone as they look to secure Premier League football for third straight season.
Hodgson said: "I think the way the club is run is very good. There is a lot for this club to be proud of.
"Having a common-sense approach, and knowing where you are as a club, and what is realistic for you to achieve within your budget, that is commendable.
"We see so many examples of teams that try very hard to go beyond what is reasonable and achievable for them and it has ended in enormous tears.
"It is not going to end in tears at this club because financially we are well run and very viable as well.
"Can we become the next Stoke or Fulham? I think we can do that within the remit that we've been working on anyway.
"It doesn't necessarily mean this club would do that much better if someone was to suddenly put #200million in the kitty. It is not as simple as that."
Defender Steven Reid will be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign with his ankle injury, while winger Jerome Thomas is also ruled out.
Skipper Chris Brunt is in contention to start for the first time in two months after recovering from his broken foot.