Roy Hodgson’s tenure at Crystal Palace appeared to be his last outing as a first team coach. At 74 years of age, it seemed unlikely that Hodgson would look for new challenges, instead settling with the comfort of having achieved so much over his career.
But alas, Watford’s managerial merry-go-round turns once again, appointing Roy as the club’s third manager in 6 months. A side struggling to find consistency and defensive robustness. Turning to a man with incomparable experience of club football appears to be Watford’s next approach.
At the young age of 29, Roy took his first steps into management, taking charge of Swedish side, Halmstads BK. It quickly became clear that he had a knack for coaching, transforming the previous relegation battlers to league champions, his self-declared greatest achievement.
Becoming an instant legend of Swedish football, Roy stuck around, successfully managing a number of sides in the country’s top division. This included 5 consecutive league titles with Malmo FF.
He is credited with modernising Swedish soccer by introducing zonal marking and maintaining a high defensive line.
After stints in Switzerland, Hodgson got his first top European job, a rebuild at Internazionale. Inter had hit a low in previous season’s, compounded by a 13th place finish in 1993-94. Within two seasons, Roy had got the side up to third in Serie A, but without the star powers of other European giants, Hodgson was replaced by Luigi Simoni.
Despite resurrecting a flailing Inter side, introducing Zanetti, Djorkaeff and Ince, and guiding the club to a UEFA Cup Final, Hodgson felt he could not win over the hostile fans, and it was time to move on.
It would take over 10 years before Hodgson could prove himself on the European stage once again. But this time with an unexpected twist, Fulham.
Roy settled at Craven Cottage in December 2007, the side were struggling, sitting 18th in the Premier League. After a flurry of wins towards the end of the season, Hodgson had helped the club survive a very difficult period.
In following seasons, he would bring in a range of talented players, including Mark Schwarzer, Zoltán Gera, Chris Smalling, Zamora and Damien Duff. This side blended experienced winners with exciting young talent, earning them a place in the 2009-10 Europa League.
Fulham’s run in the Europa League would be a highlight in the club’s history. They would go on to beat Basel, Shakhtar Donetsk, Wolfsburg and Juventus. The win against the Italian giants becoming even more impressive as they turned around a 4-1 deficit in the second leg, Clint Dempsey scoring the late winner.
Although they would go on to lose the final to Atletico Madrid in extra time, Hodson’s achievement at Fulham could not be ignored.
Roy’s Reputation Ruined
After his incredible success, clubs were desperate for Hodgson to lead their sides, Liverpool coming out on top.
But his tenure began poorly and never fully recovered. After beating club legend, Kenny Dalglish, to the job, the pressure was multiplied, and Roy struggled with this.
Fans would never get on his side as the team hit turbulent times.
Taking the reins of Rafa Benitez’ successful Liverpool side meant that changes were needed without disrupting what Benitez had built. Hodgson was unable to do this, losing the faith of big personalities in the dressing room. By the following January he left his position.
After a successful period at West Bromwich Albion, Hodgson had got back to what he did best, and the England job had come calling.
A role that any Englishman would want, but equally one that comes with immense pressure and scrutiny. It is never simple being the England manager.
But again, Hodgson was unable to bring success to the England setup. Despite working with England’s “Golden Generation”, the injury-hit squad lost out to Italy in the quarter finals of Euro 2012. But this England side would only reach further lows.
As the wealth of established English talent started to phase out of the side, making way for more inexperienced young talent. England could not settle and were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup in the group stages, winning only 1 point against Cost Rica.
By Euro 2016, England were a mess, playing dull soccer and scraping results against below average sides. They managed to crawl their way out of the group stages before crashing out against tournament newcomers, Iceland, in the round of 16. There was no way that Hodgson could justify his position and shortly resigned.
With his reputation in tatters, it was time for Hodgson to figure out where to go next, whether there would be such great opportunities ever again.
Return of Roy
In 2017, Hodgson joined Crystal Palace, his boyhood club. After losing their first 7 games, Roy managed to achieve 11th place with the club, a Premier League record after such a poor start.
This began a good partnership between Hodgson and Palace, he equalled their best ever Premier League points tally, steadying a side that would regularly bounce back and forth between the Premier League and the Championship. He also become the oldest man to manage in the Premier League during this time.
By the end of the 2020-21 season, Hodgson had felt his time in management should come to an end, although not officially saying he would not return, it seemed unlikely.
But in the last week, Watford have come calling and Roy obliged. Replacing management veteran, Claudio Ranieri, Hodgson faces another difficult challenge in his career. But one that he has overcome before.
Although it could be argued that management needs fresh ideas and new approaches, sometimes experience is needed to grind out results. And if not Big Sam Allardyce, who better to pull a side from woeful results than Hodgson.
Watford may be too quick to react, but they will be hoping they are getting the Hodgson of old, who could turn a club’s fortunes around and help them turn results into glorious silverware.
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