West Brom manager Roy Hodgson says he cannot assure his new club will remain in the English Premier League next season.
Former Inter Milan manager Hodgson, 63, was unveiled at The Hawthorns on Monday, just two days after he watched his new side collapse from the stands, throwing away a 3-0 lead at home to fellow strugglers West Ham.
West Brom were perhaps lucky to get a point in the entertaining 3-3 draw and the performance will hardly fill Hodgson – who replaced Roberto Di Matteo on Friday – with confidence.
When quizzed if West Brom could avoid the drop, Hodgson refused to assure the club’s fans he would keep them in the Premier League.
“I’m afraid after 90 minutes working with them on Monday and 90 minutes watching them on Saturday, I can’t answer that question,” Hodgson said.
“I would like to say so, but it would be foolish of me to make rash statements.”
Hodgson won the job ahead of Chris Hughton just over a month after he was sacked from English giants Liverpool, and the manager admitted he did not envisage a return to the Premier League so quickly.
But the strength of the presentation from club technical director Dan Ashworth and chairman Jeremy Peace swayed Hodgson to take on the challenge to keep the Baggies up.
“I wasn’t actually planning to come back to the Premier League and keep working so soon after leaving my last job at Liverpool, but Dan and Jeremy Peace were very persuasive in the picture they painted of the football club,” he said.
Upon receiving the job, Hodgson said he had one aim only: to keep West Brom safe of the relegation zone.
“We don’t have much time, like a lot of other clubs. We’re in a desperately difficult situation at the bottom of the league, trying to retain our status,” he said.
“That is the major goal and ambition, and if we achieve that we want to build a strong platform for next season.”
“The Premier League these days is a tough league, a very interesting league for any club that’s in it, whether you’re punting for a place in the top four or a club that would be very happy just to still be in it.”
Caretaker manager Michael Appleton, also the club’s first-team coach, took charge of duties on Saturday. But Hodgson will step into the role when West Brom host Wolves on Saturday, a fixture which is not only a relegation six-pointer but also the only Premier League match of the day with several clubs still involved in the FA Cup.