Roy Hodgson has been a much travelled manager in his time, meaning he must have picked up a lot of skills and knowledge. He can look at his current post at Fulham and be proud of his achievements, and the desire to want more from a club that looks well equipped to compete now, and in the future.
Fulham supporters have every right to feel optimistic, especially due to the fact that the club is playing European football this season. They will be hoping for the same next season. Considering they finished in an impressive seventh place last term, the question of second season syndrome was put to them. That has been answered with another campaign that has shown a lot promise, whilst Hodgson is bringing the best out of players that were under-achieving before. The key has been putting a team together that has a mixture of unheard of players or players who looked to be stalling with their careers.
Players such as Mark Schwarzer, Brede Hangeland and Erik Nevland have been successful signings, although the player that has really shone is Bobby Zamora. Going shopping for bargains from abroad shows the understanding the manager has. Hodgson has shown that he can get the best out of a player who has always looked like he is ready to deliver. Zamora must be one of the leading candidates to be named as Fulham’s player of the season. He has been on a great goal-scoring run, and has caught the attention of England manager Fabio Capello.
The intention of spending and the financial resources available to Fulham will be looked at if Hodgson is to make the squad stronger. When the owner happens to be Mohamed al Fayed then there must be a temptation to try and buy your way to glory. The squad does not have a Wayne Rooney or a Cesc Fabregas but their core players like Damien Duff, Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora, Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland are playing at a level that is sufficient enough. As good as those players are will Fulham be able to attract a Champions League player? You get the feeling that finishing between seventh and tenth position is well within the club’s grasp, but Hodgson may have the ambition of ending further up the table should the next couple of seasons see a real progression.
Rather than give false hopes and expectations to fans, Hodgson continues to reiterate that the priority is the Premier League, even with the excitement of the Europa League and the fact that they are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. This probably comes from the fact that they survived relegation in the most amazing circumstances two seasons ago. Fulham used to talk about becoming the Manchester United of the south, but the strategy has been changed to a more realistic one. Along with that they have also altered away from developing the picturesque Craven Cottage stadium which sits on the banks of the Thames.
All in all, Hodgson’s years abroad seem to have made him appreciate the demands of English football. He has shown that to the Fulham faithful because his team always tries to play the game with style. The fans may be worried that all the good work will come to an end, judging by Hodgson’s timeline for staying at one club, but it seems that at his age, 62, he will not be using Fulham as a stepping stone for pastures new. The chance to cement himself as one of the club’s great managers is there for him.