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Europa League Special: Roy Hodgson - much more than just manager of the year

Much has been said in recent weeks of the impact that a new manager can have on a side; how a squad of underachievers, or simply players of a ‘lower’ calibre, can be orchestrated into a powerful ensemble.

Harry Redknapp received rapturous praise after guiding Spurs to a top-four finish; and Jose Mourinho, for leading Inter to their first Champions League (formerly the European Cup) final for 38 years. All impressive feats, but compared to the miraculous fairytale that Roy Hodgson has written at Craven Cottage, they’re not quite in the same league, after taking Fulham from relegation certainties to their first ever European final.

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Having been awarded the LMA Manger of the Year Award on Tuesday night, and ahead of his Europa League showdown with Atletico Madrid, Goal.com UK looks back at the career that shaped Hodgson’s greatest achievement...
Roy Hodgson | Managerial Career

Halmstads
Bristol City
Orebro
Malmo FF
Neuchatel Xamax
Switzerland
Inter
Blackburn Rovers
Inter [caretaker manager]
Grasshoppers
F.C. Copenhagen
Udinese
United Arab Emirates
Viking FK
Finland
Fulham

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1990-1992
1992-1995
1995-1997
1997-1998
1999
1999-2000
200-2001
2001
2002-2004
2004-2005
2006-2007
2007-

In a career that has spanned the best part of 36 years, Hodgson has been somewhat of a managerial journeyman. In total, the 63-year-old has led 15 different sides, including two spells at the helm of the aforementioned Inter Milan.

His working life has seen him travel the globe, working in no fewer than seven different countries, including stints as the head coach of Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates, before finding himself walking the touchline at Craven Cottage.

Hodgson has admitted that he won’t enjoy Fulham’s Europa League final, despite the enormity of the occasion for the club itself, insisting that “the only enjoyment you can get is doing your job well – that means winning.”

Such words are a testament to his character. His experience in major competitions leaves him in good stead ahead of Wednesday’s clash in Hamburg, having led Switzerland in both the 1994 World Cup and the European Championships in 1996 – where he faced Terry Venables’ England.

As Inter boss, he led the Nerazzurri to the UEFA Cup final in 1997, eventually losing to Schalke on penalties in the second leg. Hodgson would then embark on his first stint in the Premier League; an up-and-down tenure at Blackburn Rovers which would leave the articulate tactician hungry to prove his worth.

He steered Rovers to a sixth-placed finish and UEFA Cup football in his first season, healing much of the supporters’ disappointments having dropped down the league which they had won in 1995. He received substantial financial backing from the late Jack Walker in the close season, but a poor start to his second campaign left Rovers at the foot of the table, and the horse bolted. Hodgson’s career in England came to an end.

That was until Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed came calling in Decemeber, 2007...


Craven Success | Roy making history at Cottage

Hodgson’s achievements at Craven Cottage have been nothing short of spectacular. Steering the Cottagers to Premier League safety on the final day of the season, after amassing 12 points from their last five games, Hodgson’s Fulham never looked back.

In his second season, he bolstered his squad, signing players like Middlesbrough 'keeper Mark Schwarzer on a free transfer, and the unheard-of Brede Hangeland from FC Copenhagen, acquisitions that have helped shape the club into the force they are now; taking them to the Europa League after an impressive seventh-placed finish.

But this season has surpassed all expectations. Despite one of the smallest squads in the league, Fulham finished comfortably in mid-table, an even more astonishing achievement when you consider that their Europa League exploits started in July [with a 3-0 victory away to FK Vetra].

In Europe, Fulham have toppled one of Italy’s most prestigious sides in Juventus, while eliminating UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg, who faced Manchester United in the Champions League earlier in the season.

Hodgson has transformed not only the current squad, but the entire history of the club with an almost Midas touch.

He needed battlers and survivors when he grasped the reins at Craven Cottage, and he helped his players become those necessities. His demanded consistency and work rate in his second season, and he got that. And finally, in a campaign which saw the club embark on the European stage, he needed top class performances, and he managed that as well.

The pinnacle being the transformation of Bobby Zamora, a striker once ridiculed by fans across the country, including his own. Fulham’s No.25 has become a prolific performer both at home and abroad, with a goals return of 19 in 47 matches this season, plus five assists.

Whatever the result come full-time in Hamburg on Wednesday, Hodgson’s name will be sung from the stands by Fulham’s travelling support. Nonetheless, the character of the man is such that he will not acknowledge his achievements unless he sees his players lift the trophy.

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