Following a brief and unsuccessful spell with Liverpool, Roy Hodgson’s main focus now is bouncing back with The Baggies.
The managerial merry go-round spun once again this week with Roberto Di Matteo the unlucky victim of his West Bromwich Albion team’s dismal run of form. The 40 year-old Italian can think himself desperately unlucky when considering his excellent early season form which included a stunning 3-2 win against Arsenal at The Emirates. The dismissal came as somewhat of a surprise from a West Brom board who in the past have been far more tolerant of managers with worse Premier League records than Di Matteo. It would seem that the club’s inability to sustain Premier League football has become a growing frustration for the men in charge of the West Midland’s club and to oversee yet another relegation, but this time with a more talented squad, would certainly be perceived as a failure. As a result, the axe fell hard on youthful manager Roberto Di Matteo and was swiftly replaced by Roy Hodgson, a man who will have little trouble in empathising with his predecessor.
A mere six weeks ago Roy Hodgson was dismissed as the manager of Liverpool Football Club. An obvious inability to reverse poor results on the pitch coupled with his thoroughly unconvincing ability to manage a club of such enormity culminated in the experienced manager being pointed in the direction of the Anfield exit. It had all gone so wrong for one of the game’s more likeable managers but as seen again this week, with the affable Di Matteo, football management can be a merciless task and if you can’t win games, being Mr Nice Guy holds little relevance. Hodgson’s calamitous fall from EUROPA League finalists with Fulham to EUROPA League qualification chasers with Liverpool has unfortunately tarnished his reputation within the game. He will now attempt to regain the respect of his peers as manager of West Bromwich Albion.
The replacement of Roberto Di Matteo for Roy Hodgson represents a massive gamble for West Brom but the payouts could be enormous should it prove to be successful. Should the board have stuck with Di Matteo there was no guarantee that he would have been able to halt the team’s awful form. In recent weeks he has cut a forlorn figure in the West Brom dugout, possibly due to a lack of confidence in his own managerial abilities but also, as rumoured, because he felt he could no longer motivate his players. His replacement suffered similarly at Liverpool where it was evident in many of his player’s overall performances and their displays of body language that they did not believe in their manager’s capabilities. On the other hand, at Fulham, Hodgson’s players gave everything for their manager’s cause, often putting in performances which seemed far greater than the individual ability that each player had previously shown to have at their disposal.
West Brom’s managerial change ultimately boils down to which Roy Hodgson decides to turn up at The Hawthorns. If Roy Hodgson of Liverpool reappears, West Brom fans should probably prepare themselves for yet another descent into the second tier of English football. Conversely, should Roy Hodgson of Fulham manifest himself in the West Midlands, there could be every reason to expect the club to stay in the Premier League and push on up the table in future seasons. To the joy of West Bromwich Albion fans, the latter seems more plausible. Hodgson’s greatest managerial success, taking into account the resources available, was at Fulham; a club which is similar in stature and ambitions to his new employers. Clearly he is a man who struggles with the expectations of the top clubs, as seen in the past with Internazionale and more recently Liverpool, but he thrives under the role as the underdog as demonstrated by his remarkable success at Craven Cottage.
West Bromwich Albion may have caused a shock by offering Hodgson a hasty return to management following his Liverpool disaster but in him they have recruited last season’s EUROPA League finalist and LMA Manager of the Year. When the 2009/10 season reached its conclusion, Hodgson was seriously hot property following his achievements at Fulham, touted with potential moves to various clubs and even being considered as Fabio Capello’s successor should he have resigned after the World Cup. With this in mind West Brom have pulled off somewhat of a managerial coup and his miserable time at Anfield will soon be forgotten should he start winning games for The Baggies. Although failure may dictate the end of Hodgson’s lengthy managerial career, success could propel the man into a position where once again he can harbour ambitions of managing his country.
- Paul Richards