Roy Hodgson: Ridicule and Revival
On the 27th June 2016, England were knocked out of Euro 2016 in humiliating fashion by minnows Iceland. Naturally, the team were lambasted by the media, but most of the blame was directed to the manager, Roy Hodgson. Hodgson was heavily criticised and promptly resigned, with many believing the veteran’s career in management was over. However, against all odds, he returned to top flight management and essentially saved his managerial career. Hodgson’s career has been a roller coaster where jobs have seen him either in high demand from reputable teams or on the brink of irrelevancy. This is how he has rode the roller coaster of his career:
Swedish football’s pioneer
Hodgson’s playing career was mediocre, playing for 6 non-league teams before retiring in 1976. But his managerial career began in Sweden where he took Halmstads BK from relegation struggles to a league title, still considered one of the biggest surprises in Swedish football history.
After being sacked by Bristol City just 4 months in, Hodgson returned to Sweden with second division teams Oddevold and Örebro for 3 years until he joined Malmö FF.
He won 5 consecutive titles and two Swedish cups during his time there. Knocking out European giants Inter Milan in the European Cup over two legs also brought Hodgson into the limelight of Europe. His influence in Swedish football is still recognised today with his introduction of zonal marking to the league. This alongside his silverware led to Malmo offering him a lifetime contract. However, Hodgson declined this and signed for Swiss team Neuchâtel Xamax. An uneventful period there led to Hodgson taking over as manager of Switzerland.
Rise to importance and continued success:
The Swiss had not qualified for a major tournament since 1966, yet Hodgson took them there in the 1994 World Cup. They reached the round of 16 stage of the tournament before losing to Spain. Qualification for Euro 1996 followed under Hodgson but he left soon after to manage Inter Milan. Switzerland were the third best ranked team in the world at their peak under Hodgson’s stewardship.
His time at Inter Milan was short. He led them to a third place finish and the UEFA Cup final in the 1996/97 season, despite the fact they were bottom of Serie A when he joined. He chose not to stay on though and returned to England with Blackburn Rovers.
Hodgson started well with a 6th place finish and UEFA cup qualification in his first season. However after being bottom of the league the following season, he was sacked. During his time there, Hodgson rejected an approach from the German FA to be their manager and was also heavily linked to the England job. Flattering job links for a man who started as an unknown in Sweden.
Inconsistency of a journeyman:
He took over at Copenhagen in 2000, winning the Superliga championship and Danish Supercup over the two seasons. However, just when Hodgson had re-built his reputation in Europe, he chose to move to Serie A side Udinese where he lasted just 6 months before dismissal. Like before, Hodgson’s career continued to follow this pattern of success one season and failure the next, perhaps why the silverware he has accumulated is overshadowed by his final seasons at clubs/nations.
The United Arab Emirates, Viking and Finland were the 3 sides that followed for Hodgson. However, his time there was nothing worth noting, yet soon after leaving Finland at the end of his contract, he joined Fulham a move that would be career defining for the now 70 year old.
Highs and lows in the Premier League:
The appointment at the time was a surprise, yet Hodgson did not fail to impress. Despite being heavily tipped for relegation, his side defied all odds and survived winning 12 points in their last 5 games in the 2007/08 season. 2008/09 was the polar opposite for Fulham finishing 7th and qualifying for the UEFA Europa league. Already Hodgson had revived his tarnished reputation at Blackburn with calls for him to be selected as Manager of Year. Fulham were incredible in the Europa League impressively reaching their first and only European final in the their history. They lost to Atletico Madrid in extra time, but Hodgson had yet again proven his doubters wrong. An impressive run to the quarter final of the FA Cup alongside the European fairy tale earned him plaudits and LMA Manager of the Year (2010). Hodgson had proven himself in the top flight of English football and was awarded with a high profile move to Liverpool.
His appointment was greeted with a mixed response as he was selected over club legend Kenny Dalglish. His tenure at Anfield was an unpopular one to say the least. Signings such as Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen were shadows of his successful transfer business at Fulham. Furthermore, a string of poor results left Liverpool third from bottom after seven games. Just 7 months after signing, Hodgson left Liverpool by mutual consent. Yet another disastrous spell that once again put him in the limelight but for the wrong reasons.
Hodgson then joined West Brom in the league who were facing a fierce relegation battle. However under Hodgson’s management, the Baggies managed to finish 11th their highest finish in three decades at the time. The following season, Hodgson managed to keep West Brom up again finishing 10th and bettering his previous season. At the end of the season, Hodgson was appointed England manager.
Disappointment and disaster:
Hodgson’s first responsibility as England manager was at Euro 2012. They played impressive football in a difficult group with France and managed to finish top, drawn against Italy in the Round of 16. They lost this game 4-2 on penalties, but were praised by the media for a defensively organised performance.
Hodgson helped England qualify for the 2014 World Cup unbeaten, yet their run in tournament was abysmal. They failed to win a game and went out of the group stage bottom of their group, whilst Costa Rica and Uruguay went through. Hodgson refused to resign and had to backing of the FA for Euro 2016.
England won all of their qualification games for the tournament and Hodgson was praised for a more offensive style of play. Yet despite qualifying from the group stage, Hodgson was about to experience the most embarrassing defeat of his illustrious career. On 27th June in the Round of 16, England were knocked out by Iceland. Hodgson faced fierce criticism over questionable and laughable tactics. Having Harry Kane on set pieces and making six changes to the team that beat Wales were just part of a long list that Hodgson had to endure for months to come. Promptly after his side’s humiliation, his contract expired and as expected, was not renewed. This single defeat alone had wiped out Hodgson’s impressive achievements at club level and left him unemployed for a year. Yet again, Hodgson’s career was suffering the same fate of success followed by failure.
Revival at Selhurst Park:
In September 2017, Hodgson took over boyhood club Crystal palace who hadn’t scored a goal or won a point in their first 4 games and were favourites for relegation. However, Hodgson turned this around in spectacular fashion. Despite losing his first 3 games in charge, defensive organisation and his experience helped Hodgson lead Crystal Palace from destined relegation to a respectable 11th place finish. Palace set a Premier League record for surviving in the Premier League despite losing their first 7 games. Hodgson had done it again, but this time it was appreciated.
What next for Roy Hodgson:
Roy Hodgson has had a career of peaks and troughs. The recurring theme of his career has been success one season promptly followed by disappointment the next. Currently, Hodgson is at Palace just two months away from starting his second season at Selhurst Park. Based on the pattern of career, he could fail this season and move to yet another club the next. However as a football fan, it feels good to see Roy Hodgson at 70 years of age succeed after a career which has seen him go from low high. Despite this inconsistency his career has spanned 42 years (period). Only a career like Roy’s built on hard work and success can last so long. Without a doubt, Hodgson should be considered a veteran and a successful manager that has worked hard to be where he is today. From ridicule to revival, Roy Hodgson’s career continues to go on.