Premier League Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers (1997-1998), Fulham (2008-2010), Liverpool FC (2010-2011), West Bromwich Albion (2011-2012), Crystal Palace (2017-PRESENT)
Few in the management game have a CV that is as globalised as Roy Hodgson. He has managed 16 different teams in eight countries in a management career that has spanned over 40 years. It began in Sweden with Halmstads BK in 1976 and continues today as manager of Crystal Palace. Hodgson has also managed the Switzerland, Finland and England international teams, as well as the likes of Malmö FF, Inter Milan, Fulham, Udinese and Liverpool FC.
The Swedish connection
Roy Hodgson’s playing career wasn’t one filled with much success. He was in the youth setup at Crystal Palace but never quite broke through into the first-team. He spent time in the non-league with the likes of Tonbridge, Maidstone United and Gravesend & Northfleet. However, he was already into coaching and he started his managerial career in Sweden with Halmstads BK in the top-flight. His success there is considered as one of the biggest surprises in the history of Swedish football. When he took over, Halmstads were a team fighting against relegation on a regular basis but in his five seasons with them, he guided them to league championships in 1976 and 1979.
After an unhappy time in England with Bristol City which included a brief four-month spell as caretaker manager, he returned to Sweden in 1982, managing lower-league sides Oddevold and Örebro. In 1985, he took over at one of the biggest teams in the country and enjoyed his best win ratio rate of his career at Malmö. He led the team to five consecutive league championships and two Swedish Cups.
On the continental stage, the club’s biggest achievement was knocking out Italian champions Inter Milan in the first round of the 1989-1990 European Cup season, helped by drawing 1-1 at The San Siro. Malmö crashed out in the next round to Mechelen of Belgium. Due to his successful time with the club, he is still greatly appreciated by the supporters who have unofficially named a section of the stadium “Roy’s Hörna.”
In July 1990, Roy moved to another country to manage, starting a five-year association with Switzerland. First up was unheralded club side Neuchatel Xamax, guiding them to third and fifth place finishes in his two seasons managing in the top-flight. In January 1992, Hodgson took over as manager of the national team, replacing Uli Stielike, who replaced Hodgson in the vacancy created by his departure from Neuchatel Xamax.
Switzerland had been absent from major international competition for nearly 30 years but under him, they qualified for the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, coming ahead of Portugal and Scotland in a tricky qualification section. He also took the Swiss to their highest-ever position in the FIFA World Rankings of third.
With no home nation involvement, Roy was one of the few Englishman at the 1994 World Cup and his team were drawn into Group A, together with the hosts, Romania and highly-fancied Colombia. The opening match against the United States was the first World Cup game to be played indoors at The Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. They drew that game 1-1 and finished runners-up in the group after an impressive 4-1 victory over Romania. Elimination followed in the round-of-16, losing 3-0 to Spain.
Under Hodgson’s tenure, they easily qualified for the 1996 European Championships, losing just once in 10 qualifying matches. However, Hodgson left after qualification was assured as he had already accepted a position as manager of Italian giants, Inter Milan. At Inter, he guided them away from relegation danger on his arrival to seventh place in 1995-1996 and third in 1996-1997. He managed the likes of Youri Djorkaeff, Paul Ince and Javier Zanetti on a run to the UEFA Cup final, where they played FC Schalke 04 in the final. It was the last year where the final was played over two legs and after two 1-0 home victories, the final went to penalties. Schalke triumphed and Inter fans were furious, pelting Hodgson with coins and lighters afterwards. It was his last match in-charge of the Italians and he returned to England for his first crack in the Premier League.
Blackburn Rovers had won the Premier League title in 1995 but had slipped to 13th just two seasons later and Jack Walker had persuaded Hodgson to come to England and attempt to steer the Lancastrians back in the right direction. Things started well. Blackburn were second on Christmas Day 1997 and he won two Manager of the Month Awards in the process. In Chris Sutton, he had a player who knew where the back of the net was and his 18 goals meant he shared the Golden Boot with Dion Dublin and Michael Owen. Blackburn eventually finished in sixth place and qualified for the UEFA Cup.
His second season was unsuccessful. Numerous injuries, talk of unrest in the dressing room and the failure to find a suitable replacement for Scottish defender Colin Hendry, who had joined Rangers in the summer combined to a season of struggle. After a 2-0 home defeat to Southampton in November 1998, Blackburn dropped to the foot of the table. Moments after the game, Walker sacked Hodgson after Roy had refused the opportunity to resign. He later admitted: “To Blackburn’s honour, Jack Walker wanted me to resign; he wanted to still pay for the rest of my contract. I refused to do that, arrogant of course as I was in those days. I thought if they stuck with me I’d save them from relegation. I gave him no choice but to sack me.”
After Blackburn, he returned to Inter Milan as technical director before returning to Switzerland to coach Grasshoppers Zurich for a season. In October 2000, Kevin Keegan resigned as England manager and Hodgson was shortlisted for the job. However, he was ruled out of the running when he agreed to take over in Denmark at FC Copenhagen. In his one season with them, he guided them to their first Danish championship since 1993 and they won the Danish Supercup too. He left them in the summer of 2001 to take up a post with Udinese which lasted less than six months with the club only ninth in the table. He has admitted it was a mistake to leave Copenhagen for Udinese.
After spells managing the United Arab Emirates international team and Viking FK in Norway, he became the national coach of Finland in January 2006. Finland had never qualified for a major tournament and narrowly failed to qualify for EURO 2008, finishing fourth in their group with 24 points and only missing out on automatic qualification by just three points.
Then, it was back to English football in a slightly surprise appointment in west London.
In late December 2007, Hodgson accepted the post of manager of Fulham who were sitting 18th in the Premier League table and had mustered just two wins in the entire campaign. His first game in-charge ended in defeat to Chelsea and he immediately looked at strengthening the squad, with Brede Hangeland being one of his key signings. The pair had worked together at Viking FK. Initially, results did not improve. Fulham were dismissed out of the FA Cup on penalties by League One outfit Bristol Rovers and in his first 13 league matches, the Cottagers amassed a meagre nine points.
At half-time against Manchester City in April 2008, Fulham were 2-0 down and seemingly destined for relegation to the Championship but some galvanising words at half-time saw a stirring second half fightback. A late goal from Diomansy Kamara helped Fulham to a 3-2 victory and spearheaded a dramatic recovery. Wins over Birmingham City and Portsmouth in the final two games saw Hodgson’s side achieve unlikely survival at the expense of Reading and Birmingham.
In the summer of 2008, the experienced Mark Schwarzer arrived on a free transfer from Middlesbrough and Hodgson also completed a permanent move for Danny Murphy, signed teenage defender Chris Smalling and strikers Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson. He guided Fulham to a fantastic seventh place in the table which remains the club’s highest-ever finish in the top-flight and ensuring qualification for the new UEFA Europa League.
In 2009-2010, Fulham’s Premier League form was inconsistent throughout the campaign but Roy still enjoyed notable victories over Liverpool FC, Everton and Manchester United, collected two Manager of the Month Awards and a solid 12th place finish, just four points behind Birmingham City in ninth. The main attention of Fulham’s campaign was saved for their historic run in the UEFA Europa League. The Cottagers eliminated holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian superpowers Juventus, German champions VfL Wolfsburg and former European Cup winners Hamburger SV in the knockout rounds. The win over Hamburg took Fulham to a major European final for the first time in their 130-year history. They would visit Hamburg’s ground for the showpiece event against Atletico Madrid. The final went to extra time at 1-1 before Diego Forlan scored the winning goal for the Spaniards. It had been an epic run which ended in cruel disappointment.
After winning the LMA Manager of the Year by a record margin, Hodgson left Fulham in the summer of 2010 to take over the vacancy at Liverpool FC following the departure of Rafa Benitez.
Anfield villain turns Baggies hero
When Hodgson turned up at Anfield, it came against the backdrop of an unstable period. The club’s owners had put the Merseysiders up for sale and the takeover went through in mid-October during his reign. Also, news broke that club legend Kenny Dalglish had applied for the vacancy and been turned down. As soon as the faithful found this out, Hodgson was never going to win the supporters over.
Poor results didn’t help matters. Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties at Anfield by League Two strugglers Northampton Town and a 2-1 home defeat by Blackpool in early October saw the club drop into the bottom three of the top-flight for the first time since September 1964. He admitted afterwards that Liverpool were potentially facing a relegation battle.
There was a 2-0 victory over league champions Chelsea and progress into the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League but more alarming displays and defeats to Stoke City, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers left him on borrowed time. After a 3-1 reverse at former club Blackburn in early January, his ill-fated spell was brought to an end by John W. Henry. He won just seven out of his 20 Premier League matches and left with the club in 12th and just four points above the drop zone.
A month later, he was appointed as West Bromwich Albion boss, replacing Roberto Di Matteo. West Brom had the worst defensive record in the league, lost 13 of their previous 18 outings and were only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. He immediately tightened up the backline and five wins and five draws took the Baggies clear of any danger, finishing in a creditable 11th position.
He went one position better in 2011-2012 with some impressive away performances which included a 1-0 victory at Anfield and a 5-1 thrashing of Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers. Now, his national side was calling him. England needed a manager ahead of EURO 2012 and Roy answered the emergency call.
The England experience
After Fabio Capello had resigned as England manager in February 2012, it was widely anticipated that Harry Redknapp would take the job but FA chairman David Bernstein insisted only Hodgson had been approached for the position. He agreed a four-year contract.
England were just a month away from competing at the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, so expectations were low going into the tournament. However, they won their group with two wins from three matches before bowing out to Italy via a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.
The Three Lions then produced an unbeaten qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup finals and Hodgson was praised for giving several youngsters and newcomers a chance in the international setup. The likes of Andros Townsend, Adam Lallana, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Rodriguez all won their maiden caps during his tenure in the international post. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was a major disappointment. Defeats to Italy and Uruguay saw England eliminated before the first week of the competition was complete. A dire goalless draw with Costa Rica ensured England finished bottom of Group D. Whilst the group was one of the toughest, a total of one point was not good enough for all concerned within the England setup.
Worse was to come at the 2016 European Championships. England went into the tournament considered as one of the favourites to go into the latter stages, especially after a stirring friendly victory in Berlin over Germany a few months before the competition got underway in France. However, it never seemed like he knew his best line-up, his best tactical system and he stayed far too loyal to underperforming players. Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling were among those to have a terrible individual tournament. Having been beaten to top spot in the group by Wales, England put in a diabolical performance in the round-of-16 match against Iceland. England led but lost the lead through poor tactics at a throw-in and a goalkeeping error. Iceland won the game 2-1 to provide Hodgson with his biggest humiliation in his career. He promptly resigned shortly after the full-time whistle.
Revival at Palace
After a year on the sidelines to reflect on the Iceland defeat, Hodgson came back from what appeared to be the managerial scrapheap to take charge of his boyhood club, Crystal Palace. Palace were in big trouble, having lost their first four matches without scoring a goal and had sacked Frank de Boer. Although he lost his first three matches by a margin of 10-0, a surprising 2-1 victory over league champions Chelsea in October 2017 started a revival in form.
No team had previously survived relegation from the top-flight after losing their first seven games but a revitalised Palace achieved this feat fairly comfortably. Leicester City were beaten 5-0 for the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory and they eventually finished 11th, just one place below their best Premier League finish of 10th, achieved during Alan Pardew’s tenure in 2014-2015.
It looks like the Eagles will be involved again in a relegation battle in 2018-2019 but recent home victories over Burnley and Leicester City suggest the club are finding their best form at Selhurst Park again and with Hodgson’s experience in the game, they will always feel confident of achieving the minimum target every season which is survival and plenty more top-flight football to come in south-east London.