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Roy Hodgson: English Premiership Manager of the Year

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - APRIL 18:  Roy Hodgson the manager of Fulham looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Fulham at the Riverside Stadium on April 18, 2009 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Rob StatonCorrespondent IMay 17, 2009

Roy Hogdson is the English Premiership manager of the year.

It's not even a debate as far as I'm concerned. The fact Fulham are on the brink of European football next season is nothing short of miraculous.

When Hodgson took charge of the Cottagers at the end of 2007, the team were looking into the abyss.

Stranded in the relegation zone, the team's seven-year stint in the Premiership looked all but over.

Winning their last four games helped Hodgson's Fulham achieve what seemed impossible, safety and an important one for the club's future.

The economic situation at Craven Cottage is far from secure. Relegation into the Championship would have been catastrophic financially.

Keeping the team amongst England's elite possibly kept the club in business.

Most recently Southampton went into administration after failing to keep their place in the top division and they now face an uncertain future.

The same could easily have happened to Fulham.

Hodgson has made some key additions. Brede Hangeland was an inspired signing to play the heart of the back four. Andy Johnson came at a price from Everton, but added experience and a proven goalscoring record.

Mark Schwarzer chose to end an 11-year spell in Middlesbrough to move south to London.

Having barely scraped through last year, Fulham were amongst the favorites to struggle again in 2008/09.

They've defied the critics to put the newly named Europa League (formerly UEFA cup) within their sights.

With one week left of the season, they sit in seventh place. A point at home to Everton next Sunday will almost certainly secure a place in Europe.

If you'd have said that last summer, people would have laughed.

Hodgson has had a colorful career. He's managed at Inter (and remains a fan favorite to this day) and the Swiss, U.A.E. and Finish national sides.

A previous spell in the Premiership with Blackburn Rovers had mixed results, European qualification in his first season and sacked during his second as the Lancashire club prepared for relegation.

Getting Fulham into Europe will possibly be his greatest achievement.

He hasn't had the money that Mark Hughes has, or the deep and talented squad enjoyed at Tottenham.

He's made Craven Cottage a difficult place to play, indeed only the two Manchester clubs have better home records in the Premiership.

He deserves all the credit that will come his way if he can secure that European place next week.

Manager of the year? No doubt about it.

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