Is Roy Hodgson the Right Man for Liverpool?

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Is Roy Hodgson the Right Man for Liverpool?
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It did not come as much of a surprise when Liverpool announced the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager – he was widely considered the best man for the job.  Whilst Hodgson has had many ups and a few downs too in his roller-coaster career, even he must be surprised at how significantly his stock has risen over the last couple of years.

Starting out at Halmstad, Hodgson's first managerial post still stands as one of his proudest achievements.  The Swedish club had narrowly avoided relegation via goal difference the year before he took charge.  Hodgson promptly turned their fortunes around, taking them to the title in 1976 and again in 1979.

His stint in Sweden later continued at Malmö, where he won five consecutive titles and was offered a job for life, he declined though, not wishing to rest on his laurels.  One of the highlights of his time at the club was his defeat of Inter Milan over two legs in the European Cup.  This was to set a precedent, as Hodgson developed a penchant for overachieving at modest clubs.

His next séjour was to Swiss side, Neuchâtel Xamax, where he continued his giant-killing exploits, taking the scalps of Celtic and Real Madrid.

He took charge of the Swiss national team in 1992 and led them to the 1994 World Cup, where they reached the last 16.  In qualifying, Switzerland took four points off eventual runners-up, Italy.  He also ensured they qualified for Euro 96 before leaving for Inter Milan in 1995.  Switzerland reached a remarkable third in the FIFA world rankings under Hodgson.

At Inter, the Londoner again inherited a struggling side midway through the season but managed to to steer them to a sixth place finish.  The next season Inter finished third and reached the UEFA Cup final.

In 1997, Hodgson left to take over at Blackburn Rovers but, despite a promising first season, he was ultimately unsuccessful.  Following his dismissal from Rovers, a fleeting return to Inter and a spell at Grasshopper Zürich interspersed a successful stint at FC Copenhagen.

A lull followed though, the multi-linguist struggling at Udinese first and then the United Arab Emirates.  After a return to Scandinavia with Viking in Norway and then the Finnish national team, Hodgson was the surprise choice to replace Lawrie Sanchez at Fulham in December 2007.

He struggled at first but rallied to keep the cottagers up on the last day of the season, coming from two-nil down to beat Manchester City 3-2.

The next season, Hodgson led his team to seventh place and a European spot.  In the 2009-10 season, Fulham reached the final of the newly-named Europa League, losing narrowly to a late Diego Forlan goal in extra time.

His time at Fulham helped revive his career and, before he took the Liverpool post, there was talk of him replacing under-fire England manager, Fabio Capello.

Hodgson's approach differs to that of his predecessor, Rafael Benitez.  While Benitez had a measure of success during his Liverpool reign – most notably in winning the Champions League in 2005 – he, at times, let his emotions get the better of him.  His Keegan-esque rant about 'facts' relating to Sir Alex Ferguson was seen by many as the beginning of the end for the Spaniard.

Hodgson's calm, understated demeanour could be a breath of fresh air for the club.  His relationship with the media has always been a good one too; there's unlikely to be the same sort of defensive approach employed by Benitez.

Hodgson's first task could be his most pivotal: keeping Liverpool's big names at the club.  If he manages that, there is every chance of him improving the Merseysiders' fortunes.

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