It’s been a frustrating summer for Fulham. Even before Rafa Benitez got the elbow from Liverpool, there were rumours that they were seeking to take Roy Hodgson to Anfield. Bizarrely, the Reds sacked Benitez and had to pay him off just before he took an offer elsewhere, which seems like a waste of a few million quid.
Anyway, it was sad to see Hodgson go (and had England not kept faith with Fabio Capello, it’s likely that he’d have been up for the national job), but in a way it was fairly heartening to see that it was with Fulham that he restored his reputation in England. He’s also promised not to be poaching players from the Cottage over the summer, which shows that he is still a decent bloke. He certainly likes a challenge, and Liverpool are going to present one. At least they know he can marshall a good run in the Europa Cup.
Of all the names that were being bandied about as a replacement, that of Mark Hughes did pique my interest. He got a raw deal at Man City, being shoved out by new owners to make way for Mancini despite doing pretty well with a team in transition. I also remember him from one of the best games of football I ever saw on TV: Chelsea v Liverpool in the FA Cup – (YouTube highlights) in which he came on as a sub for Chelsea with the score at 0-2, and inspired his team to win 4-2. Hughes scored the first of the comeback goals, and was on absolutely top form.
I don’t have much time for Sven Goran Ericksson. Alan Curbishley may have done well for Charlton, but he was part of the ruination of West Ham and didn’t rate players like Konchesky, Zamora or Painstil much. We have some ex-players who are managing lower league teams and could be ones to watch for the future, like Lee Clarke and Sean O’Driscoll, but it’s perhaps too big a step up. Martin Jol would have been a good choice, but alas, Ajax would not let him go.
So, I’m happy that we have found a decent manager. He won’t be the same as Hodgson, and I hope that supporters give him some time. I also hope that the players rally behind their new boss. With no European distractions, this is a season to make a big statement in the league, if we play it right.