When Roy Hodgson was offered the job of taking Fulham out of the relegation zone a year ago, he may have been motivated by more than money, writes Paul Doyle. Another key factor at play was redemption. Despite much acclaim for his coaching prowess abroad, neither of his previous spells in England at Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers had yielded success, so "Fulham tempted him with an opportunity to rectify a wrong that rankled."
His Fulham predecessor Lawrie Sanchez "had bought badly and imposed a brand of football that frustrated his few classy players." In the past year Hodgson "has simply gone back to basics, recruiting good athletes and getting them to play tidy, tough football." Defense has been the key, with only Chelsea and Manchester United having conceded fewer goals this season.
Statistics may not impress everyone, writes Doyle, but it's significant that "Fulham are averaging 52 percent possession every game, compared to a wasteful 44 percent under Sanchez, and pass completion in the opposing half is up to 68 percent, from 59 percent." Hodgson himself said that "it's not easy to replace a squad in a reasonably economic way. But our platform is very solid now and that's something we haven't had for a few years. But even today we're still a long way off where I'd like to think the club could get to."