New Fulham boss Hodgson ready for challenge

December 29, 2007

New Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has embraced the relegation battle that lies ahead and is convinced he can lead the Cottagers to safety.

Morale at the London club has hit rock-bottom following the 5-1 Boxing Day rout at Tottenham, a result that pushed them back into the relegation zone.

Owner Mohamed Al Fayed has declared Fulham must survive in the Barclays Premier League at all costs and Hodgson has vowed to fulfil his brief.

'I'm delighted to have been offered this opportunity with Fulham,' said Hodgson.

'After long talks with the chairman and the board I'm convinced that we can take the club to a new level.

'I'm determined that we will overcome the current position, which I understand will be a challenge, but one that I will relish.

'I'm very much looking forward to training with the team tomorrow.'

Caretaker-boss Ray Lewington oversees today's critical trip to Birmingham with Hodgson, who has been appointed on a 'long-term contract', in charge for Chelsea on Tuesday.

After the tenures of rookie coaches Chris Coleman and Lawrie Sanchez, Hodgson arrives at Craven Cottage as something of an elder statesman.

He has accumulated over 30 years managerial experience, including two stints at Italian giants Inter Milan whom he steered to the UEFA Cup final in 1997.

The 60-year-old achieved fame in international football with Switzerland, a team he led to the finals of the 1994 World Cup and 1996 European Championships.

He recently took charge of Finland for their Euro 2008 qualification campaign and just missed out on securing a place at a major tournament for the first time in the nation's history.

For Al Fayed the desire to see a return to attacking football at Craven Cottage convinced him Hodgson was the right candidate to succeed Sanchez.

The long-ball tactics favoured by Sanchez were unpopular and Al Fayed has promised fans a change in emphasis.

'It's my vision to combine the best of the fantastic traditions of the Premier League with the flair and innate professionalism of the continental game,' said Al Fayed.

'I hope this vision will return Fulham to its tradition of playing attractive, passing football.

'I believe that Roy has immense experience in all areas of football and can drive this club forward for the long term.

'My commitment to this club has never dwindled and I'm more than ever determined that we have the right man to turn round our current predicament and build for a successful future.'