football

New Watford manager Roy Hodgson confident he can lead Hornets to Premier league safety


The former England and Crystal Palace boss has joined Watford until the end of the season, following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri after Friday night’s dismal defeat to Norwich City

Roy Hodgson new manager of Watford takes his first training session with assistant Ray Lewington
Roy Hodgson new manager of Watford takes his first training session with assistant Ray Lewington

Roy Hodgson believes his track record of saving troubled clubs from the drop will be his trump card at Watford.

The former England coach made a shock return to football, eight months after stepping down as Crystal Palace manager, when he agreed a short-term deal with the struggling Hornets.

Hodgson, 74, is Watford’s 15th permanent boss in the last 10 years and their third this season after Claudio Ranieri’s 112-day reign ended on Monday.

He has inherited a team who have collected only one point since November 20, and Hodgson’s first game will be at rock-bottom Burnley on February 5.

But he insisted: “It’s a massive challenge, but I believe I’m ready to take it on. If the players are as good as I think they can be, then I’m hopeful of helping the club to another season in the Premier League.

“I’m confident in the sense that I’ve been in situations that aren’t so different to this before, at Fulham, West Brom and Palace.

“The period of time I had to change things might have been a bit longer on each occasion – and at West Brom the league position wasn’t as bleak – but in terms of coming in, getting my ideas across and getting the team playing, it feels somewhat similar.

“I can certainly assure all the Watford fans that our desire to keep the club in the league will be every bit as great as theirs, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.

“It’s going to be a really intense four months for us, and if we are going to achieve our goal the players are the ones who are going to do it for us.

“I agree with the club’s belief that there is a group of good players here, but they have to buy into our ideas and show commitment to the shirt.”

Hodgson had not been actively seeking work or applying for jobs since leaving Selhurst Park, but he revealed: “Although I think it was the right time for me to step aside at Palace after a long four years, my passion for the game was never missing, even when I stopped.

“The last thing on my mind when I watched Watford’s match against Norwich last week was that I could become the club’s manager.

“It’s come out of the blue, but very pleasantly out of the blue and I do feel very ready to take this challenge on.”

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