Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Great Escape from Roy Hodgson Perspective

Roy Hodgson's thoughts:

On what was going through his head when Danny Murphy scored the survival goal:
Well, I thought I’d save my jumping around and jubilation until the end. I was so conscious of the fact that there was a long time to play and it wasn’t over. I was thinking more in terms of getting a message out to the players to make sure that they concentrated for the next few minutes and that they didn’t allow the euphoria of scoring the goal to bring about what it brought about when we took the lead against Derby when they immediately equalised, and the following week, when we got back into the game against Sunderland, but before we could even digest that we’d let another in. I wanted a. to ensure that wasn’t going to happen and b. to think very carefully about what options I had on the bench, how tired certain players were, and whether there were changes that would help us secure the victory. So my mind was working overtime. I’d also go as far as to say I was thinking I didn’t want to jump up quickly in case the goal was ruled out for offside or something! So there was a lot going through my head, but I was as pleased as anybody, of course.
My fears exactly, although I must admit I was overjoyed.

On playing their way out of relegation:
There’s no magic wand or formula, if we were going to survive in the Premier League it would be because we were good enough to do so and I’ve been very heartened by the generosity of McLeish and Coppell in particular who have said, “All credit to Fulham, they produced the results, they produced the performances when it mattered and they deserved to stay up.” I think that’s really how we’ve done it. We haven’t done it in any false or manufactured way, we’ve done it by trying to give the players a clear vision of how we’d like them to play, a clear vision of a football that we think could be a winning brand of football for this group of players, and then getting them to buy into that, getting them to believe it, and then, most important of all, continuing to play it, even when things weren’t going 100% right. It’s not something where you can say, “We tried that and it didn’t work this week, so let’s try something different next week.” We know they believed in it on the training field, they showed us that and we saw it work in games.
I think the brand of football that Fulham were playing at the end of teh season was far superior to the start and even into February and early March. The movement became sharper, the passing better and yes, they started to score more--which of course is how you win matches. But the fact that Hodgson wasn't reacting to the failures of the past gave me hope. In situations such as Fulham's last year, the immediate reaction is to focus on what was going wrong and try to correct rather than focusing on what was going right and building off of it.

So far, I have not been disappointed by the transfers coming in. I would still like to see a quality right back (rumor has it that Fulham have been eyeing Russia's Zhirkov--which would be quality indeed). But I can say other than that, happiness is so far as the transfer window is now open and the silly season has begun.

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