It looked like Harry Redknapp, it felt like Harry Redknapp, it was certain to be Harry Redknapp, but alas it wasn’t Harry Redknapp after all. Following months of speculation and some well-voiced opinions from players, managers, and the media alike, the FA sprung a remarkable and ironic surprise on the nation when it came to announcing a new England manager…
On May 1st, 2012, it was announced that West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson would be the man to sign on the dotted line and become England manager for the next 4 years. The initial reaction to the appointment was one of bemusement – ‘Why not Harry Redknapp?’ was the question on the majority of peoples lips.
It didn’t take too long for Roy’s appointment to sink in and now everyone from players to managers, pundits to journalists and even the most opinionated of football bloggers have pledged their support for Hodgson. Roy may not be the personality take on the mammoth task that is the England job, but he is one of the most experienced English managers ever and his CV speaks for itself. Many see the England job as a poisoned chalice, managing a country that has underachieved in recent years, but has to keep pace with the world’s footballing giants or risk being left behind – the odds are already against Hodgson, but it is a job Hodgson will relish like some many other before.
It is not just Hodgson that the odds are against. His departure leaves a gaping hole in a club that has longed for a manager of his caliber for a long time. West Brom have not had the most illustrious of Premier League careers thus far. They are firmly established as a ‘yo-yo club’, generally getting relegated as quickly as they get promoted from the Championship. They last experienced this with Tony Mowbray back in the 2008/2009 season, a season in which they suffered the ignominy of finishing bottom of the Premier League with the title ‘whipping boys’.
West Brom’s latest return was under Roberto Di Matteo in the 2010/11 season after a successful campaign lead them to finish second in the Championship. The alarm bells started to ring at West Brom after Di Matteo experienced a run of 13 defeats in 18 games that would cost the Italian his job and leave West Brom hovering above the relegation zone. On February 11th, 2011, Roy Hodgson, fresh from a little break in the sun after his Liverpool sacking, took charge of the then struggling club.
The result? Hodgson would lead West Brom to their highest league finish (11th) for 3 decades.
Having carved out a reputation for himself as a top class manager at underachieving clubs, it seemed Hodgson had found himself a home once again. At last this ‘yo-yo club’ had found some stability that could keep them in the Premier League for the long term. With safety from relegation very much guaranteed this season and the club’s subsequent stay in the top flight extended, losing Roy Hodgson is a huge blow to West Brom in a bigger way than meets the eye.
Everyone forgets how far Roy Hodgson has bought West Brom and how integral he was to their continued Premier League status – now the pressure is on for West Brom to appoint someone to fill Hodgson’s rather large boots. The new manager will be tasked with galvanizing a squad who were firmly behind Hodgson as well as being able to live up to the high standards that Hodgson has set – Hodgson has a CV like no other having coached throughout Europe, so who can West Brom replace him with?
Had it been Harry Redknapp after all, one could just imagine the amount of quality applications that would’ve poured in at White Hart Lane. Top quality managers vying for control of a club with a growing status in the sport, a fantastic squad, and a decent transfer kitty. West Brom are a club with modest resources and a status that was only just stabilizing under Hodgson. They simply will not have their pick of the kind of managers that they need. Indeed, Roy Hodgson was a rare find for them, a manager who thrives against ever lengthening odds, a manager that has been hugely undervalued.
We have seen what can happen when a club loses a figurehead who fits – look at Charlton’s fall from grace. Every clubs aspires to ‘do a Charlton’ and Hodgson was well on his way to taking West Brom there as the club sits tenth in the Premier League, improving on last seasons eleventh place finish. England fans may have initially rebuked at the appointment of Roy Hodgson, but try finding another Roy Hodgson – it’s a hard task and don’t West Brom know it.
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