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How Roy Hodgson steered Fulham on long road to Hamburg
The whistle for half-time shrills at Eastlands and, as the home support break from applause into another rowdy chorus of “Sven-Goran Eriksson”, Roy Hodgson peels himself up from his slouch in the visitors’ dugout. It is a little after 3.45pm on Saturday 26 April 2008 and Fulham, trailing 2-0, appear condemned to the Championship. Much has been made of the slog the Londoners began yesterday to Hamburg’s Nordbank Arena, but nothing compares to the journey this club has embarked Best Prada Outlet In Florence upon since Hodgson stared relegation in the face.
A 600-mile coach journey involving a cross?Channel ferry and a night’s stopover sounds nightmarish preparation, but a Europa League semi-final is the stuff of dreams for Fulham. The transformation of this team from the unlikely escapologists of two years ago, to European qualifiers last season and now contenders to lift the recently revamped Uefa Cup remains astonishing. Carlo Ancelotti could claim Chelsea’s first ever Double this season. If he fails, Sir Alex Ferguson may steer Manchester United to a fourth Premier League title in succession and his club’s 19th domestic championship. Yet Hodgson will still be many people’s manager of the year.
Back at Eastlands that afternoon a little shy of two years ago, that prospect was unthinkable. Hodgson had been named as Lawrie Sanchez’s successor at Craven Cottage at the end of December 2007 with the side 19th in the Premier League and still reeling from a thrashing at Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day. They lost the new manager’s first Authentic Prada Americas Cup Sneakers three league games, all Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada derbies, and had won only three of his 15 league matches C hardly the stuff of renaissance C by the time City eased into their two-goal lead. The introduction of Diomansy Kamara 26 minutes from the Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shopping end smacked of desperation yet, from the moment the Senegalese lashed in the visitors’ third deep into stoppage time that afternoon, Fulham have not looked back.
Birmingham and Portsmouth were beaten in the final two games of the campaign, the Cottagers squeezing breathlessly above the cut-off on goal difference at Reading’s considerable expense. Theirs had been a frantic, adrenaline-fuelled recovery yet, from the basis of preserving Premier League status, Hodgson has instigated a more measured, long-term revival.
“He changed the whole way we were playing,” said Danny Murphy, whose header at Fratton Park on the final day had kept the side up. “He made Bicester Village Prada Online us more