Hodgson bids to follow Robson
Roy Hodgson has his heart set on emulating Sir Bobby Robson by becoming the first English manager to lift a European trophy for 13 years.
Fulham hope to defy the odds one last time when they meet favourites Atletico Madrid in the final of the Europa League at the Hamburg Arena tonight.
The last time an Englishman tasted success while guiding a club in European competition was in 1997 when Robson led Barcelona to glory in the Cup Winners’ Cup.
Ironically, Hodgson steered Inter Milan to the UEFA Cup final in the same year while Steve McClaren is the nation’s only manager to reach the same stage since with Middlesbrough in 2006.
Hodgson, the newly-crowned League Managers’ Association manager of the year, hopes he can follow in the steps of Robson, who passed away last year.
“To follow a manager like Bobby Robson would be fantastic because as you know, we were friends for many years,” he said.
“He was a great man, a great manager and it would be very nice to think I could follow him.”
It has been 25 years since an English manager won a European competition while in charge of an English club with Howard Kendall winning the Cup Winners’ Cup at Everton.
Hodgson offers a simple explanation for the lack of success.
“The best English teams don’t have English managers and the best foreign teams don’t have English managers,” he said.
“Therefore, you’re looking for an English manager to win a trophy with an unfancied team.
“If you’re really serious about winning a title at this level, especially the Champions League, then you must make sure you’re working for big clubs because it’s not very often that teams like ours get to the final.”
A Fulham triumph in the biggest match of the club’s 131-year history would taste all the sweeter knowing they have done it the hard way.
“If we lose then I hope it means we’ve been beaten by a better team and not that we’ve been very unlucky or been hit by some decisions that are controversial,” said Hodgson. “At the moment we're planning not to be second best.”