Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Hodgson: Staying up is our priority

Roy Hodgson

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson has urged his side avoid becoming the latest victims of the Barclays Premier League 'second-season syndrome' ahead of Sunday's opening home clash with Manchester United.

Hodgson knows the expectation levels have been raised after 20 points in 12 games following his arrival in February saw Albion finish 11th in their first campaign back in the top flight. But he is aware of clubs failing to build on their initial taste of the Premier League with the likes of Ipswich, Reading and Hull recently relegated in their second campaigns.

"When you finish a season well, as we did, you are concerned about whether you can start where you left off," said Hodgson.

"Sometimes when things are going badly at the end of a season, you are pleased to see the end of it so you can start afresh.

"We did have a very good run, only lost two of the last 12 league games which is a good record for any Premier League team.

"We moved quite a few places up the table. As a result we have made a rod for our own back to some extent. People will expect more of us than had we avoided relegation on goal difference.

"But I can't stop preaching the most important thing is our second year in the Premier League - and everyone knows that is notoriously the most dangerous year after being promoted."

Hodgson added: "We have got to work very hard to make sure we stay in this league, continue to become a solid, reliable team and club and can then hope to build continually on a platform of success. I don't really mind where we finish at this moment in time.

"I'd like, of course, to finish as high as possible but if we are still in the Premier League, I'll be pretty pleased. I'm not playing down anything, I'm just trying to make sure people are realistic.

"I think we've got a good team and I think we are capable of winning games. We could have a very good season. But I want to make certain everybody understands what the main priority is. There can only be one priority - staying up."

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