Fulham's Hodgson: "nothing to prove"

LONDON Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:10pm GMT

1 of 3. Fulham Football Club's new manager Roy Hodgson poses for photographers before a news conference at their training ground in Surrey following his appointment as permanent manager December 31, 2007. Hodgson said on Monday he felt no pressure to prove himself to the club's fans or English football as a whole as he prepared for a daunting first game in charge against Chelsea on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Hird

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LONDON (Reuters) - New Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said on Monday he felt no pressure to prove himself to the club's fans or English football as a whole as he prepared for a daunting first game in charge against Chelsea on Tuesday.

The much-travelled 60-year-old was appointed last week to replace sacked Lawrie Sanchez and takes on Chelsea with Fulham second-last in the Premier League.

"It might be 10 years since I worked in the Premiership but I haven't exactly been at a low level," Hodgson told a news conference at the club's training ground.

"I know its a tough league and will be a tough job but I feel after a couple of years as an international manager I'm ready to return."

Hodgson's only experience of the Premier League came with an unsuccessful stint in charge of Blackburn Rovers from 1997-98 but he is one of the most highly-rated coaches in the game.

He coached Finland, the United Arab Emirates and led Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1996, their first appearances in major tournaments for three decades, won trophies galore in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, took Inter Milan to the 1997 UEFA Cup final and sits on various FIFA and UEFA technical committees.

"The mass media in England tends to concentrate on what's happening here and I've made no attempt to keep my name in the frame," he said.

COACHING ABILITY

"Those of us who have been in football for a long time, who have achieved certain things, I think it's wrong to ask if we need to prove ourselves. I'm always rather sad that the 10 championships I won in Sweden get trimmed to four in the newspapers here - I don't know what happened to the other six.

"I think I bring experience, a knowledge of European and, international football, a coaching ability developed over the years, man-management skills, I like to think I've got a lot to bring."

Hodgson faces a tough task to turn things round at Fulham, who have won only two games this season, but says he does not feel a pressing need to go into the transfer market to improve the west London club's prospects.

"The most important thing for me is to know the squad fully by working with them and not just watching from stand or TV," said Hodgson, whose first view of his players came in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.

"It's important we encourage these players to believe in themselves and that they can get themselves out of this situation. At the moment our confidence probably is not at a high level - if we could turn that around we might see a change.

"For now the focus is on Chelsea tomorrow and after that working with the team to improve our play on the pitch.

"It is a major challenge, there's no question about that, but I wouldn't have taken on the job if I didn't think I had to ability to do it."

(Editing by Miles Evans)

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