The term “journeyman” is usually reserved for footballers in their mid-30s. Those who have played for more clubs than their old minds can remember and who either failed to reach their potential or were incapable of convincing managers that they were good enough to keep.
If you look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary it simply says: “Nick Barmby and Steve Claridge”.
But rarely, if ever, is a manager labelled in such terms. But surely if anyone befits the label it is Roy Hodgson.
The 63-year-old is a man who, prior to his six-month stint at Liverpool, had a largely positive reputation.
His appointment at West Bromwich Albion yesterday was the twentieth of a managerial career that has spanned thirty-five years.
But if a club went through as many managers as Hodgson has gone through clubs, serious questions would be asked about the running of it.
Outside of Scandinavia his record of success is modest at best: a UEFA Cup runners-up medal with Inter Milan in 1997 and another in the then-rebranded Europa League with unfashionable Fulham in 2010.
However West Brom are realistic enough to know they are not looking for someone with a cabinet full of honours.
They need someone to galvanise them to beat the drop and someone who thrives in such a situation. Undoubtedly Hodgson is a manager who works best with an underdog mentality.
Fulham aside, Hodgson guided Switzerland to World Cup 1994 – their first appearance since 1966 and led Finland to their highest ever FIFA World Ranking position during a stint between 2006 and 2007.
Perhaps more important was his “Great Escape” effort with Fulham in 2008 – epitomised by their amazing 3-2 comeback win at Manchester City.
It is surely this ability to create success for the “unfashionable” team that lay behind West Brom’s belief he is the right man to ensure relegation is avoided.
His tenure at Liverpool was abject to put it mildly. Having been at Anfield for their match against Wolves in late-December, it was clear that Hodgson was out of his depth.
The supposedly famous Kop could easily have been mistaken for a library as the chant “You’ll Never Work Again” reverberated around the old ground from the away end. Though criticising the fans after the match was not perhaps Hodgson’s best move.
On the pitch the spectacle was arguably worse. The player’s movement was as restricted as an old pensioner’s tea-dance and to put it bluntly Lucas stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The night confirmed that neither the players nor the fans believed Hodgson was the right man.
However West Brom, no disrespect to the clubs involved, are more a Fulham than a Liverpool.
Hodgson can now get down to what he is best at – making the underdog a difficult challenge to overcome.
When he arrived at Craven Cottage in December 2007, the brief he was given was simply to keep the club up and it is hard to think of a better man for the job currently on the market than Hodgson.
For his failings at Liverpool – both tactically and in the transfer market – his reputation is built for this kind of challenge
Roy Hodgson: The Managerial “Journeyman”.
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