Fred Everiss became manager (well, secretary-manager) of West Bromwich Albion way back in 1902. English football’s longest-serving manager of all time was still in charge at The Hawthorns when Roy Hodgson was born on 9 August 1947.
Hodgson followed in Everiss’ footsteps 63 years after the latter finally departed West Brom and 60 years after he died. But that was just one leg on the Croydon-born manager’s phenomenal journeyman career that even the most dedicated Football Manager player would be proud of.
The ultimate European Journeyman career
After a brief playing career, which started at Crystal Palace before joining various non-league sides and a year in South Africa, Hodgson took the unusual step of moving to Sweden to manage Halmstads BK in 1976. He immediately won a shock Swedish title in his first season as a manager and again in 1979, which Hodgson regards as a “water-into-wine job” that remains his greatest achievement.
He moved back to England for a self-confessed “disastrous” spell as Bristol City assistant manager in 1980 before becoming caretaker manager two years later. He swiftly returned to Sweden, where things didn’t quite go as well as he suffered relegation with Oddevold then missed out on promotion despite winning the second tier with Örebro. Regardless, that earned him a move to Malmö FF in 1985, where he won five successive Swedish titles and knocked Inter Milan out of the European Cup in 1990. This etched him into the hearts of the Malmö fans, who nicknamed him Royson and still refer to a section of their ground as Roy’s Hörna (Roy’s Corner).
That respect was shared by the Malmö board, who reportedly offered Hodgson a lifetime contract. But he had other ideas, moving to Switzerland with Neuchatal Xamax in 1990 and leading them to successive third-place finishes. That led to him being appointed manager of Switzerland, who he led to their first major tournament since 1966 when they reached the 1994 World Cup in the USA, where they lost 3-0 to Spain the the first knockout round.
Hodgson also led the nation to qualification for Euro 1996, in England, and to third place in the FIFA world rankings. However, he departed upon receiving his biggest offer yet as Inter Milan came callling. Hodgson joined with Inter bottom of Serie A but inspired them to finish 7th and qualify for the UEFA Cup. The next season he guided Nerazzuri to a third-place finish but left to join Blackburn.
Hodgson’s first season at Blackburn saw them finish 6th in the Premier League in 1997/98, before being linked to the vacant Germany and England roles. But ultimately his time with Blackburn went downhill from there, which he claims tarnished his reputation in the country.
A return to Inter as a technical director and a spell back in Switzerland with Grasshoppers were followed by lifting the Danish title with Copenhagen in 2001 – with a side that previously finished 7th and 8th. Brief spells with Udinese, UAE and Norwegian side Viking led to his appointment as manager of Finland, with whom he came to close to qualifying for Euro 2008.
Hodgson had turned down a return to England with Fulham in May 2007, but took the Premier League strugglers up on their next offer 7 months later. He secured a miraculous survival then led Fulham to its highest-ever league finish the next season. He also led the club to its first-ever European Final in the Europa League in 2010, where they lost to Atletico Madrid. That led to him winning the LMA Manager of the Year and a big move.
He was appointed manager of English giants Liverpool in the summer of 2010 but a poor start to the season saw him sacked in January, before joining West Brom the following month. He won five and drew five of his first 12 games, including beating Liverpool, and led the Baggies to their best league finish in over 30 years. He kept West Brom in the top tier for three years, which led to potentially his biggest job yet.
That saw him replace Fabio Capello as England manager in May 2012. He immediately took his home nation to Euro 2012, where they lost on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals. He then led England to an unbeaten qualification for the 2014 World Cup, which he described as his proudest moment in football, but a disappointing performance saw them knocked out in the group stages for the first time since 1958. Hodgson survived, but couldn’t do so after a poor Euro 2016 performance in which England were knocked out by Iceland.
After a year out of the game, Hodgson returned to management with his boyhood club Crystal Palace in September 2017. Palace had lost their first four games without scoring under Frank De Boer, then lost the next three, but Hodgson led them to survival in a solid 11th place – which was the first time any team had lost the first seven games and survived. The next season, he led Palace to their highest Premier League points tally of 49 and became the oldest manager ever to manage in the division.
Now 73, Hodgson this week announced he’ll be leaving Palace at the end of the season with the club safely in mid-table on 44 points with one game remaining.
Hodgson’s career summarised
In his 45-year career, Hodgson managed 17 clubs in 7 countries and 4 national teams. He has won 9 league titles and 4 cup competitions and twice been runner-up in the UEFA Cup / Europa League. After 1,212 matches as a manager (from data available, which may be hazy during his early days in Sweden) he’s won 526, drawn 334 and lost 352, winning 42.7% of games across his career. That includes a 58.9% win ratio as England manager, which has only been bettered by 7 managers.
Not too many managers – especially English managers – enjoy a career of such longevity with so many different clubs in different countries. And, while Hodgson’s career lacks a title in a major country, there’s no denying he’s had a wonderful career that any FM journeyman would delight in having on their CV.
So here’s to Roy Hodgson, one of the greatest English managers in history – and the 9th most successful ever, according to Football Manager.
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