Premier League

Hodgson pledge softens cup final defeat

TEAMtalk Media Group, TEAMtalk Media Group
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Roy Hodgson shrugged off the huge disappointment of Europa League final defeat to reassure Fulham fans he will still be in charge next season.

Diego Forlan's late extra-time goal gave Atletico Madrid a 2-1 victory in Hamburg.

Almost immediately thoughts turned to Hodgson's future because, after an outstanding season, the former Switzerland coach is apparently attracting interest from Liverpool, where Rafael Benitez is on uncertain ground.

UEFA Europa League

Thu., Apr. 22
Atletico 1-0 Liverpool | Recap
Hamburg 0-0 Fulham | Recap
Thu., Apr. 29
Liverpool 2-1 (aet) Atletico | Recap
Fulham 2-1 Hamburg | Recap
Wed., May 12 - FINAL
Atletico 2-1 (aet) Fulham | Recap
Losing Hodgson would be a major blow for Fulham, who have prospered so much under his guidance over the past three seasons.

However, while he did not entirely close the door on a summer exit, it seems he has no plans to move on.

"I have never given my future a moment's thought," Hodgson said. "I have been committed all the time I have been with the club.

"I still have a contract and, as far as I know, this is where I shall be."

Hodgson can take plenty of credit for Fulham's Europa League run, even though it was ended by Forlan's second goal of the night when he turned home Sergio Aguero's cross.

"I couldn't in my wildest dreams imagine we would get here when we started," Hodgson admitted. "But unfortunately that doesn't help.

"Having been here and acquitted ourselves so well, you feel we could have taken a further step.

"It doesn't matter how much comfort I try to find, it is difficult to find joy or enthusiasm because a great performance has gone unrewarded."

It all might have been so different from Fulham if star striker Bobby Zamora had been fully fit.

Unfortunately, the Achilles injury which prevented him accepting a World Cup call-up from Fabio Capello was clearly affecting him, and he was replaced by Clint Dempsey early in the second half.

Zamora did have a hand in Fulham's equaliser as he muscled his way into the box and created the space for Zoltan Gera to cross for Simon Davies' smart finish.

But he did not have any chances himself and Fulham could not exert enough pressure to break Atletico's defences a second time.

"I thought the game was heading for penalties," said Hodgson. "I know they are a lottery but we fancied our chances. Then Forlan popped up with a second and we had no time to recover.

"Everyone wants to finish first but at this level of achievement, after 63 games, second is something we can be very proud of as well."

After scoring an extra-time winner against Liverpool in the semi-final as well, Forlan has certainly had a lot of fun at England's expense in the competition.

It is a quite staggering change from his time at Manchester United, when he was written off.

"I don't know whether people in England are looking at me in a different way, but I am playing well and I am enjoying it," said Forlan, who will be part of the Uruguay squad at this summer's World Cup.

"Manchester United were a really good team, with great players, but it was difficult for me to play.

"I spoke to Sir Alex and told him that I wanted to leave to try and get regular football. That is why I am so happy at Atletico."

Amazingly, for all the money spent by Barcelona and Real Madrid, Atletico are the only Spanish team to win a European trophy this season, a feat Forlan is determined to celebrate.

"We are bringing a title back to Spain," he added. "Hopefully tomorrow we can dress Madrid in red."

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