Hodgson hopes for a happy new year

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson admits 2009 will go down as one of the

best years of his career after signing a new 12-month rolling

contract.

The former Blackburn boss has overseen a major upturn in the

Cottagers’ fortunes since taking over in December 2007 and saving

the club from relegation.

Since then the Londoners have claimed a seventh-placed finish

in the Premier League and are currently lying ninth in the table

having claimed several notable results, including home victories

over Liverpool and Manchester United.

Hodgson told Sky Sports News: “I have probably been in the

game too long, and managed and coached for too long, to remember

off the top of my head if this is my best year.

“But everything that has happened to me in 2009 has been good

as far as I am concerned. I have really enjoyed the job and I am

pretty sure when I look back that 2009 will be up there with one or

two good years I have had in the past.”

But Hodgson warned that his squad must continue their current

high standards if they are to remain a thorn in the side of the top

sides in the Premier League. He continued: “We know where we hope

to go and it’s about keeping up the standards.

“If you are talking about consistent performances and players

knowing their jobs then I would like to think we are stronger now

than we were just six months ago. But in the Premier League if you

start to slide you can quickly find yourself in another division.”

Hodgson has vowed that Fulham will never “sell our soul” in

the pursuit of success. Hodgson, 62, insisted the club must never

set expectations beyond surviving in the top flight.

“Unfortunately, we must emphasise all the time that for us

the important factor is to continue this run of years in the

Premier League,” he told the club’s website. “We must be realistic

that some years are better than others, not necessarily because we

play much worse or work less hard, but because circumstances can

contrive against you.

“At the moment we’re in the top half of the table. Last year

we finished seventh and it would be really good if we can keep that

up.

“But we must be careful not to constantly raise the barrier

because to do that we would have to change the fundaments of how we

work.

“Those fundaments are that we are trying to run the club in a

sensible way and to use the chairman’s money wisely.

“We’re working with what we think are the right elements to

keep this club growing at a level it should be at.

“If we can do better than midtable finishes we’ll be busting

a gut to do that but I’d like to think we will not sell our soul or

alter our principles.”

Fulham appeared destined for relegation when Hodgson

succeeded Lawrie Sanchez in late December 2007. Survival was not

guaranteed until a 1-0 victory over Portsmouth on the final day of

the season but, only 12 months later, Hodgson had steered the club

into Europe.

Superb organisation and a strong work ethic are the hallmarks

of Hodgson’s Fulham but his is no team of journeymen playing route

one football.

Instead, an attractive passing game has established them as

one of the more popular clubs in the Premier League and pundits

have been queuing up to shower praise on their manager. Known for

his technical approach, Hodgson’s 33-year coaching CV includes

stints at Inter Milan and Blackburn while off the pitch he is

considered an articulate and respected voice in the game.

“It’s nice that the club want me to stay and I’ve always made

it clear I’m very happy and enjoying my time here,” he said. “The

club and team are growing constantly. We’re always running as fast

as we can to make certain we don’t ever go backwards.

“It’s nice to know that I’ll be here for the years to come

and I’m looking forward to that work.

“People know me well enough to understand that I will be

doing my best to not let anyone down.

“We will, of course, continue to work tirelessly to ensure

that continued success is enjoyed on the pitch in the years to

come.”