In the past the Premier League’s manager of the year award has normally been a forgone conclusion with the gaffer who lifts the Premier League trophy at the end of the season usually receiving a second award a couple of weeks down the line. However, with the top flight so tight this season and with so many clubs having good campaigns the award for the best manager might be a little closer than usual. Having read very little about the award until today I would have struggled to have chosen a manager who has stood out amongst the crowd for the entire season.
That was until I saw Clint Dempsey putting forward his boss Roy Hodgson for the award and it clicked that perhaps the former Blackburn Rovers manager did deserve some recognition for his work this season. Let’s face it there would have been very few of us who would have thought that Fulham would be in contention to qualify for Europe this season after their Houdini style escape from the drop last time out.
The turn around has been nothing less than remarkable, working with limited funds and keeping a lot of the same players he had last season Hodgson has turned Craven Cottage into a fortress. The Cottagers have the third best home record in the league and this season have beaten the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal on their own patch, upsetting all the football odds in the process. Away from home they have continued to struggle but have become a tough nut to crack.
Mark Schwarzer has enjoyed an excellent season for Fulham, brought in by Hodgson during the summer, and has kept 14 clean sheets for the side. Brede Hangeland has become hot property in the Premier League with Arsenal reported to be interested in the central defender who was slaughtered by television pundits when he first came to the club last season. The whole spine of the team is strong with Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora working well together up top since they joined the club.
Hodgson has proved that if you get the basics right and get the side playing for each other then you can’t go far wrong. They may not be the most spectacular side to watch but you can’t deny how well they have done this year. If Fulham do secure that last Europa League spot then the Premier League should take their heads out of their backsides and take a look at another club in west London that doesn’t wear blue. Only one manager has received the award when they haven’t won the league, that was George Burley at Ipswich, and Roy Hodgson certainly gets my vote to become the second.