Hodgson deserves plaudits as Fulham gear up for Atletico
Fulham have gone from the bottom tier of English football to a European final in just 11 years.
That really is a startling achievement and praise is rightly being lavished on Roy Hodgson for setting up a dream clash with Atletico Madrid in Hamburg next week.
To put this into perspective, let’s analyse how much Fulham spent on wages and transfers in comparison with their rivals.
Last season Fulham spent £39.3 million on wages -the seventh lowest total of all Premier League clubs.
Their transfer expenses included fees paid for Damien Duff, Kagisho Dikcagoi and Bjorn Helge Riise. Put this in context with other top flight teams involved in European competitions and the achievement becomes even greater.
One has half been expecting Fulham’s bubble to burst at almost every hurdle of this season’s Europa League. There has been an element of a non-league side on a FA Cup run about their march to the final.
Luck can only get a team so far and after claiming the scalps of Shakhtar, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and Italian giants Juventus, Hodgson’s men richly deserve their place in the final.
In an era where it seems that the onus is on teams that spend vast fortunes in the transfer market -no prizes for guessing who is being referred to -it is refreshing to see a team playing effective football, based on a sound tactical system, and being managed by an English coach with an almost impeccable record on the continent.
The dream scenario would be for Hodgson to step into Capello’s shoes as England boss. Only of course after the latter has successfully brought home the World Cup trophy.
First things first though for 62-year-old Hodgson. He must first try to guide Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlittle old Fulham’ to European glory.
It would be all too easy to write them off for this game but the Fulham boss probably doesn’t mind.
After all, that’s what people have been doing throughout the tournament so far and things have worked out rather well.