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Hodgson and Fulham deserve the acclaim

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Phil McNulty | 07:09 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

At Craven Cottage

When Roy Hodgson arrived at his post-match media briefing to be greeted by a warm burst of applause, it was confirmation that Craven Cottage had witnessed something extraordinary.

This impromptu ovation for Hodgson was not the result of misplaced jingoism or partisanship after Fulham's win over SV Hamburg on a magical night by the Thames.

It was delivered out of respect and admiration for the man who has resurrected a proud old club and given Fulham's fans the chance to live out a dream as they prepare to face Atletico Madrid in their first European final on 12 May.

While Jose Mourinho set off on a zig-zagging sprint around the Nou Camp to celebrate Inter Milan's passage into the Champions League final, Hodgson marked his landmark victory in the Europa League semi-finals by calmly navigating a Craven Cottage pitch littered with celebrating Fulham players and staff - many lying prostrate and emotionally drained - with his hand in his pocket.

And he still found time amid the tumult to offer consolation to the beaten Hamburg players. Such a gesture is a mark of the man.

Roy Hodgson shakes hands with the beaten Hamburg boss Ricardo MonizHodgson shakes hands with the beaten Hamburg boss Ricardo Moniz. Photo: PA

If Hodgson's celebrations, at least in public, were typically measured, Fulham's fans were far from calm and collected. As hundreds of drenched and disappointed Hamburg fans gazed into the Thames on their way home, the sounds of songs paying homage to Hodgson drifted loudly across the river from Putney.

And why not? Fulham's last red letter day was the 1975 FA Cup final, which they lost to West Ham at Wembley. Only the hardest of hearts would not have been touched by the sheer joy witnessed at Craven Cottage on Thursday night, especially among older Fulham fans whose jubilation may well have been tinged with disbelief.

Fulham, by Hodgson's own admission, "have looked into the abyss once or twice". Now they can realistically set their sights on winning the Europa League. Atletico Madrid will hold no terrors.

Hodgson's composed and organised demeanour is mirrored in his Fulham team. They struggled for an hour to seriously threaten Hamburg, with Bobby Zamora short of fitness because of an injured Achilles, but at no stage did Fulham show signs of panic, even though Mladen Petric's vicious, first-half free-kick left them requiring two goals.

As Hodgson watched impassively from his technical area, Fulham prodded and probed, fuelled by the self-belief that has previously taken them past teams of the calibre of Shakhtar Donestsk, Juventus and Wolfsburg on this glorious adventure of discovery.

The door to the final was pushed ajar by Simon Davies after 69 minutes and Zoltan Gera banged it down seven minutes later. Fulham's unbreakable spirit had proved too much for Hamburg, with Ruud van Nistelrooy a pale shadow of the tormentor who used to stalk the Premier League.

Even as Craven Cottage was swamped in celebration, Hodgson was the coolest man in this hothouse. The job was done and 14 minutes later he was taking the acclaim again - this time from the media. Who said we had no soul?

It was recognition of what Hodgson has constructed since he arrived at the club in December 2007, the best Christmas present Fulham has ever had. The transformation has not been remarkable, it has been more besides.

Hodgson has applied sound common sense, dragging Fulham from the edge of relegation to the Championship and into a position where their Premier League status is not in question - and arriving in a major European final simply embellishes all the other superb work.

He has used all the experience gained in a nomadic career to play the markets and fashion a fine side that has showcased all its qualities in this European run. He has proved the master of renewal, breathing new life into the careers of Danny Murphy, Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera.

And his reconstruction of Zamora's game, to such an extent that he was watched by England coach Fabio Capello again on Thursday, has been a masterpiece of man-management and coaching. Zamora's response to the promptings and support of his manager has also done the striker great credit.

Murphy is the brains of the operation on the field, while the dominant figure of Brede Hangeland is further testimony to Hodgson's shrewd movements in the transfer market.

As Hodgson took his leave of the turf with Craven Cottage in a state of chaotic celebration, a rather more flamboyant figure was bringing up the rear in the shape of chairman and owner Mohamed Al Fayed.

Mark Schwarzer celebrates victory for FulhamMark Schwarzer celebrates Fulham's famous win. Photo: AP

It may appear, to the untrained eye, to be an unlikely partnership but the pair have dove-tailed perfectly. In his programme notes, Hodgson wrote: "The chairman has been hugely supportive throughout the campaign and it would be magnificent if, by the time the evening is over, we could be taking him to his first cup final."

Consider it done.

Fulham's fans bought into what was required, too, never wavering in their conviction that their side would prevail. "Stand Up If You Still Believe" was sung with gusto at regular intervals while "Stand Up For Roy Hodgson" is now a Craven Cottage standard.

Their belief was rewarded - again - and it was Hodgson who took the standing ovation at the end.

Al Fayed hinted before the game at one small dark cloud hovering over Fulham's glory - namely that Hodgson's achievements have been so impressive that he might attract admiring glances from elsewhere.

Hodgson can be relied on to focus firmly on Fulham, but there is no doubt he will put himself in the frame for big jobs with results like this. Al Fayed is confident he will stay, but all of Fulham will know they possess a much-coveted manager.

He even found space for some timely public relations, designed to soothe Hamburg's disappointment by praising the club, the stadium and the city ahead of the final - which will do Fulham's battle to claim the support of the neutrals no harm.

Fulham's fans streamed away into the night with a growing sense of destiny about this Europa League campaign. A force is with them, whipped up by Hodgson.

Glory awaits in Hamburg in less that a fortnight. Victory there, and the warm applause for Hodgson might just turn into a standing ovation.

You can follow me throughout this season at and join me on Facebook.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Arise Sir Roy...

  • Comment number 2.

    Superb blog Phil. Couldn't disagree with a word there.
    This has really been a fairy tale story & regardless of what Fulham do in the finals, I think Roy Hodgson has done enough to be crowned as the Manager of the Year. Can you suggest one man who deserves it more??

  • Comment number 3.

    It would be a real shame for Fulham for this run to end in defeat however Atletico as you quite rightly say Phil should hold no fears. They have beaten better sides on route to the final.

  • Comment number 4.

    It is amazing to see how a manager can make or break not just games, but also respect for a club. All this for Roy is much deserved. A class act. As a united fan, even when we were beaten soundly by Fulham last year, I was more annoyed at my own team that at Fulham. That is the kind of respect Hodgson brings out.

    Yday even after Hamburg scored, I knew that Fulham would win. Their name is written in this year's Europa League Club and that is a FACT.

    Compare this with good'ol Rafa and you see the difference.

  • Comment number 5.

    When I saw them one nil down I felt gutted for them but then remembered Juventus. The spirit of that team is just incredible. Proud to have Fulham representing the PL and England in the final! You have the support of the neutrals no doubt and probably even Chelsea too!

  • Comment number 6.

    Roy Hodgson is someone that football should be proud of. Watching the game last night, I couldn't help but feel it was like a return to the 'good old days' of football, a sport which, for better or worse, has been altered significantly by money. This indeed is a fairytale, but I don't see why it is a shock, Fulham are a good, well organised side and most defintely deserve to be in the final. Congratulations all around to everyone at Fulham.

    p.s. Vote Hodgson.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done Fulham and Roy Hodgson has shown other managers of bigger clubs (Mourinho, Benitez, Ferguson and Wenger to name but a few) how to behave with dignity, sportsmanship and act like a true gentleman in both victory and defeat.

    Surely they are going to win it now - the gods are smiling down on them.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great for Fullam, the fans, players and Mr all deserve a ManUtd fan i want to say well done and i shall be cheering you on in the finals....i hope you complete this wonderful run....Mr Hodgson is pure class and showed it at the end of the game....Fullam fans enjoy this it is yours

  • Comment number 9.

    Who would have watched Liverpool on TV last night when Fulham V Hamburg was on offer - albeit buried away on ITV4. What a fantastic result, what a fantastic team. Forget the so-called Big Four, Fulham is the club most neutrals would want as their local team. (Oh, and well done, Phil, for resisting the urge to have a pop at Liverpool, although they richly deserve it (or is that still to come?). How Benitez has the cheek to say he needs five more players to be competitive, after the money he's spent, is beyond me. Bye, bye, Mr B; your arrogance won't be missed with the likes of Wenger and Ferguson still around next season.)

  • Comment number 10.

    A superb performance last night by the mighty Cottagers.Woy has worked wonders since taking over at Fulham.I thought his post match interview was a real demonstration of class when he thanked the fans for the support they showed during that dark start to his managerial career at Fulham.Last of a dying breed.

  • Comment number 11.

    My arms are still aching, my vocal chords are shot, and I the ringing in my ears shows no sign of abating. But I wouldn't trade that for all the tea in China. If the Juventus game was electric, last night was something else.

    Having been to every round of the Europa League this season, never did I think that on that balmy August evening when we started this campaign back at the Cottage that Fulham would get to the final.

    Having disposed of such illustrious names as Shakhtar (the holders), Juventus and the Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg, would anyone bet against Atletico Madrid being added to that list?

    Never mind Roy Hodgson for Manager of the Year (that's a given) - if he appears on the ballot paper next week, it might well be Roy Hodgson for Prime Minister.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well done Fulham from a Liverpool fan. Hope you go on and win it now. You should have no problems in the final. You have a team and a manager you can be proud of.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a ps to my last post (12). The greatest compliment I can pay Roy Hodgson is that he reminds me of Bob Paisley.

  • Comment number 14.

    6. At 08:19am on 30 Apr 2010, fraz_afc wrote:

    p.s. Vote Hodgson.


    Totally agree. Hodgson for PM!

  • Comment number 15.

    A sincere congratulation is in order for Fulham!

    Now for all the arrogant Man U, Arsenal & Chelsea fans alike that often say that the 2004 Champions League was the most mediocre, with Porto beating Monaco.

    If Fulham were to win it, would you say the same the 2010 Europa League was the most mediocre in recent history?

    I guess not because Fulham is a British Team.

    Good luck Fulham its nice to see the little man win.

    p.s. By the way Man U we beat you that year.

    Chelsea, Arsenal you have never won the European Cup/ Champions League, now Porto has won it not once but twice.

  • Comment number 16.

    Fantastic result for Fulham and its so nice to see fans of all clubs actually rooting for a Premier League team in Europe. Unfortunately it rarely happens these days with the tribal rivalry that seems to run amongst the big four especially.

    Roy Hodgson has found his niche. A move to a bigger club would probably do his career no good. He has found a club that loves him and if they win against A. Madrid he will be untouchable. Its all a manager can really dream for. Add to this the fact that he seems to be one of the most level headed men in football and I doubt he will be going anywhere. I imagine he can recognise a good thing when it comes along.

    Hodgson's career evidences the benefits of British managers working abroad. Although its the norm for foreign managers to spread their wings in Europe and beyond, there are definitely a lack of British men (managers and players) working outside this country. The experience of another footballing culture (as in all walks of life) can do nothing but good for a managers skill, judgment and knowledge. I think Steve McClaren will come back for Twente a much better coach. Despite the ridicule he has taken he has gone to Holland and done a great job. Maybe a few people in the media might have a different opinion of him (as they did when Hodgson failed at Blackburn) in a couple of years.

  • Comment number 17.

    Excellent blog Phil, I agree with every word. Very, very well done to Fulham Football Club. It has been a crying shame that the TV programmers treated Fulham as "also rans", "unfashionable", "no chancers" and gave them no live time because they were "not the viewer draw like the supposed "best" English teams". They have been proven wrong again. My four best goals of this season? The one's which knocked out two of "The Great Four" and the two Fulham Football Club scored last night.

  • Comment number 18.

    Oh - and Utd fans, can you just grow up and congratulate Fulham and not have a pop at Liverpool - it's not about you or us!

  • Comment number 19.

    Well done Fulham...and as for Mr Hodgson, I was working in Switzerland when he was manager of there national team, taking them to no 3 in the world ( dream on England ).
    When I used to mention his name to my football-mad friends in the UK it was...Roy who?...not any more..

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes a great blog and a great result. So fantastic to see a team winning without all the tantrums and big money involved. You have done British football proud Fulham - best wishes for the final.

  • Comment number 21.

    This so so good for the game of football. It emcompasses all the things that are right about the game. I am so pleased for them. How ironic that all the big English clubs are not in any final and yet there is Fulham going to Germany. Some happy relief last night after that ghastly debate.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well done Fulham, and there are few people in football that deserve it more than Roy!

    I've actually been more excited about Fulhams trials in Europe than my own teams quest for the title, by a fair bit... Just goes to show what a legend that man is...

    Jack - moderated already? Good show!

  • Comment number 23.

    Well done to Fulham and Hodgson. They both deserve this success for their hard work and never-say-die spirit in the European campaign.

    But can we please stop all this over-reaction? Hodgson has done well yes but Fulham are still where they have been for years, a middling premiership team. The only reason he has taken them from relegation candidates to that level is because Lawrie Sanchez was so useless that he took a middling premiership club and made them play so poorly.

    Chris Coleman lead the team to 9th, 13th and 12th before Sanchez took over, Hodgson has managed 7th and probably 11th-13th, is that really such a big improvement?

    Like I said, great for them and him to have this success but let's hold off the knighthoods and calls for England management yet (look how well it went appointing a mid-premiership boss who got his team to the UEFA final last time)

  • Comment number 24.

    Fulham in a European final, who'd have thought it, done without their most expensive player, (Andy Johnson) and with a team made of rejects from other team (no offence meant), just goes to show what a manager can do with a bunch of players who are well organised, know their jobs and want to play for their manager, there appears to be no ego's within the team, I hope Roy does stay with Fulham and make them a force for the next few years , he does indeed put some of the other whining managers to shame, ps, I thought Hamburg were better than Atletico Madrid, so come on Fulham win the cup

  • Comment number 25.

    What a fantastic achievement from Fulham. After the way they have played in this competition, they deserve nothing more than to win it especially when you consider that the other two semi finalist were only there because they failed in the Champions league. The game last night was fantastic, everything you want from a great night of football and a fantastic result to boot. If Hodgson doesn't get manager of the year then something is seriously wrong because what he's achieved is way beyond anything any of the big four have achieved.

    I also watched the end of the Liverpool game and to be honest, it was absolutely appauling. The way Liverpool gave up after Forlan scored was a disgrace and it was almost as if the fans gave up too which shows how much discontent there is at the club.

    I am also going to have a pop at Channel 5 too because since Liverpool came into the competition, they have practically ignored Fulham which considering what they have done in the competition is unforgivable. What would you rather watch, a team with passion and desire or a team with absoutely none!!

    But enough of the negatives. Congrats Fulham, can't wait for May 12th.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hodgson has done a brilliant job no doubt. But some perspective, or even cold water perhaps. All the teams in the competition are mid table teams. While a Final is a final, it's still a long way off champions league standard, this may be why Hodgson was celebrating in a more controlled way. He doesn't have the History tied up with the opposition, nor has he be victimised and ridiculed by them either, so perhaps the relief , or joy, or sense of achievement is just a little less.
    I am hoping to see Fulham push on from this season. At the start I thought they were on for a top 6 finish they did very well but they are not going to make the top 10 and yet they have reached a final. That either says the quality of the premiership is unpredictable and good, or the European competition is sub top standard.
    I think we have seen some changes this year, big changes that have come slowly, it remains to see will they stick but next season, Spurs City Villa, Everton, possibly Fulham could all be battling with the top 3 for places 3 - 6 in the premier league. Now that would be exciting.

  • Comment number 27.

    In a way it is a relief that Liverpool did not win through last night, as Roy's and Fulham's achievement deserves the undilluted praise of the media if for only a short while.

    As a Blackburn fan, Roy is certainly one of the best manager's we had, perhaps ahead of his time at Ewood, trying to introduce wine and pasta to a lager and fish and chips brigade of players, but it is nice to see him bring a likeability and good style of play to Fulham, a club who I always thought were a bit brash previously, due to the chairman.

    I'll be watching the final and cheering Roy and his team on!

  • Comment number 28.

    Pure class, great blog Phil, great you didnt mention the pool. Wonderful for all fulham fans, please Roy come back to blackburn!!

  • Comment number 29.

    I hadn't seen English journalists & fans even mentioning the Uefa Cup in previous years, I'd bet some if not most of them don't even know who was winning it, so I'm a bit surprised they are so bothered about it now all of a sudden, but anyway I along with the rest of Europe rate it and it's headline news everywhere so here goes.

    Fulham always progressed by the skin of their teeth and, other maybe than the Wolfsburg tie, never convinced with their football that they deserve to be there.

    Qualifying round played off the park by the mighty AMKAR PERM on the return leg who had a massive last minute chance to knock them out. Scraped past the groups by the virtue of one goal. Played off the park by Sakhtar and their Brazilians home and away as you'd expect and should've been 4 or 5 behind, and 1st visit (literally) in the opposition box goal. Juventus the tie dead and buried and 2 of the most disgraceful decisions you'll ever see get them back from the dead. And Hamburg did anyone really think Fulham deserved and were the better team, at least Hamburg troubled Schwarzer 4-5 times away, Fulham had ZERO shots on target away and last night in all honesty never looked like scoring, just their only 2 second half chances went in.

    Also faced Roma when their form was rock-bottom, Sahktar in their off-season and Juventus and Hamburg both in turmoil conceding 4 or 5 domestically and changing managers. Oh and they could rest between 5 and 10 players before most games which they can afford to do in their uncompetitive league.

    And overall averaged an impressive 2 shots per game (exaggeration I know).

    So well done but on that basis I fully expect and look forward (not) to a HOOF FEST in the final and Fulham to BORE EUROPE TO DEATH just like when Boro & Rangers somehow reached the final in similar fortuitous circumstances.

  • Comment number 30.

    You're right about a "sense of disbelief" i thought I'd seen it all against Juve and I've been a regular since '64 but I was gobsmacked last night, Woy must be manager of the season now surely and he must have had some teams asking if they could have their players back

  • Comment number 31.

    Really impressed with the effort, application and desire shown by Fulham's players. A couple of things stand out for me:

    As Peter Drury rightly said last night, if Simon Davies' goal had been scored by someone like Messi we'd be banging on about World Class blah blah blah.

    Roy Hodgson has been, for years, an under-rated manager - tainted by his time at Blackburn. Look at the difference sticking with a manager makes.

    There's a good strong base of British players at Fulham - contrast that with Liverpool, Chelsea et al and look at the obvious rapport that they have with their fans. Even the lads from other countries, in most cases, have played for a couple of English clubs before arriving at Craven Cottage - no coincidence there.

    ABove all else, dead chuffed for Hodgson & Fulham - nights like last night and the comeback against Juve are good for football - it shows that money doesn't always rule. I'm not saying that Fulham haven't benefitted from Al Fayed's millions, because they have over the years, but they are run much more prudently and sensibly than the vast majority of clubs and I think that we should all be proud for them.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nice one Phil, good to see Fulham getting the plaudits they deserve.
    Interesting points raised about Wroy and Jose. In one way they are very similar in they have been all over Europe have had success and can speak numerous languages but what a difference in demeanour and levels of modesty.
    It's a shame that Hodgson is more than likely to be too old for the England job once Mr Capello has left the post. It would be fantastic to see our boys go into a Euro Championship or World cup with him in charge, I feel the country would get behind the team more than they already do.
    Lets hope Fulham can do the business in the final.

  • Comment number 33.


    Hodgson took Switzerland to no. 3 in the world...

    ..your point is?..

  • Comment number 34.

    A great win for Fulham, and Hodgeson has done brilliantly to juggle the Europa League commitments with the Premier League, something which many clubs have struggled to do recently.

    It has cost them, as they won't finish in the Europa League places this year, but I think they'll be back defending their trophy next year. Athletico, as far as I can recall, have actually only won 3 games in Europe this season, despite being in the final.

  • Comment number 35.

    don't want to reduce Sir Roy achievement in any circumstance.

    I am only worried that the success of Fulham comes at the back of 100+ millions of debts. Not a sustainable way to run a football team...

    Burnley deserves maybe more credit here...

  • Comment number 36.

    Amazing result by the Cottagers! All the best in the final!

  • Comment number 37.

    Brilliant night for Fulham - what a performance.

    The thing which I think this article captures very well is that Hodgson's demeanour remained pretty much unchanged till the final whistle. When that brutal free-kick went in, Hodgson barely flinched. When Davies finished Bergkamp-like, Hodgson maybe cracked a nod. When Gera reacted quickest and lashed home the winner, Hodgson leaned forward ever so slightly.

    The message to his players, all night, was "do your jobs, stick to the game plan, work your socks off. We can do this."

    And they sure did. 90 minutes of excellence, and hopefully they can find 90 more to bring home some richly deserved silverware.

  • Comment number 38.

    Fantastic. I hope Fulham go on to win it now. Roy Hodgson, take a bow - you deserve it.

  • Comment number 39.

    29. At 09:22am on 30 Apr 2010, nibs wrote:

    I can't be bothered copying in your comments - just get that huge chip of your shoulder sonny - it's going to give you a hunchback!

    Talk about xenophobic!!!!!!! The poor guy has an English fixation.

  • Comment number 40.

    Benitez should learn from Lord Roy Hodgson. With a side containing the likes of Reina!, Gerrard, Johnson!, Carragher!, Mascherano, Benayoun, Kuyt, Torres, Aquilani all he does is complain, complain and complain. A side mind you most managers in the League would kill for!!

    He makes like only his side ever experience injuries! What a laugh. Never mind that Man United didnt have their entire defence in Dec and jan with Carrick and Fletcher in central defense. Nevee mind that Chelsea lost key players to the AFCON, never mind that Spurs lost Lennon and a host of players, Never mind City has to do without Tevez and Adebayor for long spells.

    Contrast to Fulham, with limited resources they've reached the Final, playing a much better brand of football than Liverpool.

    Most laughable of all, Benitez says he wants to 'REBUILD'???????????? Pray, what has he been doing for the past 6 years!!!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    "4. At 08:18am on 30 Apr 2010, King wrote:

    It is amazing to see how a manager can make or break not just games, but also respect for a club. All this for Roy is much deserved. A class act. As a united fan, even when we were beaten soundly by Fulham last year, I was more annoyed at my own team that at Fulham. That is the kind of respect Hodgson brings out."

    I'm also a United fan and I agree. You never feel hard done by being beaten by Fulham because they've become an excellent team with great heart. Every victory they get you feel they deserve it. I've really enjoyed following Fulham through this Europa League campaign as if they were my own team and I really hope they win the final in a fortnight: they certainly deserve it.

  • Comment number 42.

    First and foremost big congratulations to Roy Hodgeson and the Fulham team especially Our ex-players Zolly & Jesus!

    However, please stop this bleeding heart poor club business, its hypocrical to the nth degree. Al Fayed was the original big money owner and has ploughed mountains of cash into the club to drag them from 3rd tier also rans to a European final. Fulham is a smashing club but they were able to do a smash and grab raid for 3 Albion players in recent years because of his wealth.

    The biggest example of this was the match winner, Zoltan Gera, who we wanted to keep but Fulham,rumour has it, were able to offer him at least £15,000pw extra than the Baggies maximum wage! Incidently, Phil, he didn't need to "breath new life" into Zolly's career, as he was doing fine at the Albion. This was typically inaccurate & lazy London media speak!

  • Comment number 43.

    Glad to see them there. Its nice to Skippy gets another shot at the trophy. i really do hope that fulham can go one better than we, Middlesborough, did back in 2006. come on fulham bring home to England a European trophy.

  • Comment number 44.

    Was in a pub in Fulham last night, at the start of injury time the landlord announced that there was a shot for everyone in the pub if Fulham held on. Seeing everyone raise their glasses for Fulham really helped make it a special night.

  • Comment number 45.

    As a Reading fan whose side were relegated on goal difference when Fulham stayed up two years ago I can safely say we hold no grudges against a great old club and manager. Hodgson is a true legend of the game in a time when that word is banded about all too often.

    Personally I think they should be far happier to play Athletico than Liverpool - if it's possible Fulham may still be an unknown quantity to Athletico, whereas Liverpool have been playing (and beating) them regularly for years.

    Well done to Fulham and their manager, players, owner and fans. You deserve a day in the sun.

  • Comment number 46.

    Fantastic result by the cottagers. If they win surely Hodgson must get a knighthood for his achievement some time in the near future. He is the spirit of Bobby Robson. Fantastic to see the success he has had this season with few resources. I know noone who would begrudge a minute of his success. I would say he should be England manager were it not such a poisoned chalice. Should be central to the England world cup bid - he is possibly the best ambassador this country has for the game. I expect him to easily win SPOTY manager of the year.

  • Comment number 47.


    Hodgson took Switzerland to no. 3 in the world...

    ..your point is?..

    Did he? I wasn't aware of that, though any system that claims the Suiss were ever 3rd best in the world is clearly bananas.

    either way it's got nothing to do with Fulham. International and club management are entirely different beasts, requiring different skill sets, the only commonality is that of formulating an on-field game plan, everythign else is different.

  • Comment number 48.

    well done fulham !
    Shame your gonna lose to atleti in the final though ! lol

  • Comment number 49.

    What is undisputed is that this is a fantastic achievement for both club and coach and is a dream for the long-standing Fulham fans who have followed the club through thick and thin and ignored the noisy neighbours. It is nice to see unfashionable clubs having success in Europe, particularly those which have not parachuted into the Europa League through the Champions League trap-door. All credit to Roy and his players who have done it the hard way with a lot of class. My only gripe with some of the threads is the allusion to Fulham operating on a shoestring. Sorry, but no team embedded in the EPL comes into that category when compared to clubs outside the big four nations. By comparison with smaller football nations they are the multi-millionaires, especially when one considers the big boys from the major nations are expecting to be playing Champions League exclusively. Any EPL team playing in the Europa League will be amongst the favourites along with those clubs from Spain, Italy and Germany and a few emerging from Russia. The fact that Fulham have overcome several clubs from those leagues is testament to their achievement which as I say should not be underestimated and I sincerely hope they win the final which they have reached the hard way. Hodgson has always been a class act and is a throwback to the times when football managers respected each other and the game. He puts Ferguson, Wenger and Benitez to shame. Good luck Fulham - hope you can pull it off.

    ps Dundee United reached the UEFA cup final in 1987 with a team full of Scots whilst operating on a comparitive shoestring - contrast with current Fulham squad.

  • Comment number 50.

    29. At 09:22am on 30 Apr 2010, nibs wrote: Nothing worth reading.

    It would seem that nibs has some kind of problem with Fulham getting to the final.

    How can you say that they only had 2 second half chances? Did you miss the Zamora chance in the first 2 minutes? Why comment on a game that you so obviously didn't see???

    As a QPR fan, and rival of Fulham, I hope they go on and win it, if only to make my dad the happiest man in the world!!! I've watched them everytime they've been on the box, and despite being outplayed in a few of the games, they have always held that team spirit together, and pulled through. Oh, how other English teams could learn from that!

    Go on Fulham, do it for England!

  • Comment number 51.

    A great result for Fulham and Roy. Agree 100% Phil. Even when Roy 1st arrived and Fulham were in trouble they were never a team to park the bus or be overly physical to intimidate the oppostion. They have always been a creative footballing side and the belief Roy has instilled into veterans players and his new acqusitions has made them a very hard team to beat. As a United fan there are plenty of sides in the Premier League where you expect to be guaranteed all 3 points whenyou play, Fulham is not one of those. Fulham are deserving of their final considering the teams they have had to beat along the way, and I hope they can do it and make history. Good luck Roy and Fulham.
    P.S, It was sweet to see a United oldboy, Diego Forlan, put the final nail in Liverpools season and probably Rafas time at Merseyside.

  • Comment number 52.

    Massive congratulations to Fulham and Roy Hodgson - what an incredible and fully deserved achievement! Definitely going to be cheering them on in the final now. Come on Fulham, you can do it for England, and for Roy!

    To change the topic slightly, I was outraged to hear that the FA were considering allowing Man City to sign an emergency keeper (of course, they now HAVE allowed them to). I don't know the politics or even the law behind this, but surely this should not have been allowed? City had loaned out Joe Hart for their own benefit - no doubt Birmingham are paying them for his services, and also Hart gains valuable experience and form... both of benefit to City. They chose to let Hart go on loan so it's their fault he's not available as a backup. Their next choice of keeper is also injured. Harsh luck, but these things happen. And so we come to Gunnar Nielsen. He is an international keeper, and played 17 minutes at the end of the Arsenal game. He is 22 - which although being young for a keeper, is hardly young enough to make him an inexperienced youth. If he is good enough for City to put him on the bench for the Arsenal game, knowing full well an injury to Shay Given would make him the number 1 keeper for the rest of the season, then why is he not good enough to do exactly that when Given DOES get injured? It's not like City have been left with no keepers, and are being forced to play a defender as a keeper for the rest of the season. This is a player who plays in net for his (albeit small) country. For a start, asking for an emergency keeper is going to destroy his confidence, but more importantly I don't at all understand how City were granted this request, seeing as they have a perfectly fit and keen keeper to play. If we go back in the season, were Arsenal allowed to sign a strike when they had an injury crisis? No. Were United allowed to sign a defender when they had an injury crisis? No. And if memory serves me (which perhaps it might not), in these situations midfielders had to fill in because of the paucity of players who usually play this role. CITY HAVE A KEEPER! When Chelsea had a similar keeper crisis recently, they promoted an academy player to the bench so he would step in if Turnbull got injured. This is what City should have done. I just think it is outrageous they have been allowed to sign an emergency keeper, especially when one of the reasons they were allowed was quoted to be because of the difficult run-in, where they are playing two of their direct rivals. So what? Tough luck. It doesn't matter which games are left. Quoting that as a reason for an emergency keeper loan smacks of bad sportsmanship and even cheating.

    Rant over. :) But I wanted to see if people agreed, or if there's a rule I didn't know about etc etc. And by the way I don't support any of the clubs vying for 4th spot, so this isn't bias which has triggered this post, I just think it's completely unfair on Villa, Spurs and even Liverpool, as well as Arsenal, United and Chelsea, who had to cope earlier on in the season!

  • Comment number 53.

    Well done Fulham. Im a Man U fan but really enjoyed watching Fulham last night, fantastic effort and very much hope you beat Atletico in the final.

    Well done Forlan too, made last night very sweet indeed.

  • Comment number 54.

    What is it with football fans and short memories? A certain Steve McLaren led an even more unfancied team to the final of the same competition a meer 4 years. No mention of this at all Phil? Then again wouldn’t really suit a journo to praise him right?

    I’ve heard in the media today Roy Hodgson for England? If that’s the case and he does as bad as McLaren will he too be vilified?

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil has once again written an excellent blog. Congratulations to the Fulham players, football manager and the fans.

    All the very best in the finals in Hamburg.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 56.

    As a QPR fan, I never thought I'd catch myself cheering on Fulham (even against Chelsea). Last night changed all that.

    Cracking job by Roy Hodgson and his well-constructed team of passionate professionals. Compare and contrast with the expensively-assembled squad of averageness managed by an overpaid one-season wonder which failed to meet Fulham in the final.

  • Comment number 57.

    A fantastic achievement for both Fulham and Roy Hodgson.

    It just goes to show what a good manager Roy is to take the team to the final beating some of the finest clubs in Europe along the way.

    It also goes to show that a managers decision to use his squad and rest a number of players before a key game in a teams season is justified.

    I won't hold my breath in waiting for you to acknowledge this Phil however it doeas seem strange that you felt the need to criticise Wolves when they did this earlier in the season.

  • Comment number 58.

    Well done to Fulham. Amazing achievement that started so long ago and continued with some big names demolished along the way (The holders, The Old Lady and the German Champs). Fulham deserve to be in the final and everyone in the UK should get behind them and support the only British Team in a European Final!

    Dunno why Benitez always complains when he loses and Liverpool get knocked out of a competition. His excuse of injuries and not enough squad depth comes to mind. I think Athletico Madrid will be better opponents for Fulham than Liverpool!

  • Comment number 59.

    There seems to be some surprise they reached the final. However in the cold light of day judging by the progress they made in each round, I don't really see why anyone is shocked.

  • Comment number 60.

    Amazing result for Fulham. Fully deserved, well done and good luck for the final!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    re 29 "nibs" : What a bitter, ungracious comment. Totally uncalled for. You sound like a politician, or worse still, a whingeing Big 4 manager when his team has lost.I wonder who you support.
    Fulham's achievement is a marvellous story and is reward for their hard work, team spirit and commitment and for their manager, whose humble, dignified reaction to this should be a lesson for the Mourinhos of this world.

  • Comment number 62.

    Good article Phil. I am really pleased that Fulham have managed to get to the final. They are probably the one other Premier League side, other than Villa, that I like to see do well. Hodgson and the players deserve great acclaim. Manager of the Season, no doubt. I was at the Cottage for the game against Wolfsburg and Fulham played very well. When they conceded in the last minute, I thought it would be disastrous for them but their performances away on the continent have been admirable - particularly defensively. What hit me the most was the good spirited nature of the Fulham fans and the lack of threat that there was, when compared to other top-flight grounds. This friendly little club deserves credit. Well done Fulham.

  • Comment number 63.

    Nibbs is you are not wumming I would ask why bother watching any football as clearly anyone who wins didn't deserve it due to mitigating circumstances and a whole shed load of , IF BUT. You mate are clearly an IFBUT and that is the first refuge of the sore loser.

  • Comment number 64.

    Maybe someone at the bbc will corrrect me, possibly mr McNulty himself but Fulham were a funny beast before Hodgson took over. In the season he took charge and they finished 17th I remember hearing a funny old stat. That year if the side that had scored first had won the match every time, the top 5 would have been the same but Fulham would have been 6th.

  • Comment number 65.

    Top marks and well done to Fulham. Just about every fan in the country, whoever they support, will be behind you. Great story. All the best in the final.

  • Comment number 66.

    Fulham = Pride of the Premier League. Well done lads

  • Comment number 67.

    vic777 - quite agree with you mate about Man City goalkeeper. Its another nonsense decision by the FA. We've had no defence to speak of for a while ending up with Fletcher and Carrick pairing up in central defence. Loans weren't an option for us so why should they be for City.

  • Comment number 68.

    Can somebody please pinch me. At least England only sung about 30 years of hurt.....we have had 130 years......Hodgson for Prime Minister

  • Comment number 69.

    Can anyone answer this?

    If Fulham go on to win the europa league final will they be allowed to qualify for the competition next season even though they won't finish in the top 7? Seem to remember it happened for liverpool in the champions league a few seasons back and wondered if that particular occurence triggered a change in the rules?

    Answers on a post card...

  • Comment number 70.

    Collie21, I think your summary of the oppostion Fulham have beaten is a tad harsh. Yes some of them hav not hit the heights of last season but they have some tremendous players.

    Juventus are Juventus and will be a force again next year (maybe not if Benitez goes there)

    Shakhtar are the Europa League Holders

    Wolfsburg are the German champions

    Hamburg were challenging for the title before falling away terribly of late.

    Go Fulham!

  • Comment number 71.

    To change the topic slightly, I was outraged to hear that the FA were considering allowing Man City to sign an emergency keeper (of course, they now HAVE allowed them to). I don't know the politics or even the law behind this, but surely this should not have been allowed?
    As you have proved, you DONT know the law, so dont comment on it. It is perfectly allowable and plenty of other clubs have done so in the past. Every time a club is down to one pro keeper they have been allowed to take another on emergency loan, happens all the time in lower divisions.

    Yet more ignorance displayed by you in comparing it with Chelsea. They DID NOT PROMOTE AN ACADEMY PLAYER, Rhys Taylor is 20/21 years old and has been a registered pro with Chelsea for several years now since his academy days.

  • Comment number 72.

    AFC fan in peace here.

    A fantastic run by Fulham, and fair play to them for the journey they've had. I've always rated Roy Hodgson as a manager and his shrewd man-management seems to have won over not just the Fulham fans (do correct me if I'm wrong here by all means) but also the neutrals. It's warming to see in my eyes and I really hope that they go on to win the EL and take the game to Atletico.

    If you'd have told me that coming up against Roma, Juventus, Wolfsburg, Hamburg and Shakthar Donetsk in the same competition, I'd have replied that Fulham probably would have struggled. Considering they have done I'm pleasantly surprised that they've done so well to get to where they are now.

    And, to go off topic:

    #52 - Vic777
    [i]If we go back in the season, were Arsenal allowed to sign a strike when they had an injury crisis? No.[/i]

    To my knowledge, I don't believe that Arsenal made a request to sign a forward in the first place, nor did Man United in their defensive crisis (if you can call it that - they did well enough as it was) and nor did Chelsea when their players were called up to the ACoN. I'm sure I've seen a fair number of topics on the 606 boards for Citeh and a fair number of the respective clubs' (Arsenal/MU/Chelski) voicing similar words.

  • Comment number 73.

    #40 Dapsy

    [i]"Most laughable of all, Benitez says he wants to 'REBUILD'???????????? Pray, what has he been doing for the past 6 years!!!!!"[/i]

    It seems like he's been waiting tables on the side and blaming the media for his "silhouette" getting bigger. ;)

  • Comment number 74.

    It is a great achievement to reach a European final but other British managers (McClaren, O'Neill) have done this too. What separates Roy Hodgson is his class, his composure, his apparently unerring ability to say the right thing when a mic is shoved under his nose. His comments are thoughtful, articulate, smart and gracious. I see him as someone who could represent his country either as a team coach or as an administrator when he no longer wishes to coach. We should be proud to have such fine men working in English football.

  • Comment number 75.

    "63. At 11:00am on 30 Apr 2010, collie21 wrote:
    Nibbs is you are not wumming I would ask why bother watching any football as clearly anyone who wins didn't deserve it due to mitigating circumstances and a whole shed load of , IF BUT. You mate are clearly an IFBUT and that is the first refuge of the sore loser.


    First time I've heard of an IFBUTT but I like it!

  • Comment number 76.

    Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal all failed to make it in Europe this season and Fulham have.A fantastic performance, and sure some fans will say they wouldn't have done it in the Champions League, they were not in it but in the Europa cup they've beaten the best there is in teams like Juventus.They have reached a final and totally deserve it,the only British team to do so and I hope they win the final as well.I'm not a Fulham fan but you've got to give them team of the year in England because they've done it without the big bucks to spend also one of the best managers in Europe...Roy Hodgson we salute you, you've saved British football in Europe this year.

  • Comment number 77.

    Excellent blog Phil and rightly acknowledging the outstanding work Hodgson has done.

    However, I think for Fulham, this is as good as it will get. It will never get any better than this. I hope they win it. But I think Hodgson would see this as his parting gift to the club before he moves onto the final project of his career at a bigger club.

    I'm sorry this sounds harsh, but the squad is littered with players who are the wrong age of 30 and performing in a way they have never done before. This can only last so long. They will find it difficult to keep hold of Hangeland. Murphy, Davies, Zamora and Duff will begin their wind down. Schwarzer defies his age...but for how long?

    Hodgson is an intellegent and innovative manager, he will know he cannot build another squad to match this with Fulhams resources.

    I hope, as all of england will that they win. What an achievement. Then, they must move on. With a new manager, and new ideas.

  • Comment number 78.

    Roy Hodgson showed the world, post match celebrations can be done by a dignified way.
    Hope moroninho watched it...

    Go Fulham Go!!

  • Comment number 79.

    That's how you do it! Amazing stuff, nights like this are the reason we love football.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm genuinely pleased for Fulham, and almost pleased for London-based sports journalists.

    But I also think that if the Premier League is really as good as many say, then we ought to be expecting these sort of results more often.

    In this competition, English clubs outside of the "top four" are often pitted against teams who are also not the best teams in their own country.

  • Comment number 81.

    Fantastic result, may it continue in the final.

  • Comment number 82.

    The Englishman is back !! Thank God !! Clegg only, enough sacred and ber cows time for Boris Johnson.

  • Comment number 83.

    Atletico will destroy Fulham in the final. Fulham have been whack in the league this season and Forlan, Aguero, Simao and Reyes will tear Fulham a new one. The fairytale will end, mark my words.

  • Comment number 84.

    Roy Hodgson has been nothing short of a Miracle Worker. After the debacle of Lawrie Sanchez that left us staring relegation in the face, what he has done is absolutely fantastic. Supporting Fulham comes with its fair share of knocks and jibes. We learn to live with that, but just how proud were we of our team last night. Zamora, Murphy, Gera, Schwarzer, Dempsey et al individually are good players, collectively Roy has got them playing superbly, patient and Self-believing. A great testament to a great man. Thank You Roy Hodgson

  • Comment number 85.

    Phil what a great blog. I was there last night and this blog captures the emotions perfectly.

    Phil do you think we can/will win it?

  • Comment number 86.

    If Fulham go on to win the europa league final will they be allowed to qualify for the competition next season even though they won't finish in the top 7

    Yes there is a place for the Europa winners in next season's competition, I believe they would be unseeded though.

  • Comment number 87.

    Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal all failed to make it in Europe this season and Fulham have.

    Errr no, reaching the Champions League KO stages is a far greater achievement than winning the Europa League

  • Comment number 88.

    This article actually made me cry a little bit!

  • Comment number 89.

    Go on to win it, Fulham. The whole of England is rooting for you. A fully deserved place in the finals.

  • Comment number 90.

    All the best in the final boys. Restores my faith in football...

  • Comment number 91.

    As a BORO fan I'd like to wish Mark Schwarzer all the best for the UEFA final.

    Just curious as to how many games Fulham will complete this season. When BORO got to the UEFA final in 2006 we completed 64 games that season,(YUP, 38 Prem, 15 UEFA Cup, 8 FA Cup and 3 League Cup) and won nothing. C'est la vie

    Come on you big Ozzie!

  • Comment number 92.

    nibs - Bitter? And then some!

    Someone on here once wote about you "nibs - pure comedy".
    And comedy is always funnier when it's unintentional.

    Seriously, get some help.

  • Comment number 93.

    "87. At 12:12pm on 30 Apr 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal all failed to make it in Europe this season and Fulham have.

    Errr no, reaching the Champions League KO stages is a far greater achievement than winning the Europa League"

    United fan but I have to disagree. If Fulham win the final they'll have a title and a trophy in their cabinet. United, Arsenal and Chelsea will simply be also-rans, or to put it another way: losers.

  • Comment number 94.

    Man U fan here and have to say a GIANT well done to Fulham for getting to the final... They deserve every moment.. They have beat some real giants in the run to the final and it's a great acheivement. The fans must be so excited... I really hope they can now get over this final hurdle and beat Atheltico in the final. I have to say they A Madrid haven't been to great so far and Fulham JUST fancy there chances... Still A Madrid do have a fantastic team and I hope Fulham give them no respect and do the business like they have done to get to the final....

    GOOD LUCK FULHAM (and Fulham fans I heard the beer over there is dam gooooooood!!! Enjoy)

  • Comment number 95.

    Well done indeed to Fulham, and it is good to see that partisanship is put aside to support the only English team left in European competition. However, had the roles been reveresed and Liverpool won and Fulham lost, i wonder how many Man Utd, Arsenal fans would be coming forward saying well done and wishing Liverpool luck in the final?! ;)

    That is a slight aside though - the focus has to be on Fulham's acheivement, made all the more remarkable as Hodgeson has done it with limited spending power and good man management - he has assembled a very competant team, and managed to get players often considered surplus to requirements at other clubs to ressurect themselves. I would definitely agree that he should be the manager of the year.

    One player i have always admired it Danny Murphy, why on earth did Liverpool get rid of him?! He often reminded me of Paul Scholes, and was a scourge of Man Utd on several occasions. Looking at the Liverpool midfield this season, they really could have used a player like him....

  • Comment number 96.

    I still cannot believe that Fulham beat Hamburg. Its an incredible achievement for a side who, 2 years ago were 10 to 1 ON to go down at one point. Hodgson deserves every credit that goes his way. He is a man who goes about his job quietly and with humility. As you said Phil, whilst Mourinho was running around the Nou Camp like a headless chicken, Hodgson was shaking the hands of the Hamburg players and consoling the manager.

    He deserves all the plaudits and Fulham deserve to win the Europa League. They had an incredibly tough draw, playing Roma and Basle. No one gave them a chance against Shaktar and they delivered. No one gave them a chance against Juve and they delivered. Wolfsburg, they delivered and Hamburg, they delivered. I would bet that, every European (other than the Spaniards) that have paid attention to the Europa League will be rooting for Fulham; the little club with the passion and determination to drive them forward.

    Whilst many fans will belittle this second tier competition, if Fulham win it, I highly doubt they will care. They were the team that were meant to finish outside the qualification of the group stage. They were the team that were meant to lose to the "better" sides of Shaktar, Juve, Wolfsburg and Hamburg. They are the team that are meant to lose to At Madrid.

    Good luck to Fulham. If there ever was a team that deserve to win, its them.

  • Comment number 97.

    Well done to Fulham from a Chelsea fan in Hamburg. When the draw was made I told the local fans that this was not good for Hamburg against a very tough to beat Fulham. First 60 minutes were frankly too comfortable for HSV, and I could not see where a Fulham goals would come from. Once Fulham scored howver, HSV had no reaction. I could not believe how long it took Roy to replace Zamora who was a liability, however brave he was. I am sure Fulham will get a great welcome here in Hamburg on the 12th.

  • Comment number 98.

    I see some childish comparisions vs. Mourinho. While I agree that Hodgson was calm and dignified in victory, football would be dull, dull, dull if everyone was like that. Pathetic to use this result as an opportunity to have a dig at Jose. Yes he is a very different character, but surely there is a place for ego and passion in football.

  • Comment number 99.

    ...It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the team stumbled, or where the doers of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the team who is actually in the arena; whose faces are marred by the dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if they fail, at least fails while daring greatly; so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.....(FDR)...
    Well done to all at Fulham, do yourselves proud on the glorious 12th...! We all salute you!

  • Comment number 100.

    Wonderful achievement by Fulham. They beat some of the best sides in the competition along the way and should fancy their chances in the final.


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