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Premier League: Hodgson a good Watford fit but he'll do it the hard way

Roy Hodgson has made a somewhat surprise return to the Premier League after Watford turned to the vastly-experienced manager to try to keep them up following the totally predictable quickfire sacking of Claudio Ranieri. But is the now-74-year-old up to the task?

Hodgson clearly has his fans in the English game and there's no denying he did a good job in charge of Fulham between 2007 and 2010.

However, that was over a decade ago, now, and few England fans remember his stint leading the Three Lions for four years between 2012 and 2016 with fond memories.

Some England supporters may even go as far as saying that Hodgson's tenure resulted in painful, negative football and ended - probably a year later than it should have done - in arguably the lowest point since a Graham-Taylor-led squad failed to make USA '94 when Roy's boys suffered that embarrassing defeat against Iceland in Euro 2016.

Liverpool nightmare, Palace positives

Furthermore, the less said about his time managing Liverpool in a six-month spell in 2010 the better, but he was at least able to dig in and do an admirable job at Crystal Palace in his most recent post, guiding them to their joint-best-ever points tally in the top flight in the 2018-19 campaign

It was thought the much-travelled boss would retire after his exit from Selhurst Park at the end of last term but the chance to pit his wits against the best managers in the English top flight once again has seemingly proved too good to turn down, although it would be a huge surprise if he remains in situ at Vicarage Road beyond the summer.

Indeed, some observers will say it might be a surprise if he sees the season out, given the Hornets' penchant for a rapid dismissal when results go downhill.

PositionClubPoints
17Norwich  16
18Newcastle  15
19Watford  14
20Burnley  12

Much-travelled

So why have the Pozzo family opted for Hodgson? Incredibly, he has a 45-year managerial career to look back on and there's no denying his experience. Hodgson has had spells working in Italy with Inter Milan, Sweden with Malmo and Switzerland with Grasshoppers, on top of roles with the Finnish and Swiss national teams, to name just five of his lengthy list of jobs.

The Watford owners have appointed Hodgson before, when he worked with them at Udinese in 2001 in Italy, so know what he can do and the fact they have only given him a contract until the end of the season suggests his brief his simple: Keep us up and then be on your way.

Watford are available at 5/2 to do just that and stay up while, on the other hand, they can be backed at 11/5 to sink further under Hodgson and end the campaign dismally bottom. For those looking at things optimistically, Watford, who currently have just 14 points from 20 games played, are 10/11 to pick up at least 30 points and they are 10/1 to finish higher than Hodgson's old club Palace in the final standings.

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Relegation form

Before his arrival, Watford appeared to be sinking fast. They are now second-bottom and have lost seven of their last eight league games with the 3-0 home humbling at the hands of fellow strugglers Norwich on Friday deemed the final straw for Ranieri.

However, they do still have some quality players and if Hodgson can get them going they may just do enough to stay up. Ben Foster, Moussa Sissoko and Ismaila Sarr are among those you would put in the dependable Premier League-level category, while, in the first half of the season, Emmanuel Dennis hit eight goals to suggest he is more than good enough.

The experienced coach relishes setting his teams up defensively to be resilient, organised and ultimately hard to beat - everything Watford need at the minute - and fans would put up with short-term negative football if results were to improve.

Hodgson seems to struggle when he has taken jobs where expectation levels are sky high - Liverpool and England being two cases in point. However, at the likes of Fulham, West Brom and Palace - where there is a desire to just compete and grind out bottom-half finishes to put it crudely - again what Watford would crave right now - he seems to be able to do a good, steadying job.

So, the Pozzo family may well have made an astute appointment in Hodgson and it's certainly not a stretch to expect another new manager bounce in Hertfordshire over the coming weeks. They are a tempting 12/5 to win at bottom-placed Burnley in Hodgson's first game in charge on 5th February, for example.

More wins may follow, even if they may fall into the attritional category and, from there, Premier League survival could be within reach for Hodgson and the Hornets. Just don't expect too much entertainment along the way.

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