Veteran Hodgson ready for Watford’s relegation dogfight

LONDON: Coaxed out of retirement at the age of 74, veteran manager Roy Hodgson said he was ready for a "relegation dogfight" during his first press conference as Watford's new manager on Wednesday (Feb 2).

The former England manager appeared to have opted for the sofa when he ended his long and respected coaching career after leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

But after six months away from the buzz of the training ground he has returned to try and save Watford from the drop.

Watford have slumped to 19th place in the Premier League and sacked manager Claudio Ranieri, 70, last month following a 3-0 defeat by fellow strugglers Norwich City.

Hodgson is Watford's third manager this season and becomes the 14th appointment by club owner Gino Pozzo during his nine years in charge of the club.

Having saved other clubs from precarious positions in the past, including West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, Hodgson is confident he can guide Watford away from danger.

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They face bottom club Burnley away on Saturday.

"It's more than possible. I wouldn't have accepted the challenge had I not believed we could help the club stay in the Premier League," Hodgson told reporters.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating and it's important the players react well and they can produce the level of performances that are going to be necessary. This league in terms of relegation is a dogfight."

Watford is the 17th club Hodgson has managed in a coaching career spanning eight countries.

The former Inter Milan and Liverpool manager has agreed to take charge initially until the end of the season, and says he is only focussed on preserving Watford's top-flight status.

"When I was offered this job it was on a very clear mandate, and can you come in and work until the end of season and do what we think you do well and keep us in the Premier League," he said. "It was very easy for me to accept that challenge.

"I don't intend to comment at all on the way the club and the board at the club decide they want to run their club in terms of managers. One thing is very clear, no-one at Watford and the supporters in particular want the club to go down."

Hodgson is joined by his long-term assistant Ray Lewington and believes their chemistry will get 'Watford wheels rolling'.

"It's pretty similar to Fulham. It's going to be a real dogfight this year because the teams at the bottom are all a little bit adrift and with 18 games to go you're very worried that a defeat is going to put you further back," he said.

"They've entrusted Ray and I to mould them into a team to get points from the remaining 18 games."

Artmotion Asia

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