Roy Hodgson ends retirement to take over as Watford manager

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
  • Former England manager, 74, back in work after eight months

  • Hodgson has signed initial contract to end of the season

Roy Hodgson oversaw training at Watford for the first time on Tuesday and has signed a contract initially until the end of the season as the club look to him to preserve their Premier League status.

The 74-year-old, who has been out of the game since the end of last season when he left Crystal Palace, has taken on a 22nd job in a 46-year managerial career. He has previously worked at 16 clubs in six European countries (including two spells at Internazionale) and with four national teams – Switzerland, the UAE, Finland and, most famously, England. Hodgson won three out of 11 ties across three major tournaments with England – the European Championships of 2012 and 2016, plus the 2014 World Cup. The low point was the Euro 2016 elimination at the hands of Iceland.

At Watford Hodgson has replaced Claudio Ranieri, who was sacked on Monday after only 16 weeks at the club, during which he won two of 13 league games. Watford have taken one point from their past eight in the competition and their run without a victory stands at nine if the FA Cup loss at Leicester is factored in – their longest such sequence since December 2013. They sit 19th in the league but are only two points from safety. Their next game is at bottom-placed Burnley on Saturday week.

Gino Pozzo, the owner, has driven the appointment of Hodgson – with the support of Cristiano Giaretta, the sporting director, and Scott Duxbury, the chief executive. Hodgson worked with the Pozzo family during a strange spell at Udinese in 2001 when he was sacked after 17 matches. Watford say there is the scope to extend his deal.

Hodgson has been joined by his longstanding assistant, Ray Lewington, who managed Watford in the Championship from July 2002 to March 2005. Lewington is well remembered at the club, particularly for the runs to the FA semi-final in his first season and the Carling Cup semi-final in his final one.

Hodgson will be reunited with the goalkeeper Ben Foster and the midfielder Tom Cleverley, whom he capped for England. He had previously worked with Foster at West Brom.

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Watford hope Hodgson can win another battle against relegation from the Premier League. He masterminded successful escapes at Fulham in 2007-08, West Brom in 2011-12 and Palace in 2017-18.

Hodgson had refused to confirm he was retiring after his departure from Palace. “One never knows,” he said. “It is a dangerous thing to do when you still feel good about yourself to start making bold statements about retirement. I am stepping away from football for a while but who knows what the future will be? It is a never-say-never moment.”

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