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Roy Hodgson positive about Roma result

last updated Thursday 05th November 2009, 12:23 PM
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
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WHEN Roy Hodgson took over at Fulham in December 2007 with the club staring relegation in the face, the prospect of a return to the Stadio Olimpico might have seemed at least a job or two down the line.

But if his ongoing contract talks needed any further impetus, Fulham's mere arrival here in the Italian capital ahead of their Europa League clash against Claudio Ranieri's AS Roma provided it.

Hodgson said: "It has been nice for me to come back to Italy where I worked. This is one of those games that shows just how far we have come. A few years ago a tie between Fulham and Roma in Europe is not one many would have envisaged."

Hodgson's current contract runs until June but he repeated yesterday there is an already open dialogue between his advisers and Fulham's chief executive Alistair Mackintosh with regard to an improved deal.

Victory for either side would put tonight's winners in a strong position with regard to qualification according to Hodgson, who had two stints at Inter in the mid-to-late Nineties and another at Udinese.

"If we lose tomorrow it puts Roma in the ascendancy because they also have CSKA Sofia to play. If Roma beat us they will be favourites to go through and we will probably have to win our final game in Basle [in Switzerland on December 16]."

With CSKA Sofia looking out of it and racked with internal problems, having disciplined up to nine of their players for a nightclub incident recently, Basle's lead at the top of the Group E table looks secure.

Hodgson said: "I don't see Basle getting less than nine points, so whichever team loses here is going to be a long way behind them and a fair way behind its opponent."

Roma come into this match having only this weekend halted a miserable run of form that saw them slump into the relegation places and load the pressure on Ranieri. Victory over Bologna at the weekend at least pushed them up to 14th place.

But their form cannot compare with Fulham, who were denied a victory over the Italian club at Craven Cottage with the last kick of the game drawing 1-1, came back from 2-0 down away at Manchester City to draw and thumped Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday.

"Roma are certainly not in the position they want to be at the moment and they've had a topsy-turvy season with a change in coach [six weeks ago] but I'll be surprised if they don't finish in the top six by the end of the season," said Hodgson.

"They could be nervous or they could be extremely determined to show how good they are, so we have to be prepared to face very top competition. But this has been a lucky ground for me in the past.

"The last time I was here [1998-9] we played a game referred to as the Game of the Year in Serie A, my second game in my second spell with Inter - and we won 5-4. I'm not expecting that but I've been here many times and my memories are more positive than negative."

Source Gideon Brooks at Daily Express
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