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Hodgson draws on 'magical' Fulham days, 'student of the game' Parker and Loftus-Cheek

23 October 2020

Roy Hodgson has plenty to talk about before Crystal Palace take on Fulham at Craven Cottage.

For one, the manager is returning to a side he enjoyed perhaps the finest moments of his more recent career with: reaching the 2010 Europa League final. He's also coming up against one of his former England players in Scott Parker and taking on ex-Eagle Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

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Asked for his thoughts on Parker's step into management, having worked with the Three Lions' midfielder in 2012 and 2013, Hodgson said:

"I’m not at all surprised he’s [gone into management]. I don’t really think I can say, to be honest with you, that while working with players I’ve ever considered to any great extent: ‘Is this a manager of the future?’ I work on the basis that such good players - in Scott’s case as well, such a student of the game - it would be surprising had he not gone into management.

"I’m very pleased to see him doing so well at the job and I certainly don’t have any surprise whatsoever after his playing career ended that this is the route he’s taken... He’s doing extremely well and has experienced people around him. He’s put together a very good staff in that respect."

Another England player Hodgson knows closely and will face at Craven Cottage - Loftus-Cheek - is similarly well regarded by the Palace boss. He reflected on Fulham's recent form, and pulled out the recently signed 24-year-old specifically:

"The player they’ve signed that I know well, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, is an outstanding signing in my opinion because we have such a high opinion of him here. So we’re expecting a very difficult game.

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"They had a difficult start and seem to be getting better… I’m expecting them to build on the [1-1] Sheffield United result and move steadily up the table because I think they have the quality players to do that."

Finally, Hodgson was asked to reflect on his tenure in SW6 - a spell that led Fulham from near-certain relegation to facing Atlético Madrid in the Europa League final.

"[It was] magical, really. A magical time in every respect. The way the job came about in itself is a long story and then the struggle that first season to just try and stay in the league and really the mysterious and magical way we achieved that. It was called the ‘great escape’ - there have been plenty of situations for football teams that have had great escapes, but that certainly was my one.

"Then of course the two years that followed that, where we went from strength to strength, culminating in a European final. I can’t think of anything about that time that isn’t really sprinkled with some kind of stardust and it’s dangerous because I’m pretty certain there were moments there that weren’t as good and there were difficult moments. But certainly, with a 10-year hiatus between that time and now, that’s how I view it."

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