x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Roy Hodgson is the accidental assassin

West Bromwich Albion beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-0 and Mick McCarthy was dismissed, then they beat Chelsea 1-0 and Andre Villas-Boas was given his marching orders.

Roy Hodgson, the West Bromwich Albion manager, has overseen three wins in three matches.
Roy Hodgson, the West Bromwich Albion manager, has overseen three wins in three matches.

Executioners are not normally as mild-mannered, but the Premier League has a new assassin. Roy Hodgson has overseen three successive wins at West Bromwich Albion, finishing the reigns of two of his counterparts.

First Wolverhampton Wanderers' Mick McCarthy, beaten 5-1 in an extraordinary Black Country derby, and then Chelsea's Andre Villas-Boas, a loser at The Hawthorns on Saturday, paid the price in the following 24 hours.

All of which rather overshadowed Albion's excellence. Those victories, sandwiching a 4-0 demolition of a Sunderland side who were flying, render the Baggies the form side outside the division's top two.

Hodgson is no stranger to dramatic dismissals himself, shown the door after six months at Liverpool last season.

Yet his response has been admirable and Albion are now just four points behind Liverpool. Given their recent resurgence, there is the potential for considerable embarrassment at Anfield and spectacular vindication for the 64 year old.

That is not to say John W Henry was wrong to get rid of him. Hodgson was miscast as a Liverpool manager.

Instead, he suits Albion, just as he suited Fulham before them. He can flourish outside the limelight and Albion, a down-to-earth, welcoming, well-run club, has proved the ideal antidote to Anfield, a rancorous place at the end of the ruinous regime of the former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Hodgson's fondness for experienced, unglamorous figures led him to sign Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky for Liverpool, each a dreadful mistake.

A similar policy brought Liam Ridgewell and Keith Andrews to The Hawthorns in January and both boast a 100 per cent winning record in their brief Baggies careers, with the midfielder chipping in with two goals.

Gareth McAuley, who was 31 before he had played a Premier League game, belongs in the same category. He delivered the winner against Chelsea.

They are men in Hodgson's own mould. Astute recruitment has been allied with a tactical tweak that has proved hugely effective. Albion have added a third central midfielder, switching to 4-5-1 by relocating Peter Odemwingie to the right wing from the centre of attack.

It has proved a counter-intuitive move to make the Nigerian more prolific. With a hat-trick against Wolves and two more goals against Sunderland, he was the Premier League's player of the month for February.

Meanwhile, Hodgson, a man who invariably offers his support to under-fire colleagues at other clubs, has claimed a title himself, as the destroyer-in-chief of imperilled managers.