x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hodgson plays down expectations after strong finish last season

The manager is realistic and cautious about the season, and as Shane Long makes his debut the club hopes to keep Peter Odemwingie.

Roy Hodgson is focused on making sure West Bromwich Albion avoid becoming victims of the Premier League's "second-season syndrome" ahead of today's opening home clash with Manchester United.

Hodgson, the manager, knows the expectation levels have been raised after 20 points in 12 games, following his arrival in February, saw West Brom finish 11th in their first campaign back in the top flight.

He said: "We did have a very good run, [and] only lost two of the last 12 league games, which is a good record for any Premier League team. We moved quite a few places up the table. As a result we have made a rod for our own back to some extent. People will expect more of us than had we avoided relegation on goal difference.

"But I can't stop preaching the most important thing is our second year in the Premier League - and everyone knows that is notoriously the most dangerous year after being promoted."

Shane Long is poised to make his debut after moving from Reading in an initial £4.5 million (Dh26.7m) deal- West Brom's sixth signing of the summer.

Hodgson believes the 24-year-old striker can eventually attain even greater heights in his career.

"We believe, perhaps, that he will go on to even bigger and better things. If that is the case, we can only wish him well. But at the moment, we are looking forward to working with him here and him helping us to get some good results," Hodgson said.

Hodgson is optimistic Peter Odemwingie will sign a new contract after the club rejected an undisclosed bid from Wigan Athletic for the Nigeria striker.

"We believe Peter is very much a part of our set-up, and I think he's happy here. We certainly appreciate him, and it's important to be somewhere you're appreciated.

"I'll be very disappointed if he left us. We owe him a debt, but to some extent he owes the club a debt because we were the club that gave him a chance."

Hodgson recently celebrated his 64th birthday and can see himself emulating United's Sir Alex Ferguson in remaining in management.

"Will I go on as long as Sir Alex? Yes, I can see that. I admire what he's done, and I like the fact he has done what he wants to do," he said.

"He's only carrying on because he enjoys doing it. He's good at it, of course, but he is carrying on because he enjoys it and he still wants to do it."

Hodgson expects United to again be major title contenders but is relishing rather than fearing the opening fixture of the campaign.

"The games against the champions of England are always the games you look forward to," he said.