Roy Hodgson has come out of retirement after eight months to take over as manager of relegation-threatened Watford. The 74-year-old was on Tuesday confirmed as the successor to Claudio Ranieri on what is understood to be a contract until the end of the season.
The former England manager is regarded by the club’s owner, Gino Pozzo, as the ideal candidate to oversee Watford’s attempt to avoid the drop. They are 19th in the Premier League but only two points from safety, having played fewer games than Newcastle and Norwich immediately above them. Hodgson’s first match will be at the bottom club, Burnley, on February 5th.
Hodgson retired at the end of last season after a successful spell at Crystal Palace but is resuming his status as the Premier League’s oldest-ever manager. He turned 74 in August. He is joined by his long-time assistant Ray Lewington, who managed Watford from 2002 until 2005.
Hodgson has a reputation for guiding troubled clubs to safety, having taken over a Palace team with no points from four matches in September 2017 and accepted the Fulham job in 2007 a few days after Christmas when the side had two Premier League wins.
When Hodgson announced he was retiring he left the door slightly ajar for an opening such as Watford. “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 certainly not leaving Crystal Palace with the idea of putting myself back on the market for another job.
“I really am stepping away from football for a while, but who knows what the future will be? It is a never-say-never moment. I’ve seen so many people retire with all the fanfare blazing, only to surface again somewhere in a fairly short period of time. I’d prefer not to do that.”
Ranieri was sacked on Monday after only 16 weeks at Watford, during which he won two of 13 league games. The club are without a victory in nine games in all competitions, their longest such run since December 2013, and are 19th but only two points from safety.
Hodgson worked with the Pozzo family during a spell with Udinese from June to December 2001 which ended with his dismissal after 17 matches. – Guardian