Persuasive Baggies quick to lure Hodgson back into fold

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New West Brom manager Roy Hodgson admits he did not intend to be back in management quite so quickly after being sacked by Liverpool last month.

The 63-year-old parted company with Liverpool five weeks ago after an ill-fated six-month stint at Anfield.

He has joined the Baggies on an 18-month contract until the summer of 2012 as successor to Roberto Di Matteo.

Hodgson will watch today’s home game with West Ham with first-team coach Michael Appleton taking charge.

Hodgson will be at the helm for the first time for the derby with Wolves at The Hawthorns next weekend.

He said: “It was not my intention to return to Barclays Premier League football this quickly.

“But I was so impressed by the way the chairman (Jeremy Peace) and the sporting and technical director (Dan Ashworth) sold the project to me that I was very happy to accept the offer.

“I am delighted that a club of West Bromwich Albion’s stature has given me the opportunity to help them in their quest to retain their Premier League status and to build for the future.

“I hear that Michael has done a terrific job looking after the players this week and preparing them (for today’s game).

“I know from my previous visits to The Hawthorns the kind of atmosphere the fans can generate and I am sure they will get right behind Michael and the team.”

Peace insisted Hodgson was always Albion’s first choice. He said: “At such a vital stage of the season, we felt it was important we identified and appointed the right man as quickly as possible.

“Roy emerged as the outstanding and unanimous choice of the football club board and we are delighted to have appointed our No 1 target.

“We believe his vast experience and knowledge of the game is exactly what we need for the challenge we face, both in the short and long term.

“However, as Roy has stated, the club’s immediate focus is offering Michael, Keith Downing, Dean Kiely (club coaches) and the players all the support they need as they prepare to face West Ham.

“We’re very grateful for the way Michael has taken over the reins this week. He has fully justified our faith in him.”

Last weekend’s defeat left Albion only two points clear of the relegation zone.

Former Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce ruled himself out of contention for the vacancy at The Hawthorns, but ex-Newcastle boss Chris Hughton had been widely tipped as a strong candidate while Steve McClaren, former Albion captain Derek McInnes and ex-West Brom player Martin Jol were also linked with the role.

Appleton – at 35 the youngest man to be put in charge of a Premier League team – had also spoken of his hopes of seizing the chance to earn himself the job on a permanent basis.

But Albion instead opted to give Hodgson a swift return to top-flight management.