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Former England coach Roy Hodgson in line for comeback with struggling Watford


Hornets want to make Hodgson the oldest Premier League boss in history after the axe fell on Claudio Ranieri with Watford marooned in the bottom three

ROY HODGSON is on course for a dramatic encore – to replace the sacked Claudio Ranieri at Watford.

Ranieri, 70, was axed after just 112 days in charge following Friday night’s catastrophic 3-0 defeat by relegation rivals Norwich, which dumped the Hornets in the Premier League drop zone for the first time this season.

Eight months after leaving Crystal Palace – and four years older than Ranieri – Watford have approached the former England coach to save them from relegation.

And Hodgson is understood to be close to agreeing a deal for an astonishing return to the football front line, with ex-Hornets manager Ray Lewington as his right-hand man.

Lewington was sacked by Watford back in 2005, despite leading them to two major semi-finals after being required to make savage cuts of around 75 per cent to the wage bill.

One more time: Hodgson ready to return at 74

His return would be popular among supporters who were disillusioned by the feckless surrender against Norwich.

Hodgson was expected to kick back and enjoy retirement after presiding over four years of stability at Palace.

But it was his rescue act in 2017, when Palace were pointless after their first seven games of the season, that made Watford focus on him as their preferred firefighter.

Diego Martinez, who took unfashionable Spanish club Granada into Europe, and Frank Lampard were other names under consideration to succeed Ranieri at Vicarage Road.

But it was Hodgson’s reputation as a safe pair of hands and an organiser that appealed to Hornets owner Gino Pozzo.

Watford are the only club in all four divisions without a single clean sheet this season.

Ray Lewington: Popular with Watford fans
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Image:

Laurence Griffiths)

And the Norwich debacle, which proved the tipping point for Ranieri after just 14 games in charge, means the self-styled Golden Boys have not completed a shut-out in the top flight for 30 games spread over two seasons – going back to the sensational 3-0 win ending Liverpool’s 44-match unbeaten run in February 2020.

Ranieri knew he was toast on Friday night, which is why his post-match remarks about a woeful performance included some unusually waspish remarks about “selfish” players failing to conform with basic teamwork ethics.

Those remarks were thought to be aimed partly at top scorer Emmanuel Dennis, who was sent off after a distracted display.

But Ranieri’s cause was not helped by Watford refusing to let Dennis play at the Africa Cup of Nations because the Nigerian FA had missed an important deadline to register their intention of calling him up.

Watford blocked leading scorer Emmanuel Dennis from going to Africa Cup of Nations
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Getty Images)

That decision backfired – Dennis has not scored for a month – and the loss of flying winger Ismaila Sarr for two months did not help him, either.

Sarr was crocked by a poor challenge from Donny van de Beek in the 4-1 rout of Manchester Unied which proved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s farewell in the Old Trafford hot seat back on November 20.

Since then, Ranieri had collected only one point – and his overall record of seven points from a possible 39 was never going to be enough to survive the Norwich horror show.




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