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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Hodgson focused on survival, not FA Cup tie

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson admits Premier League survival has to be his priority ahead of Sunday's FA Cup third round tie against Bristol Rovers.

Hodgson has inherited a Fulham side second from bottom of the league with just 15 points from 21 matches and facing an almighty scrap to avoid the 'horror' of relegation.

Just five points separate six teams in the congested lower reaches of the Premier League.

The well-travelled Hodgson is relishing a return to hands on coaching - the players were put through a double training session on Thursday - and he insists Fulham can escape the drop.

'It's a massive job but the fact is I wouldn't have taken on the job if I didn't think I had the ability and the confidence to do it,' said Hodgson.

'We fully understand that our most important task in the next four months is to try and maintain our Premier League status.

'I view with horror the scenario where we don't succeed and keep the club in the Premier League but at the moment I have no reason to fear that.

'I see the future as being very bright and I'm very optimistic that we will meet the chairman's requirements and live up to expectations.

'I'm entitled to be confident having come off the back of recent successes with jobs.'

Hodgson's last coaching position was with Finland for their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, when he just missed out on securing a place at a major tournament for the first time in the nation's history.

'I've worked in football non-stop for 32 years on the field, not behind the scenes. My love of the job is being with the players, working with them on a daily basis,' said Hodgson.

'It doesn't get any bigger for that than in the Premier League so I'm very happy to come back and try it again.'

Hodgson's challenge at Fulham is two-fold - to secure the club's Premier League status and to do it in style.

Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed has demanded a change in tactics from the long-ball game favoured by previous manager Lawrie Sanchez.

Hodgson said: 'My aim is to work hard and try and do a good job so the team is confident going onto the pitch and play well.

'When talking about philosophies and what type of football I like to see played, it would be very nice if the team could show you that.'

Hodgson has appointed a new goalkeeping coach in Mike Kelly, a former colleague from his time in charge of Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Grasshoppers.

'There's no doubt of course that when you find yourself at the bottom end of the table and there's no margin for error it is important to defend properly because if you go one or two goals down you give yourself a mountain to climb,' Hodgson added.

'All the time the score is level you've got a better chance.'