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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Hodgson sets survival targets for Fulham

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Fulham manager Roy Hodgson refuses to set a specific target for this season although he knows the name of the game is Premier League survival after helping the club narrowly avoid relegation last season.

'I don't like setting targets, I think really the major target is going to be staying in the Premier League,' Hodgson told reporters.

'Obviously, we'd like to improve considerably from what we did last year but I don't want to quantify that by saying this place or that place,' he said ahead of Saturday's season-opening match away to promoted Hull City (1400 GMT).

'I'll see how the season pans out and see how good we can be and then maybe start setting definite targets during the course of the season.'

The much-travelled 61-year-old was appointed in December last year when Fulham were second-from-bottom, having won only two league games and facing a tough relegation battle.

Hodgson turned their fortunes around and they stayed up on goal difference after four victories in their last five games, three of which were away including a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down at halftime to win 3-2 at Manchester City.

Fulham are only the second Premier League team Hodgson -- who is respected throughout the game -- has coached after an unsuccessful stint in charge of Blackburn Rovers from 1997-98.

His coaching duties have taken him from Finland's national team to the United Arab Emirates and he also led Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 -- their first appearances in major tournaments for three decades.

Hodgson has won trophies galore in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, took Inter Milan to the 1997 UEFA Cup final and sits on various FIFA and UEFA technical committees.

In preparation for his first full season at Craven Cottage, Hodgson has been active in the transfer market with seven new signings arriving at Fulham since the end of last season.

'We've signed players and we are happy with the signings, we think that it has made us stronger as a unit,' Hodgson said at a news conference on Thursday.

'It's a new team, it might take a bit of time for certain positions to bed in, but I have been very happy with the way people have been working in the pre-season, I have been very happy with the pre-season results.'

However, Hodgson remains cautious as his side prepare to visit Hull without newly-signed England striker Andy Johnson.

'He had a thigh strain when he arrived from Everton and we don't want to take the risk by playing him too early. I'm pretty sure he will be able to play against Arsenal (on Aug. 23), but we'll have to do without him at Hull.'

Following an Asian tour to fine-tune Hodgson's strategy for keeping Fulham in the top flight, the players are optimistic.

'I think with the quality we have got, we are capable of pushing for mid-table. I think it would be realistically a good achievement for us,' Simon Davies told Reuters.

Fellow midfielder, U.S international Clint Dempsey, added: 'Things are going well, there are lots of new players and it is more difficult to get into the starting eleven. I think that is going to make us a better team this season'.

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