Roy Hodgson will know he’s at West Bromwich Albion by midday this Sunday.
A derby day clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers isn’t the easiest start for a manager at The Hawthorns.
Tony Mowbray might have sparked his tenure into life with a 3-0 win against Mick McCarthy’s men, but he was taking over a side which had just won 5-1 at Ipswich and then beaten Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Confidence was high.
There will be no beer or skittles for Hodgson this weekend.
And with his appointment this week came a sense of stark realism. Those expecting to hear verbal bravado were in for a disappointment.
After all, he saw Albion’s game with West Ham.
But being back in a footballing environment clearly appeals to the veteran Croydon-born boss.
“I wasn’t planning to return so soon after Liverpool but Dan Ashworth and Jeremy Peace were very persuasive,” he said.
“I know I’ve taken on a very difficult challenge in a sense of not having so much time and, like so many other clubs, we are in a desperately difficult situation trying to retain our status.
“But that’s our major focus for me, the major goal and ambition, and I hope we can achieve that then try to get a stronger platform for next season in the Premier League.
“All jobs are different. The Premier League is a very tough league, interesting league, whether for a club searching for a top four place or for one who would finish season still happy to stay in division.
“Jobs in this league are precious.
“Clubs which allow you to work and do a job properly and give you the support you need, and hopefully give you a group of players to work with – who embrace your philiophies and follow what you’re attempting to do – are very important.
“I believe West Brom are that sort of club.
“And what a game to start with. A big game for the fans and I’m looking forward to it.”
Employing a 63-year-old, with nearly 36 years of coaching experience is all very well, but questions will be asked about the appetite of such a manager – not least one who ended an uncharacteristically undignified spell at Liverpool just a few weeks ago.
Albion have been there before.
Keith Burkinshaw, Ron Wylie, Ron Saunders still send shudders through the soul of any Albion fans old enough to remember darker times at B71.
If Albion were looking for firefighters, they – certainly in Saunders’ case – then they actually opted for a managerial pyromaniac.
But Hodgson’s fires continue to rage, as he adds Albion to his previous 19 managerial jobs on an already impressive and multi-lingual Curriculum Vitae.
Whether he parks his car in a spot tagged ‘head coach’ or ‘manager’ clearly makes no difference to a much-travelled man used to trying to marry up the English way and the ‘continental system’.
He outlined what he hopes to get from Albion in return for the experience he brings to the club.
“I’ve got the job I’ve always done since 1976,” continued Hodgson. “I’ve been called trainer, coach, mister, manager, leader – basically I’m the man who works with the players every day, works with the team, picks the team, tries to get them playing in a certin way.
“And over 36 years you learn an awful lot of things. I like to think I know what job entails, and I’d like to think I will help players become better as a team.
“I will be working closely with Dan, who will be very important to me and the club because a very important part of every club is recruitment.”
Questions about player investment this summer are futile while the club’s Premier League status remains undecided.
But Hodgson outlined his thoughts, adding: “I think I will get good backing, yes, but I know how the club works and how carefully they try to run the club within the budgets and, to be fair, so did (Fulham owner) Mohammed Al Fayed.
“He wanted to put in money the club generated and that’s what the club wants to do here.
“I’m afraid in the long run, for clubs like Fulham and West Brom, that is the way forward. Maybe at the top end of the league there are other ways of doing things.”
When asked on who would get final say on players signings, Hodgson turned to Ashworth.
“My job is to line up players, in conjunction with Roy, helping with transfer fees, wages, and maybe do a bit of groundwork,” he said.
“Ultimately there is no point in bringing in a player Roy doesn’t like because he won’t play. So Roy has the ultimate say.”
So what of his 16-month contract? Does this open up potential for a stab at the England or Great Britain Olympic jobs in 2012?
Hodgson replied: “I have always said that if the day ever arrived when the FA thought I was the right man I would be more than happy to do the job.
“I have been fortunate enough to be mentioned in despatches a number of times and far as England are concerned and that’s very flattering. But I certainly don’t have one eye on it.
“I have a very clear personal goal, which is to be in the Premier League next season and then at the start of the following season. If I have achieved that goal, I will have another very clear goal.
“But I don’t look beyond that. If people are mentioning me I will be grateful for that but it’s not something I have as a particular aim.”
Dan Ashworth delighted at Roy Hodgson's arrival
When West Bromwich Albion began the search for Roberto Di Matteo’s successor they weren’t quite expecting it go so smoothly.
A quick phone-call on Sunday night to Roy Hodgson’s advisers was followed by a meeting with sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth.
That was followed by a further interview last Thursday, which saw his appointment approved late that night and announced the following morning.
Ashworth admits now that he was staggered how smoothly it went – not least as they were dealing with a hugely-experienced manager who was with Liverpool just five weeks ago and, realistically, could have waited for better offers.
“I was surprised to get Roy,” said Ashworth.
“When I did meet him I was there for three-and-a-half hours and I talked to him about our club DNA and how the club is set up.
“There has been a lot of scepticism about me and about my role over the past week on phone-ins and websites.
“But, as he said himself, the job he has got now is no different to ones he has had for the last 30-odd years.
“Primarily he’s in charge of picking the players, formations, tactics and strategy to beat Wolves on Sunday and then Stoke and Birmingham.
“I think it is a massive coup for us. He’s been touted as a possible England manager and has fabulous experience.
“He has experience in Europe and with European players and we have a high percentage of European players – and have had over the last few years.
“That was important as well.
“His coaching and management experiences over the last few years and his media work, also coming from Fulham, who would have been in the market for a similar sort of player to us.
“Roy has more than 800 senior games and an unbelievable CV – what he did at Fulham was miraculous.”