Scout Reports

Dennis, King, Foster: How will Watford’s FPL players fare under Roy Hodgson?

The wounds are still fresh for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) owners of Emmanuel Dennis (£6.2m) – especially those who captained the forward – after his dismissal during the first match of Watford’s Double Gameweek 23. Expectations were high amongst the 3.7 million ahead of facing Norwich City and Burnley, yet he’s already completed the week on negative points.

As a consequence of Dennis’s red card, Watford lost 3-0 to the Canaries and manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked. Appointing their seventh permanent manager in just four years, now it’s Roy Hodgson’s turn to take charge and ensure Premier League survival is secured.

We’ll look at the nomadic head coach in this Scout Report, with stats taken from our Premium Members Area.

WATFORD’S SITUATION

The 74-year-old was expected to be done with football after his time at Crystal Palace ended but he’s agreed to take on a firefighter role, with Watford lying in 19th place after collecting only one point from their last eight matches. They’re still without a clean sheet this season.

Yet it’s a sensible time to make a managerial switch, with a two-week gap between matches and a promising run of upcoming fixtures that also needs to squeeze postponed meetings with Crystal Palace (H) and Wolves (a).

Dennis’s eight goals and six assists make him FPL’s second-highest scoring forward and Josh King (£5.9m) has nine goal involvements that includes a Gameweek 9 hat-trick at Everton. Up front is the strongest area of their team and is set to be boosted with the nearby return of star winger Ismaila Sarr (£5.7m).

Out since Gameweek 12 with a knee injury, at that point Sarr’s 53 points was ahead of King and only one behind Dennis, having scored five times. If Hodgson can get this trio in tandem and shore up their problematic defence, Watford will feel confident of dragging themselves to safety.

HODGSON’S HISTORY

There are experienced managers and then there is Roy Hodgson. His first gig was 46 years ago, taking over Swedish side Halmstads BK in 1976. This will be his 17th domestic role, having spent time managing clubs from six countries ranging from IK Oddevold and Orebro to Liverpool and Inter Milan.

Early years at various Swedish sides took him to Malmo and five consecutive Allsvenskan league titles, later eliminating Inter from the 1989/90 European Cup. He fancied a new challenge, so departed for Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax in July 1990, a country which soon handed him his first of four international jobs.

His two years at Inter were a rebuilding phase for a side in-between eras and, after losing the UEFA Cup Final to Schalke, he decided to move to Blackburn. Former club president Massimo Moratti speaks very highly of Hodgson and the work he did, which could be applied to the task he now faces at Vicarage Road.

“Roy Hodgson was an important person in the development of Inter Milan to the point we have reached today. He saved us at the right time. When he came, we were in trouble and things appeared dark. He didn’t panic, he was calm and made us calm. Disaster was averted at the most important time. Everyone at Inter will remember him for that and his contribution. He is considered by us all as an important person in our history.”

He quickly returned to the continent, where he took on roles at Grasshoppers, FC Kobenhavn and Udinese.

The early years of this millennium took him on a nomadic route through United Arab Emirates, Norway and Finland before he took on the task of rescuing a struggling Premier League club from relegation.

It was Fulham in 2007. His first 13 league games brought only nine points, yet an extraordinary comeback win at Manchester City was one of four wins from their final five matches. The Cottagers had stayed up.

It was the start of a fantastic career renaissance, where he soon took Fulham to seventh place and then the Europa League Final of 2010, where Diego Forlan broke their hearts in extra time. Voted LMA Manager of the Year, he became Liverpool’s new boss that summer.

Whilst his time on Merseyside was disastrous and short-lived, he returned to a more comfortable level with West Bromwich Albion and quickly pulled them from relegation danger up to 11th-place. Next season brought a slight improvement and he finally secured the England job in time for Euro 2012.

The combination of finishing last in their 2014 World Cup group and the shock elimination by Iceland in Euro 2016 ended his time in charge, although he once again bounced back with a Premier League success story.

He was hired by his boyhood club Crystal Palace in September 2017 after a disastrous start under Frank De Boer. No side had previously escaped relegation from the top flight after losing their first seven games but Hodgson steered them to a remarkable 11th-place. The following three seasons continued the Eagles’ stability by finishing 12th, 14th and 14th. At this point, Hodgson decided it was time to step away.

“I really am stepping away from football for a while, but who knows what the future will be? It is a never-say-never moment. I’ve seen so many people retire with all the fanfare blazing, only to surface again somewhere in a fairly short period of time. I’d prefer not to do that.”

And he was right not to commit to retirement, as he’s back managing in the top flight less than a year later, believing there is enough quality in the squad to repeat the survivals achieved at Fulham, West Brom and Crystal Palace.

PLAYING STYLE

To survive 46 years in management, there has to be some level of evolution and Hodgson has certainly had the intelligence to tweak accordingly when moving with the times. Yet he still retains the same basic principles that started his journey in Sweden.

He and Bob Houghton were credited with transforming Swedish football with their high pressing 4-4-2 formation, introducing zonal marking and a more pragmatic style of play.

This was mainly stuck with at Crystal Palace, usually going with two organised banks of four that let the other team keep possession but with a readiness to pounce on the counter-attack, often to a front two of Wilfried Zaha (£6.8m) and Jordan Ayew (£5.8m).

Hodgson likes partnerships, whether it be centre-backs, the combination of a winger and full-back, or a strikeforce. At Palace, he was initially known for playing four central midfielders across the middle of the park in a 4-4-2.

However, as seen on transfermarkt.co.uk, he would also sometimes play a 4-3-3, with the three workmanlike operators in the engine room. The likes of Moussa Sissoko (£4.4m) and perhaps Tom Cleverley (£4.8m), who Hodgson handed an England debut to back in 2012, could feature prominently in his plans. Indeed, all 13 of Cleverley’s caps came under his new club boss.

So it seems likely that Hodgson will deploy a back four at the Hornets. With Sarr, Dennis, King and Joao Pedro (£5.4m) at his disposal, he could also flit between a 4-3-3 and an attacking 4-4-2, but a more conservative set-up seems likelier given that Watford’s struggles have been at the other end of the pitch. Whoever gets the nod out wide (all four of the above have done so this season) will have to put in some graft on the flank, based on Hodgson’s historic attitude towards his wide-men.

“One of his first training sessions he put me in, he put me as part of the defenders. I wasn’t happy and felt he was picking on me. I had a little sulk and he said, ‘I’m going to make a good defender out of you if it’s the last thing I do’. Even now, if my defending isn’t great, he’ll tell me what I need to do. He doesn’t let me forget about my defensive duties.” – Andros Townsend, speaking in 2020

Will the likes of Dennis be able to adapt to the new demands?

Over his four years at Selhurst Park, Palace were usually around mid-table for goals scored and conceded (see table above). Although that’s an improvement on Watford’s current situation, questions need to be asked about whether Hodgson either has the time to recruit suitable defenders or has enough tools at his disposal to fix things.

“Every manager brings a new way of working and new ideas, and when you’ve only got a short period of time it can be tricky to really stamp that philosophy onto a group of players. It’s going to be a really intense four months for us, and if we are going to achieve our goal the players are the ones who are going to do it for us.” – Roy Hodgson upon his appointment

PALACE UNDER HODGSON: ATTACKING STATS

2017/18 – Rank v other PL clubs2018/19 – Rank v other PL clubs2019/20 – Rank v other PL clubs2020/21 – Rank v other PL clubs
Shots7th8th19th18th
Shots in the box6th8th17th18th
Shots on target8th14th19th16th
Big chances5th15th20th18th=
Expected goals6th13th19th19th

The final two years at Palace saw them ranked third-worst and second-worst for goal attempts, with only one side having a lower expected goals (xG) tally each time.

The lingering feeling of Hodgson’s legacy at Selhurst Park was one of dour football – alarm bells will be ringing for owners of King and Dennis – but it wasn’t always thus: Palace were among the top six teams for both xG and big chances in Hodgson’s first season at the helm.

PALACE UNDER HODGSON: DEFENSIVE STATS

2017/18 – Rank v other PL clubs2018/19 – Rank v other PL clubs2019/20 – Rank v other PL clubs2020/21 – Rank v other PL clubs
Clean sheets9th=6th9th=17th
Shots conceded9th15th13th=15th
Shots in the box conceded12th11th12th19th
Shots on target conceded11th=9th12th13th
Big chances conceded12th=9th12th=18th
Expected goals conceded9th13th14th18th

Apart from his final campaign where the wheels had come off somewhat, Palace’s underlying defensive statistics were fairly respectable under Hodgson and they finished top half for clean sheets in his first three years at the helm.

BEN FOSTER

If Watford’s defence does start to improve, FPL managers could be offered a £4.1m playing goalkeeper with hopes of an actual clean sheet. A groin injury has restricted Ben Foster to only one appearance since Gameweek 12 but, having been Hodgson’s trusted goalkeeper at West Brom, it’s likely he’ll be number one once back from illness.

They’ve publicly praised each other in the past and it was Hodgson who convinced Foster to end his three-year international retirement in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Some of the aforementioned fixtures have clean sheet potential, especially as Gameweek 25’s home clash with Brighton and Hove Albion coincides with a blank for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale.

FPLMarc Newcastle fan that spends far too much time thinking about FPL.

179 Comments Post a Comment
  1. DALEDOBACK
    • 4 Years
    2 years, 26 days ago

    Amazing what you can do with one of KDB or SALAH

  2. DALEDOBACK
    • 4 Years
    2 years, 26 days ago

    114 point gap too much?

    1. DALEDOBACK
      • 4 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      Have a FT more but have just activated wildcard

      1. DALEDOBACK
        • 4 Years
        2 years, 26 days ago

        FH even

    2. FourLokoLeipzig
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      To one player, no - you could do well and they could have a shocker. But if you have a few between you then yeah, probably

      1. DALEDOBACK
        • 4 Years
        2 years, 26 days ago

        No one between us, he has a great rank

        1. FourLokoLeipzig
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          2 years, 26 days ago

          Well the earlyish WC should give you a chance. GL, and thanks for your reply below!

  3. FourLokoLeipzig
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    2 years, 26 days ago

    Just playing around with my planned GW25 wildcard. Bit early I know, but it would be great to get some feedback if anyone has the time?

    Sanchez / Foster
    TTA / Cancelo / Digne / Dalot / Ait Nouri
    Salah / Bruno / Bowen / Gallagher / Cornet
    Kane / Maupay / Broja

    1. DALEDOBACK
      • 4 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      Strong, covered a lot of bases there no man city attack though

    2. waltzingmatildas
      • 13 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      I'd prefer a city mid over Kane, but looks good otherwise

      1. FourLokoLeipzig
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        2 years, 26 days ago

        Thanks!

    3. Diamondgeezer
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      I really like the Cornet pick.
      I get why people are saying city mid, but with CL starting up again Pep roulette will be back. The other problem with the city attack is that there is no one focal point. Goals come from everywhere. It is what makes them a great football team, but for FPL you get games where they win with 3+goals and your pick misses out on returns.
      It is not like Salah where you know a 3 goal win will definitely involve him.
      Just my opinion, I am sure others will disagree.

      1. FourLokoLeipzig
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        2 years, 26 days ago

        Yeah, that’s my thinking too. I’ve got KDB and Foden at present but this feels to me like the right time to back away (well, after Norwich is probably a better time, but I could easily see one of them being rested for that). Thanks for the feedback!

      2. CRAZY TRAIN
        • 12 Years
        2 years, 26 days ago

        Investing in KDB over Kane is an option and enables an easy swap for Son as alternative Spurs cover.
        The challenge in that is who you replace Kane with as forward options are poor this season

  4. DALEDOBACK
    • 4 Years
    2 years, 26 days ago

    Another RMWCT draft, appreciate any thoughts...

    DDG
    TAA, Cancelo, Digne,
    Salah, (K)DB, Bowen, Cornet, Greenwood
    Watkins, Édouard

    Sanchez, Broja, Ait-nouri, Webster

    1. FourLokoLeipzig
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      Yeah, I like it (a lot of the same players as mine, so you’d expect me to say that!). Greenwood seems very punty - anyone else in mind for that spot? If you want KDB, I’d prefer to get Bruno for the double then switch, especially if going without Ronnie. Double Brighton defence seems too much given that you won’t play Sanchez in the double and their fixtures are pretty mixed aside from that

    2. waltzingmatildas
      • 13 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      Like it, like the greenwood punt

    3. CRAZY TRAIN
      • 12 Years
      2 years, 26 days ago

      Greenwood could be a great differential if your chasing.

  5. SKENG
    • 7 Years
    2 years, 26 days ago

    What to do with this team? Got 1 FT, 0.4 itb

    Ramsdale
    TAA Cancelo Tierney
    Son Bowen Foden Jota
    Ronaldo Antonio Dennis

    Foster Williams Mbeumo Alonso

    With United's DGW25 in mind... thinking Alonso > Dalot this week (or Save FT if Son looks fit to play) to give me enough in bank to do Son > Bruno for DGW25.