Defeat will take time to get over says Hodgson

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The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson has admitted he will need to let the pain subside before he can work out whether there will be any lingering benefits from Fulham's run to the Europa League final.

An amazing 17-match journey, that began in Lithuania last July, came to a shattering conclusion in Hamburg last night thanks to Diego Forlan's goal three minutes from the end of extra-time.

It means that not only did Fulham lose the biggest match in their history, it also condemned them to a season without European football given the safety net of entry via UEFA's Fair Play Table had already been removed by England's slide down the rankings.

So Hodgson needs to look more closely to work out what advantages Fulham have gained beyond the prestige of reaching their first European final.

"When you look round a dressing room at a team that has just lost a final, you don't think about what a boost you have received, or how it will help us next season," said Hodgson.

"Before that you have to suffer. And it will take a bit of time before that pain passes over.

"Maybe when that pain has gone we can turn our attention to whether it has done us any good."

Undoubtedly it has enhanced Hodgson's reputation.

The former Inter Milan coach has already been named the League Managers' Association manager of the year and the links to Liverpool have come as no great surprise as Rafael Benitez's future continues to be the subject of great debate.

As Benitez is by no means certain to leave amid the internal issues that still have to be resolved at Anfield, a more obvious career path for the 62-year-old would be to take charge of the British Olympic team, and from there move on to the England job.

The prestigious Olympic job cannot be allocated until the British Olympic Association finally confirm the team will be made up of English players only, the compromise that was reached by the Home Nations amid fears about their standing within FIFA.

However, Hodgson has been spoken of as one of two clear candidates, the other being present England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce.

As the Olympic team would be an Under-23 side, plus three overage players, there would seem to be sense in opting for Pearce, but in terms of the potential for succeeding Fabio Capello, whose contract expires in 2012, Hodgson would be a better bet.

Crucially, former chief executive Ian Watmore was Pearce's biggest backer and with him now out of the frame, Lord Triesman's leaning towards Hodgson might mean the FA chairman gets his way.

Few would debate Hodgson as a worthy successor to Capello, having proved beyond all doubt in his three years at Craven Cottage what an able and steady manager he is.

However, he is also aware that by staying at Fulham next season he will deny himself the wider competition he has always seemed to crave, and hand himself a potential rebuilding exercise given seven players are out of contract at the end of next season.

"Next season will be a quite straightforward Premier League season," he reflected.

"Having said that, the Premier League, like Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga, is one of the very top leagues in Europe.

"Just being a part of it in itself is something really important."