Roy Hodgson Is Back in the Prem at 70. Will His Experience and Humility Count for Anything?

By Davies, Hunter | New Statesman (1996), September 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

Roy Hodgson Is Back in the Prem at 70. Will His Experience and Humility Count for Anything?


Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)


I do like it when young men get a chance, when their career appears to be over then bingo, they are back at the top. I often look back at my own incredibly long and wonderful career and think: who would have thought it, wow, at this age still playing for England. Metaphorically. Still turning out loads of books and national newspaper columns, even at the great age of 81.

So well done Roy Hodgson, a mere stripling of 70, back in the Premiership with Crystal Palace. I felt sorry for him when at his first press conference all the hacks went on about his age, being the oldest manager ever to be appointed to a Prem club. "You can't tear up your birth certificate," he said, sagely, "but it's how you feel." So wise. Since he got the push from England, he had "missed the day-to-day contact with players".

I remember a stage in my career when I suddenly missed journalism--the smell of the grease paint, I mean the ink. The roar of the crowd, sorry, the copy-takers, yelling: "Is there much more of this?" So I went back and did some jobbing journalism.

Roy is probably the most-travelled English manager, having worked in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and managed some top clubs, such as Inter Milan and Liverpool.

We won't mention England. (Or Blackburn, who sacked him.) He certainly doesn't, refusing to talk about it at his press conferences. He lasted four years, until that appalling performance against Iceland, which knocked England out of Euro 2016.

Yet I have always liked him, admired his standards. No scandals, dodgy deals, back handers, like many managers. He is not money mad, like Mourinho, doing advertising for those nasty flash watches. He is not an egotist, preening and posing like Mourinho, or a big head like Brian Clough. He does seem humble, self aware. He has a cultured interior, likes films and theatre, reads good novels (Updike and Philip Roth are favourites), speaks several languages.

His experience will help him. Much stupid technical stuff has come in since he first managed --regiments of video analysts assembling masses of stats that prove what any decent manager can see with his own eyes. …

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