The Mail brought Sir Bobby Robson and Roy Hodgson together at Motspur Park this week and the ensuing article is a joy to read.
Robson started his managerial career at Fulham and, as he guided Ipswich to success, and then went on to manage Barcelona and take England to a World Cup semi-final many would have wondered whether the Fulham board ended his tenure too abruptly. He vowed he would never return to the Cottage then, but has been back several times since – receiving a warm welcome when he led his Newcastle side out as we returned to the top flight – and his love for the game still shines through even as he battles cancer.
He even advises Hodgson not to consider retirement, which our current boss confesses he hasn’t, and says Roy’s got another five years in him. If Hodgson continues his progress with the Whites in the coming seasons then we’ll be begging him to stay for five more. The two voice their concern at the lack of time that managers seem to get these days, lamenting the departure of Paul Ince at Blackburn, although we dispensed with Lawrie Sanchez last season relatively quickly. Hodgson said:
I had five years at Halmstad and five years at Malmo when I started. Now managers get five months!
There are some interesting insights into how he prepares to confront Chelsea tomorrow afternoon.
Having two front players is vital because we don’t want to be pushed on to the back foot.
He can’t be all negative if that’s the way he’s thinking of tackling the big sides. Remember, Cookie paired Brian McBride and Collins John up front the last time we beat Chelsea at the Cottage – and I remember John spurning a glorious chance to make it 2-0 towards the end of the first half.
We have to be prepared to take the initiative against the opposition, even against better teams like Chelsea. When we have the ball, we should be confident we can cause them problems.
Hodgson is obviously delighted to have secured the services of Andy Johnson, who apparently wanted to come back to London even though his manager wasn’t so keen on letting him leave.
We’ve been enamoured with Andy’s work-rate. He is aggressive, never gives up and is always making threatening runs behind defenders. I’m not saying Johnson is as good a player as Rooney, but there are similarities in their games.
Andy is a good technician, like Wayne he strikes a good ball. There are more goals to come from him and Zamora.
There’s just a little hint of Hodgson’s annoyance that the Bullard saga has been dragged up as he says he allows our chief executive to deal with contract questions.
I’m old-fashioned. I think contracts are for a certain time and you renegotiate towards the end, in the final year.