Roy Hodgson admits he would love to scour a Sir Alex Ferguson coaching manual for tips but has called on his Fulham side not to be in awe of Manchester United when the sides meet tomorrow night.
Hodgson has enjoyed a high-profile and varied career in management, taking in stints with Serie A giants Inter Milan as well as Blackburn and the Swiss national side, but he would still relish the chance to learn from Ferguson.
Hodgson first came across the Scot two decades ago and has marvelled at his sustained success with the Red Devils.
“We’re playing a team who are champions of England, champions of Europe and champions of the world in a fantastic stadium,” said Hodgson.
“These are the sort of games everyone wants to play. We struggled at the end of last season and worked our socks off to stay in this division and the reason we did that was for games like this.
“Alex’s qualities as a coach are well documented but what makes him special as a manager is his record.
“He took on a job 20 years ago which, even then, was considered one of the most difficult jobs in the country. Since then he’s built an empire.
“They were a big club when he went there and now they are an institution around the world. He is a person who has been able to evolve with the times, keep abreast of things and he has a very good eye for a player.”
He added: “You could write books on how successful he has been; in fact I’m sure there have been books.
“But it would be nice one day to read a book when he tells you how he has managed to achieve this great success, then the rest of us could read it and try to follow it.”
Hodgson, though, is eager to point out that he expects neither himself nor his players to be wide-eyed at the prospect of visiting the Premier League pace-setters.
“Much as I’m prepared to sit here and say I’m really happy to go to Old Trafford, I’m not going to sit here like some schoolboy whose dreams are about to come true.
“I don’t wish to seem arrogant or say I couldn’t care less whether it’s Old Trafford or the KC Stadium but I’m not a blue-eyed six-year-old saying ‘this is what I’ve always dreamed of’ either.
“The truth is somewhere between those two things. We just have to go there and give as much as we can.”
Hodgson also insisted that despite the apparent gulf in class between United’s side and his own, there is always the prospect of a shock result.
“Wouldn’t it be strange if their long clean sheet record was broken by Fulham, whose record of scoring goals away from home has been poor?” he suggested.
“Wouldn’t it be even more strange if we were to to whack four or five past them? Albeit our chances are very slim. Miracles don’t always happen but sometimes they do,” he said.
“No-one is really expecting us to go there and score three or four so anything we do will be a surprise. We surprised everyone by staying in the division last year and maybe we can surprise them again.”