Nobody needs reminding by now what a great job Roy Hodgson’s done at Fulham. We’ve talked for a while about what a snug fit club and manager are. For me, what confirmed this were the stories I’ve heard from friends out in Basel who walked around and chatted with the manager before arguably the biggest game in our club’s history. Could you imagine that happening with anyone else?
Hodgson says he loves at the Craven Cottage. Well, not to go all Hugh Grant on him, but we love you too Roy.
This is a terrific interview in the Torygraph, with a previously unseen regret that Hodgson is a little sad that his parents didn’t appreciate what he’d done.
My biggest regret was my parents never really understood what I had done. I remember going into an Italian restaurant with my mother when she was quite old and the waiter recognised me. ‘How does he know you?’ my mother said.
I was popular with Inter. [Club owner Massimo] Moratti says I was the best coach he’d had. Before I came to Inter, Paul Ince was disenchanted. His wife Claire hadn’t settled. He didn’t speak the language. There was that thing when he got a couple of very spurious red cards for virtually nothing, jumping over a fence or taking his shirt off and he took umbrage. So my coming was a boon. We had a young Roberto Carlos and other famous players. And we got to the Uefa Cup final.
It was a shame my parents didn’t know. Sometimes people wrote nice things about me in English papers and they would be astonished. My career has been off the radar. I built up a fantastic reputation in Copenhagen and Norway. It was strange I couldn’t go to Italy, Sweden or Switzerland without being noticed but I walked around London quite unknown.
He talks about how setbacks and backgrounds can help a a manager forge their way, with a reference to today’s opponent, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Overcoming knock-backs and confronting situations over the years puts us in a better position to do the job. A native talent for the job can be there from the offset. Alex started very young and very successfully. I did myself: I won the championship in my first job in ’76 [with Halmstads]. I had good qualities then but I’m a better manager now.
Hunger has to be innate. How come at 80 Brian Glanville is a damned sight more enthusiastic than some journalists just starting off? It’s the light that shines within. Nothing has ever killed that light for me.
As managers, we have to be very careful to make sure we don’t regard ourselves as centre of the universe. Those two [Shankly and Mourinho] are very different characters to myself, Arsène Wenger and even Alex [Ferguson], who’s a modest man. Was Shankly modest? Mourinho could certainly never be accused of being modest. Modesty is a very important quality. But Mourinho’s playing a role he thinks is required for the job and he’s succeeding very well with it.
There’s a bit of discussion about the modern player.
They [players] do lack it [hunger] a bit more than people of my and Alex’s generation. People needed to become footballers to get themselves out of the worst possible jobs, going down mines or working in the docks. Alex and I can relate to that. Life is so much more comfortable now: there is no fear of being sent down the mine or dying through lack of food on the table. The player coming to us now is not desperate to make a living. They know life is good whatever happens.
My players challenge me every day. We are developing a thinking group of players. They analyse things. I don’t want robots. I’d expect Murphy, Schwarzer, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird, Konchesky and Duff all to chip in. We’ve got an experienced and good group. I trust them implicitly. There’s no one in that group who won’t give everything. Those ones have left the club.
Hmm, Jimmy Bullard, anyone? And then it’s onto Fulham – and England.
It’s perfect here at Fulham, but if I were to look beyond Fulham it would have to be a top-class national team – and what better one than your own? Of course, if the FA wanted me I’d love to do it. I would have no hesitation in accepting.
It passed me by on two occasions – when Kevin Keegan got it, then Sven-Goran Eriksson. I regard the job as the pinnacle of English football. I was very close to Bob Robson, especially towards the end of his life, and he always told me his proudest moment was managing England. I was with Terry Venables the other day and his proudest moment was managing England. I’m patriotic. I don’t go down to the Southampton docks and wave the flag when they go off to the Falklands War, but England has been good to me. I’m proud to be English.