Roy Hodgson: Still at the Top Table

Roy Hodgson
DONCASTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Roy Hodgson, Manager of Crystal Palace looks on in victory after the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Doncaster Rovers and Crystal Palace at Keepmoat Stadium on February 17, 2019 in Doncaster, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

’You can’t win anything kids,’ as said Alan Hansen many years ago now. He was proved to be wrong, but what about at the other end of the spectrum? Players are seen as being into their twilight years at 30 years of age. Yet, managers seem to go on – an amazing fact when you consider the pressure on them, now more than ever.

One manager still at the top table is Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson.

Paying Tribute to Roy Hodgson

In 1976, a man was starting his managerial career after a somewhat uninspiring playing career that had started at Crystal Palace – the club he now manages. The team he took control of first was Halmstad, a little known Swedish club comparable to lower league teams in England today. It was not really noted outside of its own fan base. Roy Hodgson led that team to the title; twice. He went on to achieve five title successes with Malmo as he became one of the most sought after managers – in Sweden, at least. His achievements, though, were not to be sniffed at. Taking a risk to start aboard may well be seen as misguided in today’s era of mega money and pressure, but Hodgson was committed to his Swedish journey.

The Italian Job

Hodgson was being recognised as a forward-thinking and innovative football coach. As well as managing the Swiss national side, he also managed Inter Milan when the only real star name was that of Paul Ince, as Hodgson himself recalls:

“We lacked stars, apart from Paul Ince. It wasn’t the Inter we see today of household names. They weren’t the best technically but physically they were like machines. The Premier League is like that now, but back then Italy was far ahead.”

It wasn’t a successful spell but his efforts with Switzerland will never be forgotten in that country, at least. At one stage, he had them as the third best team in world football based on FIFA rankings. This was not a manager with an ego, he was honest and hardworking.

The Star Started to Wane

Despite his travels, it is surprising that it took until 1997 for Hodgson to be given his chance in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers. Rovers, at the time, were in a quick decline after winning the title just two seasons earlier with Jack Walkers’ millions and Kenny Dalglish at the helm. Stints at Liverpool, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion were taken on, although he never quite reached the heights of his days in Sweden.

You Can’t Keep a Good Man(ager) Down

In 2017, Roy Hodgson returned to club management with Crystal Palace. having spent a largely unsuccessful spell as the England national team manager, which was fraught with poor media relations and some awful results, with England slipping to 20th in the FIFA world rankings. He would have been forgiven if he decided to call it a day but he was not going to step down while he still had the energy and passion to carry on.

On Saturday 23rd February 2019, Hodgson will once again be in the dugout in the Premier League aged 71 years and 198 days old, a career that has already spanned 43 years carrying on.

He has had success in his career and he was ahead of his times when he began his journey back in 1976. In fact, if you look at his achievements, how many other English managers have really been able to match his success? Maybe be it hasn’t all been at what is seen as the top table, but he has still been a great coach.

Roy Hodgson, we salute you.

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