Football’s a battlefield, says ‘soldier’ Roy Hodgson

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Roy Hodgson faces up to what could be the final game of his management career by admitting that he needed to be a “soldier” to survive in football.

Hodgson takes charge of Crystal Palace for the 162nd and final time at former club Liverpool on Sunday after spending nearly four years at Selhurst Park.

The 73-year-old former England boss has spent 45 years as a manager and does not know whether he will return to the dugout.

Hodgson said: “I regard myself very much as a soldier, someone who’s spent his life in the trenches with the job of trying to produce winning results for football teams.

“There will be lots of people (like that), but I don’t think it’s easy for the younger managers coming into the game with the pressure they’re under.

“The type of scrutiny they get, not so much mass media anymore but social media. doesn’t make it easy at all.

“In my early years in Sweden I was shielded me a little bit from the enormity of that pressure.

“But I’m sure there’ll be lots of Roy Hodgsons later on for people to look back on over their lengthy careers.”

Hodgson started his extraordinary managerial career with Halmstad in Sweden in 1976.

His career took off at Malmo, where he won five consecutive Swedish league titles between 1985 and 1989, and he led Switzerland, Inter Milan and Blackburn before the end of the 1990s.

Taking charge of the United Arab Emirates and Finland national teams, as well as becoming manager at Fulham, Liverpool and West Brom, were among other jobs before he spent four years as England boss between 2012 and 2016.

Reflecting on a life in football management, Hodgson said: “The basis of it has not changed at all. It’s man-management and trying to get the best out of those you’ve inherited at a club or possibly brought in.

Soccer – UEFA Europa League – Group K – Liverpool v Napoli – Anfield
Roy Hodgson had a spell at Liverpool (Martin Rickett/PA)

“What has changed is the financial responsibilities of a club put on a manager to stay up every year.

“It was bad to get relegated 30 or 40 years ago, but it wasn’t catastrophic. Now we see relegation as catastrophic but, of course, three teams do get relegated every year.”

Hodgson will be 74 in August and has not ruled out taking a director of football or consultancy role in the future.

But, for the time being at least, he plans to take a break from football.

He said: “If someone comes to me and says ‘would you like to be our sporting director?’ I’d have to say no at the moment.

“I need some freedom, I need some time to clear my head. But who knows in the future?

“Why say ‘no, no, no, never, it wouldn’t interest me at all’. I don’t know how I’m going to find life.

“I’ve not had to contemplate it for 45 years because my life has been pretty clear, what it is and what you do. I don’t know what’s going to happen now.”

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