Roy Hodgson thriving in a league which is No Country for Old Men

by Andy Dillon / 05 February 2018, 13:00

THE PREMIER LEAGUE is no country for old men.

In the overspun world of English football the life expectancy of a manager is similar to that of a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during World War One.

The game is littered with the broken bodies of bruised managers picking themselves up off the floor and piecing their shattered careers back together from the latest sacking.

They are well compensated of course and could easily retire and live a life far more comfortably than you or I. Yet some of them keep coming back.

Sam Allardyce, David Moyes, Alan Pardew are all back in work to varying degrees of success. But most senior of them all Roy Hodgson at 70 has defied his body clock and is still giving it his all.

Two defeats in the Premier League since November 5 tells a compelling story of redemption for the ex-England coach ridiculed for the disaster of the 2014 World Cup and the humiliation of Euro 2016.

Rightly so too but the temptation would have been to lie low and fade from public view; call it a day and think on the bright side.

But the egos of all top class managers are way out of our league and thankfully so. Allardyce couldn’t let his England disaster be the footnote to his career and neither could Hodgson.

And while some Crystal Palace fans may complain that their team managed only a draw at home to Newcastle on Sunday, it is time to take a good look at Hodgson’s impact at Selhurst Park.

Those two Premier League losses were both against Arsenal, so there’s no shame in that.

In and around that Hodgson has solidified his squad enough to take points off Southampton, Burnley, West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton and Stoke; all the teams Palace should be getting something from.

It’s the basic requirement for survival of course but when Hodgson walked into Selhurst Park with the baggage from England and a two year contract, surely nobody thought he would do this good a job?

With a dressing room bereft of confidence, uncertain in which direction they were going on and off the field and a limited transfer budget for January, Hodgson has rebuilt his reputation alongside that of Palace’s self-confidence when they take to the pitch for every match.

They will not go down now. Like West Ham under Moyes they have put together enough belief to keep the wolves at bay.

Despite only being three points clear of third from bottom there is a sense of looking up not down now in deepest South London.

Hodgson came with a reputation for organisation above anything else. He has got his team drilled and drilled until each player knows his role blindfold.

There was a huge outcry when Steve Parish sacked Frank de Boer just four games into the season and the whole shambles should forever be a source of huge embarrassment to Palace’s chairman.

Hodgson has come in and save his reputation along with that of his own boss. Had Hodgson failed there would have been no way back for Parish, who would have taken his club down with damaged goods leading the team.

As it is, Parish should be applauded for his positive attitude towards age in the workplace.

Hodgson may well have been working as a greeter in ASDA had Parish not taken a punt on him. But he realised that for some managers the brain remains sharp while the body may fade a little.

Don’t be surprised if it isn’t too long before Hodgson is discussing a new contract at Palace to supplement his FA pension.

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