The contrasting fortunes of Chris Coleman and Roy Hodgson since Euro 2016by Andy Dillon / 01 May 2018, 13:26Tweet
MODERN football is perceived to be no country for old men.
Unless you are Roy Hodgson, just a few months shy of your 71st birthday and celebrating the greatest comeback of your managerial career.
Rewind two years and Hodgson was considered a busted flush after overseeing England’s humiliating exit from Euro 2016.
A defeat by Iceland in the last 16 stage appeared to be the end of the road for a coach lampooned professionally and personally.
At the same time Chris Coleman, 23 years younger than Hodgson, was in the fast lane with the Welsh bandwagon - rolling all the way to the last four of the same tournament, highlighted by the immortal 3-1 win over Belgium, with all its Premier League superstars.
As we approach the second anniversary of England’s group game with Wales at Euro 2016 both men have experienced contrasting fortunes, which may explain that a wise old head is better than an eager young one when it comes to the crunch.
Coleman is 47 and pondering his next move from the dole queue having been sacked for taking Sunderland down to League One in the club’s second successive relegation.
It couldn’t really be much different from the long, balmy evenings of June and July 2016 when Wales shocked us all by uniting under the dragon and getting all the way to the semi finals and defeat to eventual tournament winners Portugal.
Coleman came home a hero and Hodgson was almost forced into hiding.
Hodgson, football’s arch-intellectual, was written off as past it - until he got his hands on Crystal Palace last September. The team was rock bottom of the Premier League without a league goal and without a grain of confidence.
Hodgson and his assistant Ray Lewington - himself 61 - slowly got to grips with the dishevelled rabble of a squad and slowly worked their magic with patience.
The result was last Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Leicester City which makes Palace all but safe from relegation this season while Sunderland were already condemned to life in the third tier of English football.
What makes the great escape more remarkable is that they have done it without a huge transfer budget and while battling serious injuries to the likes of star man Wilf Zaha. And while the handling the erratic nature of striker Christian Benteke.
Hodgson remarked that he now looks at the bench on matchdays and feels more secure. But really the players are looking at him and feeling a wave of self-confidence and belief.
Hodgson also points out that steering Crystal Palace to safety would be a good achievement but only ‘one of’ his proudest.
What he has done is show that there is life after England and despite being in his 70s, Hodgson has been determined to prove it.
Coleman is discovering that life after Wales is not so rosy. Where he goes next is now a huge step in his career as a coach but he will have learned from it and it could end up prolonging his overall career.