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Hodgson: I could stop United with a pub team

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England manager Roy Hodgson has been parping gently on his own trumpet.

Laurence Griffiths

With just a few weeks to go until the World Cup, Roy Hodgson, manager of perennial hype-sponges England, appears to be in pugnacious mood. Talking to World Soccer magazine about himself, and his abilities and capacities and professional worth, he's been making grand claims about the power of organisation:

You can organise a pub team not to let in six goals against Manchester United. Give me six months and I'd organise them, if they had a half-decent goalkeeper and a couple of centre halves who can get in the way of the ball.

It's not that grand a claim, of course; United have been appalling. Anyway, this does rather suggest that he's in the wrong sort of managerial job. Managers of England don't get six months; they get a week here, and a week there, and a couple of weeks before a tournament.

I consider myself to be in the same position as a lawyer. I studied to be a professional. I like to think that I'm good at my profession. Just as if I was to go to a lawyer, I'd go to someone who was good and really knows his job, even if I have to pay more.

It's nice for people to believe some managers are born with a magical quality to transform bad into good. I don't. It's about leadership, practice, repetition and bloody hard work.

And maverick motivational techniques. "Wayne, I could stop you scoring with a representative XI from the Red Lion and Artichoke." Oh, that'll get him going.