Sunday 6 May 2012

My Thoughts on the New England Manager

There's a heading I never thought would appear on this blog. And I must confess that when the dazed, owlish features of Roy Hodgson, England's new football manager, first swam into my ken, I thought Ah here we go again - a home-grown dunce to lead 'the lads' through their latest cycle of well-merited humiliation - and went back to sleep. Since then, however, I have learnt that Hodgson is a cultivated polyglot, widely read in European and English literature - the kind of man who knows and loves Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity, and whose favourite books include Josef Skvorecky's The Engineer of Human Souls. And this cultivation is not the product of a university education but of endless curiosity about the world and all that's in it (precisely the kind of curiosity that a university 'education' can kill). None of this will make any difference to the inevitable failure of his England management career - the overpaid, undertalented primadonnas of the Worst Team in the World will continue to lose - but at least Hodgson (unlike almost anyone else in English top-flight football) will have some perspective, and a rich cultural hinterland to fall back on. And he is confirmed in my personal pantheon of Sporting Heroes by another Hodgson fact I've just found out: back in the mid-Seventies, he played full back for Carshalton Athletic (my local team, if I had one). On the team's fan forum, one follower recalls that 'Roy took near-post corners that occasionally worked but were very frustrating when they didn't'. That sound like excellent preparation for his new job.


  1. Wemarkable. What's he doing in football, I wonder?

    There was a piece on the subject in the ST this week. Apparently he acted as football consultant to Sebastian Faulks for one of his novels.

  2. Marvellous, Nige! What I want to know is how, between waking and sleeping, you found all this out about a man you never thought you'd be remotely interested in?

  3. Don't forget El Tel and his co-authorship of Hazell. Though I'm not sure that counts as literature. I read somewhere that Hodgson had read the works of every winner of the Nobel prize for literature. I can't believe there are many whose business literature is who can boast that.

  4. Blimey - what a man! Carshalton's finest.
    I've just discovered that if you Google 'My thoughts on the new England manager', Nigeness is first up! At last - the mainstream!