Fact of the matter is, though, there is a dearth of top class managers on the market just now, so the 62-year-old’s remarkable achievements of last season were always likely to catch the eye. Some considered him too old for the Reds job but he deserves his chance to coach at elite level again which is why I tipped him to move on to either Juventus or Liverpool three months ago. I hope you backed it.
If the Football Association wasn’t such a clueless bunch of old air biscuits in blazers they might have got him first but I expect they will wait two weeks, add £12m to the £50m they have already spent compensating managerial staff over the last six years, paying off Fabio Capello and then suddenly realise there’s no-one around to take the poisoned chalice that is the England manager’s job.
To be honest, the Liverpool hotseat isn’t too dissimilar, given that the club is steeped in crippling debt, out of the Champions League and will struggle to hold on to Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard this summer (although given the way they’ve played at this World Cup that could be a blessing in disguise). Yossi Benayoun, the only creative player other than Gerrard, is Chelsea bound – which leaves Hodgson burdened by enormous expectations but without the means to fulfil them.
It has been reported that the reason the Anfield negotiations have been so protracted is because Hodgson has been seeking assurances over a summer transfer war chest. But if anyone can turn water into wine it’s Sir Roy; a man who saved relegation-bound Fulham from the drop three years ago and turned them into world beaters last season on a shoestring budget.
Which is precisely why the FA has missed a trick here. Capello is undoubtedly a successful coach but he has always done it at a big club, with a huge budget and star players. There’s not exactly a lot he can do with England’s limited talent pool. But this is where Sir Roy excels – bringing the best out of honest, but not exceptional players, through specialised coaching, excellent man-management and a cunning tactical mind.
Having coached international sides (Switzerland, Finland, United Arab Emirates), major club sides (Inter Milan) and even lesser-known lights in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, the 2009/10 LMA Manager of the Year’s experience is peerless and at 62 he is the perfect age for the England job. But I suspect the FA overlooked him because he’s English.
Whatever his budget at Anfield I sincerely wish Sir Roy all the best because I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the chance to manage a big club again. If his hands are tied financially then his Liverpool side will be no oil painting, but they will be hard to beat – which has got to be the first priority as Liverpool look to stop the rot.
As for Fulham, you have to feel sorry for them, because like so many smaller clubs, the SuperWhites have become a victim of their own success. Hodgson is off, Mark Schwarzer looks destined for Arsenal and Brede Hangeland, Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora may well be snaffled soon. But at least a leading Premier League club has turned to an Englishman at long last. It’s just a shame the FA didn’t.