Roy Hodgson is set to become the oldest individual to ever manage a Premier League match when he takes his Crystal Palace side to Leicester City tomorrow evening, prompting the BBC to put together a special piece honouring his achievements within the game.
Passing the late great Bobby Robson’s milestone is no mean feat and to their credit, BBC Sport have pulled in contributions from former FA man Dan Ashworth, ex-England coach and current Sky Sports analyst Gary Neville, pundit and former Blackburn player Chris Sutton, Hodgson’s right-hand man Ray Lewington and Roy himself for a long feature discussing his career in impressive detail.
Whilst he’s never been given the sort of respect afforded to the likes of Wenger, Ferguson and Mourinho by those who solely pay attention to the English game, his work with the likes of Inter Milan, Malmo and the Swiss National team saw him recognised on the continent as a truly great tactical mind long before his experiences with Fulham and West Brom.
It’s easy to brush over it now but the job he did at Craven Cottage has seen him go down as one of the club’s truly legendary managers, guiding them to the final of the Europa League in what was a truly magical season by the River Thames. Yes, his career hasn’t been a relentless success story, no one who’s been in the game half as long as him can boast that but for sheer longevity and adaptability, there have been few better.
You only need to read the testimony of the men picked to talk about Roy in the piece above to get a sense for his reputation within the game. To the younger generation, he’s seen as a kindly elder-statesman whose quiet nature sets him apart from many but for those who’ve seen him up close and personal, his character and coaching style deviate massively from the easily made stereotypes.
It’s difficult to know how much longer Roy will continue in his role as Palace boss. On paper, he’s contracted to the club for another season after this one and in truth, should he be happy to fulfil that, I struggle to see Steve Parish looking to break that bond but beyond 2020, it’s hard to imagine him signing fresh terms in SE25.
With Palace still in the FA Cup, there’s something hugely romantic about the prospect of Hodgson guiding the club to its first ever major trophy before embarking on a European tour in his final season but reality often has a way of puncturing those high-reaching dreams. For now, the club’s fans can look towards the potential for glory with wide eyes, safe in the knowledge that the man at the helm would love nothing more than to guide his hometown club to a most historic of triumphs as a final flourish in an already stellar career.