Wednesday 20 March 2019

Age no barrier for Hodgson as he approaches Premier League milestone

Life is good for Palace boss and Attenborough admirer Roy.

Roy Hodgson is closing on a milestone.
Roy Hodgson is closing on a milestone.

By Declan Warrington, Press Association Sport

Roy Hodgson is taking inspiration from Sir David Attenborough having become the oldest manager in the Premier League.

The Crystal Palace boss will be 71 years and 199 days old when Palace visit Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday.

That will see the former England boss surpass the late Sir Bobby Robson by eight days, having already overtaken the retired Sir Alex Ferguson.

And, with his team improving and his club both ambitious and keen to encourage stability, Hodgson is expected to remain at Selhurst Park for some time.

December’s draw with Neil Warnock’s Cardiff already represented the first Premier League fixture overseen by two managers aged over 70 – and a 92-year-old who has helped convince Hodgson he still has much to give.

The Palace boss explained: “When you watch Sir David Attenborough working and see his documentaries on TV, you’d have to be a very strange person to start saying ‘I don’t think it’s very good because he’s old’.

“Most of us think he’s very, very good, whatever age he happens to be. He was good when he first started doing them and he’s still good today.

“That gives me the encouragement in football; why should it be any different to TV broadcasting, or documentary-making?

“Even people like Sir Bobby and Sir Alex, who started relatively young, were a little bit older than me when they started their careers.

“But it’s an achievement I can be happy about – if you call getting old and still being in a job an achievement.

“I still very much enjoy this work, my day-to-day life – I’m always looking forward to the next game – so it’s nice to still be in a job like this at this high level.

“Everyone was pointing out that Bob was in his 70s (at Newcastle); I probably wouldn’t have thought that (was) a milestone I’d ever get close to. Having done so, I’ve got to be pleased about that.

“I’m certainly pleased to be mentioned in the same breath as people like Bobby Robson, who was an excellent manager, excellent football coach and excellent person, and who I was lucky enough to be able to call a friend.”

Hodgson added: “I made a conscious decision to stop (acknowledging my age) at 60.

“The game changes (for) the better. It becomes more professional, the athletes become quicker, stronger, they prepare for games well.

“The thing that allows you to keep pace is being out there with them every day. You’re able to see the progress that they’re making and happily tap into it.

“I don’t know that it’s a major problem, getting older. The manager-player relationship anywhere is close and important but focuses on the professional side of your life.”

A demonstration of Hodgson’s and Palace’s forward planning came on Friday when they revealed Martin Kelly had signed a new contract to commit to the club until 2021.

However, like fellow defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kelly will miss out at Leicester because of injury.

Press Association

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