Roy's good for more than hotel bookings!
22:56 GMT, 4 May 2012
23:05 GMT, 4 May 2012
Roy who That was the headline splattered across one back page on Friday.
At least he was called Roy, not 'Woy', this time.
The man is less than a week into his
new job and Roy Hodgson has not only been mocked for the trouble he has
pronouncing his Rs, but we are now solemnly informed by a cross section
of Her Majesty's press that the Germans are not too impressed by the
identity of England's new manager either.
From Albion to England: Roy Hodgson with his West Bromwich players at
training on Friday
When asked to assess Hodgson's appointment, Germany captain Philipp Lahm looked up and said: 'I don't know him. Sorry.'
Experienced Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes added: 'I don't know him that well.'
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And Bayern Munich's Bastian
Schweinsteiger politely burped: 'I can't tell you anything about what
Hodgson is like… I've heard more about Harry Redknapp.'
Forgive me, but since when were the
people of England supposed to care what the Germans think of the
country's football manager
Yet these few Teutonic shrugs of
indifference provided the shaky foundations for some spurious argument
that Hodgson would not inspire as much fear in our international
opponents as Redknapp.
What is more, the German reaction
was said to have destroyed Football Association chairman David
Bernstein's claim that England were being led by a coach of European
I wasn't aware our FA were supposed to clear the appointment of a national coach with the citizens of Munich in advance.
What next Should we send reporters out to Argentina to ask if they approve of Hodgson
Maybe the Scots should get a vote too, since they do in just every other walk of English life
As for canvassing players, imagine if
the Munich press had rolled up at Chelsea's training ground in 2006 and
asked John Terry for his reaction to the appointment of Joachim Low
How much do you think 'JT' would have been able to tell them
Would Ashley Cole have weighed in with some considered thoughts too, once he had put down his air rifle
For starters, one of the people being held up as the litmus test for Hodgson's credentials is called Schweinsteiger.
Anyone who hasn't the wit to change a name that translates as 'Pig-mounter' should be treated with the same level of derision traditionally reserved for our national coaches.
Secondly, I like Germany a lot. It is a wonderful place to visit, despite a tendency to be easily influenced by people who want to take over the world every few decades or so.
It is more affluent, cleaner, blessed with good beer, and the populace generally enjoy a standard of living superior to the UK.
Shake on it: Hodgson is congratulated by goalkeeper Ben Foster
The only downside is a national cuisine based on a diet of ground up pigs' parts in tubes that absolutely do not look like bowel movements, whatever anyone says, so banish that thought from your mind, please.
Unsurprisingly, these things are called 'wurst'.
There is also another saving grace for us.
Some of Germany's footballers are obviously as thick as some of ours.
I mean, why should two experienced German internationals and a veteran coach know who Hodgson is
Aside from the fact that he has managed two European national sides – Finland and Switzerland – taking the latter to the giddy heights of No 3 in the world rankings
And why bother to remember that Hodgson led Fulham to the Europa League final a mere two seasons ago, beating the German side Hamburg and the then reigning German champions Wolfsburg along the way.
Where was this final held It was in a place called… hang on, it'll come to be me… it's on the tip of my tongue. Oh yes. Hamburg. In Germany.
So how silly it is to expect this Hodgson chap to be remembered in Germany when he has barely made any impact on their game.
Especially when Pigmounter has seen Redknapp's one Champions League campaign.
But let me tell you how much the Germans really value Hodgson. They thought he was good enough to take charge of their national team.
It happened in 1998, after Berti Vogts stepped down.
The German FA quickly approached Hodgson, as their president Egidius Braun admitted: 'We made contact with several German coaches and also Hodgson. I called him when he was on the team bus, but he said “sorry” he was under contract to Blackburn and would not break the agreement.'
The Ewood Park club rewarded this show of loyalty by sacking Hodgson a couple of months later.
Still, he sounds a decent sort, doesn't he
So, who is Roy
Many years ago, on a different paper, my sports editor decided he needed an interview with the Internazionale manager.
He looked up, spotted the only reporter not at lunch, and told me to get to Milan sharpish.
Just as I arrived at the training ground, a black Mercedes was driving through the exit.
'Are you leaving I asked. 'I was hoping to grab you for an interview.'
Ignorance is bliss: Philipp Lahm (left) and Jupp Heynckes (right) non-plussed by Hodgson's appointment
Hodgson told me he had a meeting in Geneva and, seeing the mild dread in my face, added: 'But I'll come back tomorrow and talk. What hotel are you in'
'I haven't booked one,' I said.
So Hodgson told me to go to the Hotel Principe di Savoia and sped away.
I'd never heard of the place, but when I turned up at the fivestar hotel's reception, the man behind the desk looked me up and down and said: 'We are full.'
'Oh dear,' I muttered. 'Mr Hodgson told me to come here.'
'Meester Hodgson THE Meester Hodgson Ah yes. We have a cancellation,' he cried.
Fingers were clicked. Bells rung. Bags whisked away.
And with that, I was led to a suite large enough to house an entire family. The Walton Family.
It had 'been arranged'.
Provocative: The Sun mocked England manager Hodgson
This might seem a silly incidental, but it illustrates Hodgson is not only a decent manager but a decent man.
Yes, he knows how international football works, he has tournament experience.
Other countries – including Germany – have courted him, whether Herr Pig-mounter has heard of this or not.
If people take the mickey out of some quirk of his speech or say he 'looks like an owl', I doubt Hodgson gives a hoot, other than to wonder how daft it all is.
As for The Sun front page that caused such a fuss, people were so outraged my newsagent sold every copy and so did my nearest supermarket.
Somebody got the joke.
But Hodgson can rise above it because he excels at his job and is well aware that nothing really matters in the grand scheme of things except winning football matches.
That will earn him respect. The rest is irrelevant.
Win, draw or lose, Hodgson will remain straightforward, he will grant people the consideration and respect they deserve and he will treat them like adults.
We'll all probably feel better about ourselves if we do the same to him.
Biggest game of the season Well, just for a week
Having been at the 'Unmissable' Manchester derby on Monday, a game billed as the 'The Biggest Match In Premier League history'™, I am now looking forward to 'The Even Bigger Biggest Match In Premier League History'™ on Sunday when Newcastle United face Manchester City.
So much is resting on this game.
It will essentially define the destiny of these two clubs for years to come.
Killer blow: Now Vincent Kompany and Manchester City face another huge challenge
For City, this is their chance to seal their superiority over United for the first time in more than four decades; a position they may well go on to consider theirs by right.
For Newcastle, the difference between finishing third and clinching a Champions League spot outright or finishing fourth and cruelly losing out if Chelsea win the final in Munich could shape their history forever.
It is an immense contest, an emotionally and physically draining battle.
Every week seems to bring a clash more epic than the last.
And everyone will be exhausted when Euro 2012 begins because of it.
Be proud of the NHS… Muamba is
It felt almost surreal to be shaking his hand and congratulating him. I heard myself say 'well done'.
And what exactly was I congratulating this man for
Just for being alive, as it happens.
Fabrice Muamba beamed a megawatt smile, said a kind word about the doctors who cared for him, and moved on, grinning his way through the well wishers at the Footballer of the Year dinner.
His heart had stopped for 78 minutes, he underwent 15 defibrillator shocks, but he was not only looking happy but, dare I say it, even glowing with health.
People kept declaring it was a 'miracle'. But it was no such thing.
Muamba got lucky.
Glowing: Fabrice Muamba emerges from the tunnel at Bolton
He was saved by the skills of the consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Deaner, who happened to be at the game and ran on the pitch to help.
Admittedly, it is a contradictory fortune, like being run over by an ambulance. But he was fortunate that in his moment of absolute crisis an expert was on hand.
A cheer for the doctors.
Job seeker: Capello
We all noisily support our various teams this weekend. But we should all support the National Health Service with the same loud enthusiasm.
The NHS saves lives every day. It is one of the institutions that makes Britain great.
That's rich, Capello
Fabio Capello would like it to be known he is in London and job hunting.
He'd prefer a Premier League club for a couple of years, one with a lot of money, within walking distance of his flat near Chelsea.
Hmm. I wonder what job he might have in mind
Amusingly, in the same interview he said he is worried Hodgson has such a short time to build team spirit before the European Championship Finals, presumably forgetting he walked out and left England in this mess in the first place.
Better still, he complained about his 'limited contact' with the players during his period in charge.
This from the same Capello who was known for hardly ever communicating with his squad, leaving deposed captains to find out the news via the media and collected 6m a year from the national coffers without ever bothering to learn the language properly.
For sale: Chelsea hope to buy the Battersea Power Station site
Chelsea are planning to build a new stadium at Battersea Power Station. Yeah, and pigs might fly.
Oh, hang on. That's where it happens.