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Roy Hodgson not pining for quiet life despite Covid bringing ‘most trying’ times

The 73-year-old admits the coronavirus pandemic has thrown up trials and tests he has not experienced in his long coaching career.

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At 73, Roy Hodgson is the oldest manager in the Premier League (Ian Walton/PA)

At 73, Roy Hodgson is the oldest manager in the Premier League (Ian Walton/PA)

At 73, Roy Hodgson is the oldest manager in the Premier League (Ian Walton/PA)

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson admits the testing circumstances of playing football through the Covid-19 pandemic have made his early days of management in Sweden seem “almost like paradise”.

The 73-year-old, though, is not ready to contemplate a more quiet life on the beach just yet.

Hodgson’s coaching career has covered spells at the likes of Malmo, the Switzerland national team as well as Inter Milan, Blackburn, a stint in the United Arab Emirates, Denmark and Finland before taking over at Fulham in 2017, guiding the west London club to the Europa League final.

A brief stay at Liverpool was followed by bringing stability at West Brom, which then saw him appointed to the England hotseat in May 2012, succeeding Fabio Capello.

After his tenure came to an end following exit from Euro 2016 to minnows Iceland, Croydon-born Hodgson returned to the dugout at his boyhood club Palace in September 2017, and has since become the oldest manager in the Premier League.

Hodgson admits the current climate of having to deal with tough coronavirus restrictions – which have seen the squad change in club lounges or empty concourses – as well as playing without fans have pushed everyone’s resolve.

“I don’t think it has been more testing in terms of preparing players for games,” said Hodgson, whose distinguished coaching career started out with Swedish side Halmstad in 1976

“But what has made it difficult is we have done it in the most trying and weirdest of circumstances – playing in front of no crowds and having to jump through hoops in every way shape and form just to make certain the game can be put on.

“Last season, we had so many games shunted in at the end to get it all finished, then there was hardly any time to gather your breath or get a little time away from football, you are back in it again.

“It that respect it has been by a far way the hardest experience.

“Having said that, thinking back to those times in Sweden, it was almost like paradise now because you had three-and-a-half months to start off to prepare the season, then you played for four or five months, then had a couple of months off and started again.

“It all seemed like a very calm time compared to the Premier League where the games come thick and fast, when each one puts you under pressure.”

Palace host Burnley on Saturday looking to push up towards the top half of the table.

Despite all of the trials and tribulations over the years, Hodgson says his enthusiasm for the game remains as “great as ever”.

“I would defy any manager who takes the job seriously to honestly say: ‘there has never been a day in my life where I have thought: wouldn’t it be nice to go to a beach instead of having to go back to the training ground and work in football again?’,” Hodgson said.

“Of course they are the very same people whom when the day comes when they find they have to go to the beach, then they can’t wait to get back on the television in the hope of getting a job so they can get through it all again. It is part and parcel of our lives.

“There are days when, especially after bad results, you really have to kick yourself into action and make sure you get your head right.

“But at the moment, I must say if you ask me the question now: ‘do you still enjoy it coming to the training sessions, even in bitterly cold weather like we are experiencing at the moment, and getting the chance to be out on the field with the players?’ then I would say that my desire and my enthusiasm is probably as great as ever.”

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