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Graeme Souness: I Have Respect for Roy Hodgson Returning to the Hamster’s Wheel at Crystal Palace

“Roy Hodgson’s Incredible Comeback to Crystal Palace at the Age of 75: An Insight into the World of Football Management with Kevin Keegan”

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of dining with Roy Hodgson at a posh club in Mayfair. Although we weren’t close friends, we had a great time discussing his views on football and career aspirations. It was apparent that Roy wasn’t ready to give up on the game just yet. So, it came as no surprise to me when news broke that he was returning to Crystal Palace at the ripe age of 75. One can only imagine the energy and enthusiasm required to step back into the chaotic world of football management.

As a former manager myself, I understand the challenges one faces in this never-ending cycle. You feel like you want to step off the hamster wheel, but the moment you do, you’re eager to jump back on. It’s a job that never truly leaves you; it has a hold on you. I have no doubt that Roy’s infectious personality and years of experience will be an asset to the Palace players. Some may have worked with him before during his previous stint at the club, making the transition easier.

However, the pressure of management is not for the faint-hearted. If Roy succeeds in winning a few games, people will credit his experience for the turnaround. But if he doesn’t, then he’ll be branded a dinosaur, too old for the game. That’s the nature of football management today. I knew when it was my time to leave the game, which was when the negative impact of losing outweighed the joy of winning.

I’ve had moments where I questioned a manager’s decision, believing I could do better. But deep down, I know my personality doesn’t mesh well with the modern player. Most players don’t come from the local community or reside there, living in their own protected bubble. Unfortunately, they don’t feel the same connection that players once did. Nowadays, the tail wags the dog. The manager is no longer the one with all the power, which makes the job even tougher. Pep Guardiola of Manchester City is perhaps the only exception.

Overall, it takes a special character to manage in today’s football environment, which Roy possesses. He still has the drive and determination to succeed, which impressed me during our dinner. I admire Roy’s decision to return to the game he loves despite the challenges. On another note, I owe Ronnie Moran for shaping my career. He may not have been a manager, but he kept the standards high at Liverpool, driving us forward.

In a previous column, I wrote about Declan Rice and what he needs to do to become a top-class central midfielder. He needs to play more forward passes, chip in with more goals, and stop going back with his passes. These small changes can make a big difference in his game.

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