By Sam Smith
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson says he feels no older than he did 20 years ago after signing a contract extension with the South Londoners.
The 71-year-old’s new deal runs until the summer of 2020 but he claims he still has the same hunger and desire as he did many decades ago.
Hodgson said: “I’m really pleased about it [ the new contract]. It’s something that we discussed at the end of last season. The club are moving forward and are supporting me in every way they can. As a result it was never going to be a problem for me to sign a new contract. I’m pleased and very happy that the club feel I’m the right person to take it forward.
“I think I still have the same hunger and desire. I presume the club thinks so too by giving me this new contract. They must make judgements every day in their dealings with me and they have shown that they are interested by giving me this new deal.”
Hodgson replaced Frank de Boer as Eagles boss in September after last season’s woeful start. Palace lost their opening seven games but the former Fulham boss – who in Saturday’s season opener visits the side he took to a Europa League final – guided the South Londoners to a remarkable 11th-place finish, only missing out on the top half on goal difference.
“I stopped ageing at 60 long ago,” he joked. “I decided 60 was enough. Age is of course just a number and I don’t feel any different to how I felt even 20 years ago, let alone ten years ago. In fact some days I feel even better. It’s just a question of confidence in terms of being able to do the job. I have never doubted in my confidence to be able to do the job and luckily for me, neither do Crystal Palace.”
Hodgson has always been keen to play down talk of his experience. His 42-year managerial career has taken him across Europe, to national teams and has seen him in charge of some of the world’s biggest clubs with some of the world’s most notorious talents. But he feels each situation in football is different and rarely requires experience to help make a decision.
“Experience is a very strange thing. In football decisions are very much day-to-day or sometimes even hour-to-hour situations. You can’t prepare for every situation you’re going to face because they’re coming up all the time. No match is ever the same. What happens in a game can quite often be vastly different [to other games], perhaps [the same game can] even be vastly different to how you envisage it in your own mind.
“A lot of decisions you have to make are ones in the spur of the moment. I presume sometimes experience can help you there but you wouldn’t be aware of it until such time has occurred. If you are lucky and you have made a decision that is the right one, you might think back and say ‘lucky I didn’t follow my first thought there, experience has taught me to do this rather than something else’.
“Experience is not necessarily exaggerated, but most of us who can call ourselves experience don’t actually know when our experience is doing us good or not. We just try to do the job properly and as best as we can.
“My experience tells me not to try to do the job all alone, not to ignore all the really good advice around me. There is a lot of knowledge around the football club. All of us who have
had similar careers to my own have seen the rise of sports science and the enormous amount of information that can help us with the planning of training sessions and keeping players in shape. There are lots new things that I have been very keen to see develop and to embrace.”
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