Roy Hodgson: Zoltán Gera could be a good national team head coach years from now

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2023.03.09. 08:33
In his presentation, Roy Hodgson underlined: improvement is part of sports (Photo:ábor Baricsa)
After his Pro License game coaching course presentation, Roy Hodgson answered some questions from Nemzeti Sport.


At the invitation of the Hungarian Football Association, Roy Hodgson came to Hungary and gave a lecture to the students of the Pro License game coaching course on Tuesday. The 75-year-old coach has worked at clubs such as Internazionale and Liverpool and was captain of the Swiss and English national teams, but Hungarian fans know him best for coaching Zoltán Gera as manager at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion. One of his most memorable successes was when the Hungarian national team midfielder of 97 caps was on the team: he lead Fulham to the 2009-2010 Europa League final, albeit in a 2-1 defeat to Atlético Madrid.

After the presentation, the coach answered Nemzeti Sport's journalists' questions with the help of the MLSZ communications department. Started off with a lengthy talk about his experiences with Zoltán Gera.

"First of all, I think Zoltán Gera has what it takes to be a really good coach at an elite level. And secondly, I think he was a very good footballer who really understands the game, which is a good basis to become a great coach. It's more credible for the players he's coaching to know that their coach has also played at their level, in the games they've played, and so he'll know exactly when and what problems these footballers have. Zoltán's leadership is also something that makes the players not only respect and accept him but believe in him because he inspires them when he conveys his passion for the game. Zoli loves the game and has done everything he can to become an excellent footballer. His desire, his passion, his energy – it all rubs off on the players he works with, I'm sure of it. He has all the skills and experience to become a Hungarian national team head coach one day, or even head coach of a Hungarian top-flight team in years to come. But I can even imagine him returning to England as a coach because I think he has the ability to do that. I have not met anyone at West Bromwich or Fulham who has spoken badly about Zoltán Gera. And believe me, I have met plenty of people who have always badmouthed people... but everyone loves and respects him. What I also respect him for is that he works hard to learn as much as he can in his new profession," the expert said.

Roy Hodgson gave a lecture at the Pro Licences game coaching course (Photo:ábor Baricsa)
Roy Hodgson gave a lecture at the Pro Licences game coaching course (Photo:ábor Baricsa)

Hodgson was Gera's coach for both of the aforementioned teams, so the question “What memories do you have of Gera, the footballer?” was obvious.

"Zoltán was a true team player, who played football not to win individual accolades, but to help his team win. He did a lot of things – that you could say were not the fun side of things – just to help the team win. He could always be held up as an example to others in training, and every training session was equally important for him, whether he could learn from it or not. Moreover, he had a real camaraderie with his teammates and had a fascinating personality. I was very fortunate to work with players who bought the product I was trying to sell them, and Zoltán was at the forefront of that with my teams. This has led to a successful period for Fulham and would not have been the case if it wasn't for players like Zoli and his attitude that has rubbed off on his fellow players. In today's football, there is often no time for coaches to find these players and integrate them into the team. Most of the time, we have to work with players who consider themselves unsuccessful because the previous coach was dismissed because of their poor performances. I was very lucky with Fulham in that respect," said Roy Hodgson.

The expert also revealed how much football has changed since he started coaching almost 50 years ago.

"As far back as I can remember, it was always about imposing our will on the other team. In the eighties, when Crystal Palace went to Manchester City's home ground with both teams wanting to win the game, they got into a fight and happened what happened. Nowadays, the game is much less straightforward. In modern football, it is all about forcing the opposition into mistakes; the better team attacks and tries to possess the ball as high up the opposition's side as possible while trying to do it as close to the opposition's goal as possible. And the weaker team's tactic is to put a wall in front of its goal. Liverpool and Manchester City are so successful because they are very good at attacking, and their players are quick to find holes in the still somewhat disjointed defensive wall after ball possessions," Hodgson explained.

"Actually, I disagree with the opinions about how football is much different today than it used to be. When Bob Houghton was the coach at Malmö in the second half of the 70s and I coached Halmstad, we dominated the Swedish league with this attacking game. The off-side rule was different then, so our midfielders and forwards could attack very high up, while our defenders were positioned very high up and our trap worked. Then we had to become more careful with the change of the off-side rule. So, today's teams don't attack more than we did at Halmstad and Malmö 50 years ago," he recalled, then shared how the coaching profession is different today than it was before.

"As far as coaches are concerned, the most important thing is to have the proper knowledge and a good personality. A coach needs to be able to make his players believe that they can be successful with him; but beyond that, he has to motivate and lead the team. Many people say how much better football used to be, but I disagree. Improvement is part of sports: for example, the game was completely different fifteen years ago and will be different in fifteen years. How much the different football pitches have changed, or you only have to think about the size of the professional staff that used to work for a team and how many people are working with a team today - team doctors, physiotherapists, masseurs, nutritionists, and so on - and they have all just made the game better. Brian Clough once said that football was better in the old days. If we watch a game from forty or fifty years ago, the game was much slower than it is today. We can't imagine what football will be like in 50 years; all we know is that it will be different from what it is now and that it will have for sure" the coach said.

Roy Hodgson coached Zoltán Gera too at Fulham between 2008 and 2010 - and he knew Gera could make a difference (Photo: Getty Images)
Roy Hodgson coached Zoltán Gera too at Fulham between 2008 and 2010 - and he knew Gera could make a difference (Photo: Getty Images)
György Mezey (left), Sándor Varga (center) and Roy Hodgson (right) chatting (Photo:ábor Baricsa)
György Mezey (left), Sándor Varga (center) and Roy Hodgson (right) chatting (Photo:ábor Baricsa)

Translatedy by Vanda Orosz

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