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England Manager Interviewed at Roses Opening Ceremony

Roy Hodgson, Steve Richards and Greg Dyke

After a draw at the Opening Ceremony boxing, Sports President Cass Brown introduced guest speakers Greg Dyke, the university chancellor and chair of the Football Association, and England Football Manager Roy Hodgson.

Roy Hodgson, Steve Richards and Greg Dyke
Roy Hodgson, Steve Richards and Greg Dyke

The conversation was hosted by York alumni and political journalist Steve Richards, who began by asking, in light of Ed Miliband’s efforts to become the next Prime Minister, what it was like being offered top jobs.

Were you surprised? Did you have any doubts?

Hodgson: I felt honoured and very thrilled. Surprised? I don’t know. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing. Three years into the job and I enjoy it more and more each day.

Dyke: I thought it would be different. The FA is a pretty bureaucratic organisation. Getting change is quite difficult.

Do you think it is harder being England manager now compared to the 70s and 80s when most of the top class would be English and Scottish?

Hodgson: The premier league is so strong these days. For example, Welbeck is unbelievable. What Greg is trying to do is get good young talents from our academies.

Can we get more home grown players?

Dyke: It’s very difficult. We’re trying to change the rules about the number of home-grown kids in the squads. We’ll see if we succeed.

Do you think there is a problem with the English players in terms of flare, skill, confidence?

Hodgson: No, I don’t at all. I would very much doubt I would find that commitment in Italy, Spain or France. Perhaps with a bit of support, as well. It would be quite nice to take you lot to Wembley next time. You’re all very welcome to come. (Cheers)

Are you broadly optimistic about England’s chances?

Dyke: We are going to win the World Cup in 2022! (Cheers)

Will you still be England manager in 2022?

Hodgson: Yeah. In a wheelchair or a Zimmer frame. (Laughs)

When you get together for the build-up to a match or a tournament, some managers keep a distance or can be quite chummy with players. How do you approach this relationship?

Hodgson: People don’t come to the football match to watch me, they come to watch the players. I can tell you a story from when I was a young coach talking to a very experienced coach. He said, if I say to you, come to the cinema with me tomorrow night, what’s your first question? I said, who’s in the film? He said, exactly. You don’t ask who the director is, you ask who is in the film. I’m a lot older than them. Chumminess is going to be ridiculous. It’s a case of finding somewhere where we can hopefully have a bit of a laugh together.

Roy, you speak many languages and read novels. Presumably the players don’t share those interests? Where is the common ground?

Hodgson: The common ground is football. (Cheers) They players want someone they think can help them become better players and a better team. They don’t expect cultured conversation.

Roy, tell us about your thinking behind making Wayne Rooney captain.

Hodgson: We’ve been very lucky. We’ve seen three natural captains in John Terry, Steven Gerard and Frank Lampard. Terry disappeared very early on. Both Gerard and Lampard retired. You think, who is the next best man now to take on the job? Rooney is an excellent player and I find him a good character. My only concern was the press. I asked him, I want you as captain but I understand there have been plenty of situations where you’ve found yourself on the front and back page of the newspapers. Are you prepared to take on the job? He said yes. It was very simple. I was very happy for him to do it.

What about Harry Kane? From nowhere he’s emerged from Tottenham, and you put him in the team. Was that an easy decision?

Hodgson: Greg was talking about the pathways of getting these players. Harry was lucky that he was given a chance to show what he could do.

Why does that not happen more often?

Dyke: There are some managers who don’t like picking English players. Some clubs would rather spend money on an average talent from somewhere else than give a kid a chance. The average manager now lasts 18 months. Why would you take a risk on kids? That’s the problem, you know.

What are your reflections on this season?

Dyke: It’s been a good season after a disappointing World Cup.

Hodgson: If you lose your first game, it’s a very small margin. But then you lose the second one, and you’re out of the competition. After that, we lost players like Gerard and Lampard. I fully agree with Greg. I hope we can win the next tournament.

Dyke: We’ll win in 2022, we will. Honestly, we will get there.

What’s your take on the Premier season this year?

Hodgson: It’s been a very good one, with the top 4/5 teams really pulling away from the others. If you’re not in the top 6, you’re in danger of elimination.

The speakers left the ring to a standing ovation, and made their way outside to officially open the tournament.