Top 5 British managers abroad: 2. Roy Hodgson

Here’s number 2 on our list. The man we call ‘Woy’ and others call ‘Royson’….It’s Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson

Whilst Hodgson’s coaching career in England certainly as had questionable phases (Liverpool) as much as its impressive moments (Fulham’s Europa League run etc), it doesn’t, however, come close to the cultural and tactical impact he’s had on Swedish football. To add to that Hodgson collected a huge amount of trophies during his days trotting around Europe.

Hodgson, like many modern pro-manager’s playing careers (Mourinho, Villa Boas etc), wasn’t even close to the bright lights of professional football. His playing days were mainly limited to Crystal Palace youth side and non-league clubs such as Tonbridge Angels, Carshalton Athletic and Gravesend & Northfleet. At the age of just 23, however, Hodgson had already completed his qualifications to be a coach.

At the grand old age of 28 Hodgson, due to a recommendation from fellow Swedish based Brit Bobby Houghton, packed his bags for the west coast of Sweden, more specifically Halmstad BK. The previous two seasons had seen Halmstad marginally avoid relegation from the top tier twice, the thought of such a team winning the Allsvenskan (Swedish championship) was considered laughable.

Like close friend Houghton had done at Malmo, Roy Immediately got to work on shaping his side to play in a very British style. The usual sweeper system, a German trait as used throughout Sweden, was out and in came the solid 442. The defence that was so used to playing deep would now pressurize the opposition by pushing forward thus letting the offside rule become a deterrent in itself.

Mr Hodgson used to keep us out here for two-and-a-half, three hours a night, Before he came, we would play 11-a-side training matches, or leave the ball behind and go running through the forest. But Roy changed everything.

He would tell us how we should support each other in the defence, how the midfield players should press up, and the forwards make their runs. Then every few minutes it would be ‘Stop, stop, stop! Look, you can go here, you can go there, you can support this area.

Jingblad Halmstad

The tactical changes were an instant success as opposition sides were bamboozled into consistently giving the ball back to the harrying Halmstad midfielders; the counter-attacking style adopted also made Hodgson’s side high scorers. Halmstad defied the critics who tipped the club for relegation and went on to claim a first Allsvenskan championship in their history, another followed in 1979.

After an unsuccessful spell at home with Bristol and stays with second division Swedish sides IK Oddevold and Örebro SK, Hodgson returned to the Allsvenskan with Sweden’s top club Malmo. It was there that Hodgson went on to win five consecutive league championships and two Swedish cups.

By this time the Hodgson tactical way of thinking had become the norm throughout the country. It was widely regarded that it was his teachings that attributed to Sweden’s semi-final placing at World Cup 1994.

Roy created a football revolution in Sweden, I don’t believe we would have reached the semi-final of the 1994 World Cup without his influence. He had taught so many of the players in that team: Martin Dahlin, Jonas Thern. Even Freddie Ljungberg, who didn’t train with him, still learned the game the Hodgson way.

Bengt Sjoholm championship winner 1979

After a spell at Swiss club Neuchâtel Xamax, Hodgson took over as manager of the Swiss national side from Uli Stielike on 26 January 1992. Having not qualified for a major tournament since 1966, the Swiss were made outsiders to qualify for World Cup 94 from a qualifying group that contained eventual tournament finalists Italy and the more fancied Portugal and Scotland. The Swiss, steered by their English manager’s tactical nous, stormed the group losing only one game.

Hodgson proudly took his side of overachievers to the US have they exited the tournament with head held high after passing through the group stage and losing in the final 16 to Spain 3-0.

Not swayed by his sides World Cup exit previously, Hodgson’s Euro 96 qualification went as smoothly as the previous as Switzerland yet again lost only one game. At this point the side was at the height of its powers and a FIFA world ranking of 3rd reflected yet another ‘water into wine’ success story for the Hodge.

Upon leading his team at Euro 96, Hodgson decided to join the rebuilding phase at Inter Milan. A seventh and then third Seria A finish followed in the two seasons Hodgson spent with the club. A rather sour reception from his own fans after a UEFA Cup final defeat to the un-fancied Schalke, however, convinced the Croydon-born manager that his time with the Italian side was up.

The globetrotting continued with moves (and trophies) to Danish side Copenhagen and Norway’s Viking before making his return to England.

Whilst never totally cementing his status as one of the great Premier League managers, through legacy and number of trophies alone, Hodgson’s impact abroad is unquestionable and deserves to be listed as one of our greatest British managers abroad.

Overseas Honours
Halmstads BK: Allsvenskan (2): 1976, 1979
Örebro SK: Division 2 North (1) 1984
Malmö FF: Allsvenskan (5): 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 Svenska Cupen (2): 1985–86, 1988–89
Inter Milan: UEFA Cup Runner-Up (1): 1997
Copenhagen: Danish Superliga (1): 2000–01 Danish Super Cup (1): 2001

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Top 5 Best British Managers Abroad: 1 – Bobby Robson