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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 19:04 GMT

Sport: Football

Wilkinson shocked over Hoddle affair

Wilkinson: No thoughts on reincarnation

Interim England football coach Howard Wilkinson has made his debut before the media, saying he was "very shocked" at being offered the job after the sacking of Glenn Hoddle.

The Hoddle File
Wilkinson, the FA's technical director, refused to comment on the subject which brought down Hoddle - his religious views on reincarnation and disabled people.

He said: "My specific thoughts about reincarnation - I don't have any. It's not a subject to which I can say I've devoted a lot of thought."

Harold Wilkinson talks to the press at Wembley Stadium
"But come next Wednesday, if things are not going well, I may start thinking about it", he joked, referring to England forthcoming match with world champions France.

Goldfish bowl

Wilkinson described football management as "living in a goldfish bowl".

Howard Wilkinson talks to BBC Radio 5 Live's Football Correspondent Mike Ingham
He said that he harboured fears over how he would be scrutinised by the press, but figured that in the game's top flight had to accept the "rough with the smooth".

In a good-humoured press conference, the stand-in coach said he was carrying out the role as a "charity function".

BBC Sports Correspondent Neil Bennett: "Howard Wilkinson knows that the pressure will be on"
Wilkinson said: "Unfortunately or as a fact of life we have to live in a goldfish bowl.

Sometimes we don't like it but we have to deal with it.

"Sometimes it is very difficult but it is not going to change."

[ image: Low morale: Bad times at the home of English football]
Low morale: Bad times at the home of English football
Wilkinson said he had spoken to Hoddle earlier in the day and the ousted coach had wished him well.

Turning to press scrutiny, he said: "My brief is to look after the team until next Thursday (after a friendly match against France).

"I reckon that if I am very, very careful between now and then, there won't be much about me to look into.

"If you are lucky enough to be a football manager and you are lucky enough to be well paid, you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth," he said. "Up to now I have had it smooth."

Hoddle 'hounded'

Earlier in the day, the former chairman of the Football Association Sir Bert Millichip led accusations that Glenn Hoddle was hounded from his job by intense media and political pressure.

Football fans give their reaction to Howard Wilkinson becoming England manager
He attacked comments from the Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sports Minister Tony Banks, describing their statements as "unforgivable".

Hoddle lost his England job after four days of intense pressure after telling a newspaper that disabled people were paying for the sins of previous lives.

[ image: Eileen Drewery: 'I'm protrayed as a freak']
Eileen Drewery: 'I'm protrayed as a freak'
The coach apologised, saying he had been misinterpreted. His controversial spiritual advisor with whom he shares these views, Eileen Drewery, has also accused the press of portraying her as a freak and orchestrating a witch-hunt.

Writing in the national press, sports pundits have said that Mr Blair's intervention proved the turning point in the FA's thinking.

Former prime minister John Major led Conservative attacks on Mr Blair, accusing him of "endulging in mob mentality".

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