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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 13:48 GMT
Roy Hodgson on Europe
Udinese manager Roy Hodgson was on hand to answer your e-mails.
Hodgson's knowledge of the European game is second to none after several stints with top teams on the continent.
Hodgson left Inter Milan to manage Blackburn in 1997, followed by a spell at Grasshoppers Zurich in Switzerland and more recently FC Copenhagen in Denmark.
The start of the new season saw Hodgson return to the fray of Italian football for the first time in four years to steer Udinese through Serie A.
Michael Frame, UK
You've got a lot of experience of European football, but which league is in your opinion the best in Europe at the moment, and who are the up and coming youngsters we should keep a look out for?
It's always difficult to compare leagues, but I think certainly the Spanish league and the English Premiership would probably in most people's opinions be vying for that top spot, with the Italian league at the moment maybe slightly behind, albeit even here we have some extremely good individual players.
When it comes to young players, it's difficult for me to say because to be perfectly honest I haven't had a chance to follow the Spanish league that much, and even here in Italy it's difficult to follow all of the young players. I think England has got as many promising youngsters as any league, in people like Carrick and Cole to name just two. So I don't think England is in any way behind the top leagues.
Daniel Lombardi, United Kingdom
It's nice to see you back managing a side in Serie A - I wish you all the best. Would you ever consider coming back to manage a Premiership side?
Yes of course. It is getting harder and harder at this age to consistently work in a foreign language so I'm hoping at least one day I'm hoping to come back to England, and at least avoid all the extra problems that living abroad and working abroad gives you, albeit it has been a fantastic career and I'm not in any way complaining!
I've enjoyed it very much and I've enjoyed Italy. But I hope that one day I'll get a chance to come back and work in some capacity in English football because obviously I've never lost my contact with it and I've never lost contact with my native country.
Sam Ryley, England
Is there any job in football that you really want to have. Do you harbour an ambition to manage England?
Keith Wise, Scotland
Why not manage Scotland?
I don't harbour an ambition as such. It would be a big honour to manage a national team especially the English team or the Scottish team because obviously they're teams that I regard as being from my country, if I regard myself as being British rather than English.
But I don't harbour ambitions as such; my ambition is always to win the next game. That's how I've spent a lifetime, preparing and working hard to win the next game. I don't think much beyond that at the moment, especially here in Italy. With the climate for football managers today, I don't think anyone can think beyond the next game - the changes come thick and fast these days!
People are talking about modern football being more stressful than ever for managers - would you say there's a difference in the amount of stress Italian managers and managers in England have?
Yes, there's a more stressful life here in Italy. There's a more intelligent approach and attitude to the game in England. Here's it's becoming more like the Saudi Arabian syndrome, you're always one game away from being dismissed, irrespective of how good a job you're doing or how well the team is playing. A result that goes against you can bring about your downfall as we've seen for a lot of coaches so far.
Zoff took Lazio to the Champions League but lost his job because they didn't do well in it. Terim was seeming to do very well at AC Milan but lost his job, same with the guy at Parma. So it's not only the bottom clubs that sack people here. I know that in England there has been a lot of casualties outside the Premiership. Within the Premiership certainly I'd like to think there's a more enlightened view, still. I'd like to think so - but I could be wrong.
Joseph Antwi, UK
I have been following your team's performance - how do you intend to get Udinese back to winning ways, something you've done your entire career? Do you intend to get in some new players in the near future? Thanks very much and good luck.
We've got 35 players at the club so it is a question not of getting new players - it is an enormous headache every day organising ourselves just to keep the ones we have happy! We can field three teams, and you can understand the problems that gives. The players had all been bought before I came to the club so I had no chance to influence that.
I just work with the players that are here and try and do my best with them. But they are not players of my choosing and certainly I don't have the plans or the opportunity for me to bring any players in, because the money was spent before I was appointed by the owner of the club. I'm trying to get the team winning. Our big problem is we are doing very badly at home. The team had not won for five months at home before I came and unfortunately I have continued along the same miserable path!
Luckily we've had three away wins and a draw in our four away games so we've taken ten points out of 12 which has kept our heads above water. But the big, big problem is that we don't win at home. We'll keep working and keep preparing and hope our luck changes. In a couple of the home games we ran out of luck, like the game against Lazio where we played for a large part with nine men which isn't easy - especially against Lazio!
Why is it that Siyabonga Nomvete is not playing? Is it fitness, tactical naivete, or just a matter of him being integrated?
Partly integration, of course. He's made enormous strides forward since coming from South Africa. We appreciate him very much as a player and as a person. But it is the competition basically, we have Roberto Muzzi, one of the stars in the country, David Di Michele was bought for a lot of money, as was Carlos Pavon, and last year's top scorer Roberto Sosa and the under-21 international Vincenzo Iaquinta are with us.
So he and the Brazilian Warley make up the seven forwards vying for two spots. It's nothing he's doing wrong, but the competition for front places is enormous. At the moment we've gone with the more experienced players, but he's a very special type of player and features very much in our plans. He's an excellent footballer and a charming person - he's one of the guys who you're really pleased to see every morning.
Jon Foster, UK
Italian clubs have been less dominant in Europe in recent seasons - how does Serie A today compare with the time you were at Inter?
Well, it hasn't improved! It's reasonably similar. With Serie A, you're really talking about the 'five sisters' - the two Milan clubs, the two Roman clubs, and Juventus. Parma have fallen from grace in recent years, which was the 'sixth sister'.
But a lot of the time it depends on individual players - when there's a Zinedine Zidane alongside an Edgar Davids at Juventus, they're going to be a stronger team than without them. You have to be careful not to make sweeping judgements, because it's a lot to do with top class individuals when you're talking about winning European competitions. The Italian teams that remain in European competition will cause problems to all opponents.
Who is your pick to win the European Cup this season? It seems really open this year.
Yes, I think it is open. There are a lot of quality teams. Certainly the English teams will have a chance, the Spanish teams are going to hard to beat, and you can't write off the Italians and Germans! So it would be a brave man to predict who is going to win the European cup - and if he could tell me with certainty who's going to win I'd love to know - and maybe make some money on it!
Guy Longhorn, England
Roy, did you enjoy your spell at Bristol City? Any particular memories of that job?
Blimey, that's a long time ago - there's a thousand memories! My friend Bob Houghton, who was there before me, was clever enough to get out before the club folded completely. I remember once a Swedish reporter asked him if it was a bad time at Bristol. He said "Quite the reverse, I'm having a wonderful time, the only problems are Friday night and Sunday morning. Friday night we go to bed knowing we're going to lose and Sunday morning we have to read about it!"
What would you have changed or done, in hindsight, whilst at Blackburn to have prevented your departure? And if you had stayed, do you think Blackburn would have been in a different situation to now?
Well, not a different situation, as the club is riding high in the Premiership as we did in the first year of my time there. We had a bad start to my second season, which was largely due to players being unhappy and having to stay at the club. Colin Hendry caused us a few problems in his attempts to get away, Chris Sutton was undecided about signing a new contract and Tim Sherwood wanted to go back to London. That didn't help matters.
But most important was the injury situation, Sutton and Gallagher were outstanding in the first year, and in the second they didn't play. Every game we lost, we lost by the odd goal. With hindsight, I don't feel we did that badly, and I've spoken to one or two of the players since and they agree. We weren't that bad, but we got into that wretched spell when the results don't go your way, when a victory becomes a last minute draw.
Rather than risk the syndrome continuing, Jack Walker decided to get replace me. Unfortunately that didn't do the trick for the club and they had a couple of years in the doldrums but I'm delighted to see them back now where they belong, because it is a very good football club. The people there were very good, Jack Walker was very good and I regret that we couldn't do as well in that second year. But the reasons are so many and so nefarious it would be foolish to go into all of them. It's very hard to put your finger on which was the decisive one.
Chris Barrett, England
Roy, in your career you have had some great achievements. Apart from playing at left back for Carshalton Athletic, which would you describe as the most memorable?
It's a very good question! I suppose there are three. The first Championship win at Halmstads in 1976 with a team that were widely tipped for relegation. They had survived on goal difference the year before, and winning the Championship in my first year as coach was an achievement that will remain in my mind.
Then there were the five successive Championships at Malmo, and the success in the European Cups. And finally I suppose taking Switzerland to the World Cup and European Championship, albeit that I wasn't on the bench during the Championship because I'd gone to Inter. I would think they are what I'd consider my greatest achievements.
But quite honestly, looking back on my life, perhaps the greatest achievement of all is that I've been in a coaching position for so long. I've been out of work for very short periods in these 26 years. And I suppose the thing I'm most proud of is that I still enjoy getting up every morning and working with a group pf players and feeling that I can do a good job. That is a better testament to my career and any qualities I may have, than any individual Championship.
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