Football: Hoddle targets swift return to Premiership

Football: Sacked England coach may be in demand on Continent but his agent rules out immediate move to Monaco
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The Independent Online
Glenn Hoddle does not blame his ignominious departure as the England coach on the media and he hopes to be back in management, possibly in the Premiership, within a few months.

"At the end of the day Glenn's a football manager, a brilliant coach, and I'd hope there'd be a number of Premier League clubs in situations [in the near future] where he could do a job for them," Dennis Roach, Hoddle's agent, said yesterday.

Roach added that Hoddle did not feel he had lost his job through being hounded by an unjust press. "It was not the English press or the football press that got Glenn out of the job," Roach said, referring to the way the media had reported Hoddle's beliefs in reincarnation.

"Glenn made a mistake. What got him out of the job was an error of judgement." Hoddle's immediate priority is to take a holiday, Roach said. "Then he'll come back and review the situation."

Suggestions that Hoddle is due to leave for Monaco today to discuss a new position were untrue, Roach added. "It's never a no-no, but there is nothing in that situation at the moment," he said.

The French side have shown an interest in Hoddle's services in the past and since releasing their coach, Jean Tigana, have struggled to perform consistently under the caretaker, Claude Puel, whose contract expires in the summer.

Hoddle enjoyed success as a player with Monaco under Arsene Wenger - including winning the French championship in 1988 - and although the club themselves have denied any current interest in Hoddle, an approach later in the year remains possible.

Equally feasible would be an approach from Spain. Pressure has been growing in recent days on Guus Hiddink, the coach at Real Madrid, a club that offered Hoddle a job before he took the England reins from Terry Venables.

Hiddink offended Real supporters with a recent interview in which he said: "Real Madrid are a famous club with a huge reputation but little money and large debts."

Should the former Netherlands coach leave, Hoddle may be short-listed to take over a side that will include Steve McManaman come the summer. Hoddle's current predicament is unlikely to damage his prospects in Spain, where top clubs care less about their coaches' off-the-wall views than their ability to secure points.

As one leading Spanish newspaper's football editor said yesterday: "Our own coaches, including Javier Clemente [the former national coach, now with Real Betis], say stupid things from time to time. But however weird their personal opinions, no one gives a toss until they start losing matches."

Controversial departures do not necessarily prevent successful reincarnations in the game, as George Graham proved with a return to management after a year in exile. For Hoddle's part, doubts over his image - especially his views on faith healing and his attachment to Eileen Drewery - should not hinder his career as long as he reappraises how he deals with the media.

Max Clifford, the public relations expert, is no stranger to rehabilitating reputations, and he said Hoddle simply needs guidance on how to conduct himself. "He'll be back in football, back in management," Clifford said. "It won't be long."

Clifford said he would advise Hoddle to be clear in his own mind what messages he wanted to put across to the media before he gave interviews. "The first thing I'd do [if he was a client] is sit him down and draft a Parkinson-style interview. I'd say to him `No Glenn, don't say things that way, you're just confusing people.' You'd have to teach him to play that [PR] game. Having done that he could start putting the record straight."

Clifford added that Hoddle should not go abroad searching for work if his motivation is merely to escape pressure. "Then you're throwing in the towel. You're not standing up to be counted. Glenn has got to clear up the current mess and then he's got loads of options."

England managers since the war have had mixed experiences in their post- international years. Sir Alf Ramsey managed Birmingham for a year between 1977 and 1978 and then retired, Don Revie never returned to the English game after deserting the national side and taking a job in Saudi Arabia, and Ron Greenwood retired from management.

Of the last three managers, Bobby Robson has been arguably the most successful, managing PSV Eindhoven (twice), Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona, but he has not (yet) tried his hand back on the domestic scene. Graham Taylor went to Wolves and is currently doing good things at Watford (for a second time), while Terry Venables experienced little but trouble at Portsmouth and Crystal Palace. His stint in charge of the Australian national side, which ended with defeat to Iran in a World Cup qualifying play-off, was his post-England high point.

This range of experiences gives a taste of the options, domestic and international, that might await Hoddle. Dennis Roach anticipates his client will receive offers from a wide range of potential employers, and does not discount a job in England outside the top flight. Hoddle's time at Swindon, he said, had been "some of his happiest in the game." Wherever Hoddle works next, Roach is confident it will be in coaching, and confident it will be soon. "He'll be back," he said.

What goes around, comes around, especially in football.

Additional reporting by

Elizabeth Nash in Spain