Exclusive - Hodgson on the Hammers

England manager Roy Hodgson was full of praise for West Ham United on his recent visit to the Boleyn Ground
England manager Roy Hodgson was full of praise for West Ham United on his recent visit to the Boleyn Ground.

Hodgson was in the Betway Stand to watch the Hammers put Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea to the sword on Saturday, with a winning goal created and scored by two Englishmen with hopes of being named in his squad in the near future – Aaron Cresswell and Andy Carroll.

With James Tomkins and Carl Jenkinson shackling the Blues attack and Mark Noble outshining Chelsea’s star-studded midfield, the Three Lions boss would have left east London with plenty to ponder ahead of next month’s friendly internationals with Spain and France.

Speaking exclusively to West Ham TV, Hodgson said he was keeping a close eye on West Ham’s five Englishmen.

“There are five English players and we know them well,” he said. “Carl Jenkinson has already played for us, of course, and Andy Carroll was an important part of our Euro 2012 team.

“In Tomkins, Cresswell and Mark Noble, there are good football players who are quite capable of playing for England, but they face competition because one or two others who have done well over the last few years.

“It’s all a question of competition and keeping an eye from my point of view to make sure I’m not missing any.”
West Ham have fielded nine English players in total this Premier League season, including promising youngster Reece Oxford, as well as a cosmopolitan mix of outstanding talents from across Europe, Africa and South America.

Hodgson has been hugely impressed by what he has seen from the boys in Claret and Blue.

“It’s very good. I think they’ve started the season quite brilliantly and some of the players brought in by Slaven and the owners have really shown that they are top-class players,” the England manager told West Ham TV.

“Not only do they have potential, but they have shown they are top-class players straight away, so I assume that everyone at West Ham must be delighted with the way the team is playing, the way the atmosphere is at the club and in the dressing room, because you can see a tremendous unity of spirit on the field.

“I imagine it is praise all-round and long may it continue. Everyone here knows and is wise enough the season is long and it’s great to get off to a good start, but there is still a lot of hard work to do to maintain this position until the end of the season.”

Hodgson has been a regular guest at the Boleyn Ground since becoming England manager in 2012, but his visits to E13 date back more than 50 years.

“I love coming here,” he enthused. “The whole club is a real football club, this one, steeped in tradition with fantastic roots. The owners and Karren Brady look after me so well, as does Sir Trevor Brooking of course, who I worked with for three years and admire enormously.

“It’s a real pleasure to come here just to see friends and I always see a good game here, so it’s well worth the effort coming from south west London to east London, as it’s always worth it when I get here!
“My memories go back a long time to the Ron Greenwood days and, of course, watching all those famous players who went on to win the World Cup for England.

“And also coming to watch a guy called Johnny Byrne who might also have been in that 1966 team had he not got injured just before the World Cup, as he was a large part of the build.

“He was a favourite player of mine and my friends at the time, so we’d come over from Croydon to watch him whenever we could.

“I’ve also had some good memories with club teams when I’ve played here but, having said that, not too many victories because of the teams I managed here have lost more often than they won.”

Looking forward, Hodgson’s immediate concern is guiding England to glory at Euro 2016 but, past that, he is looking forward to paying a visit to the Hammers at their new home next season.

While he will always have fond memories of the Boleyn, the 68-year-old said West Ham have much to look forward to at their 54,000-capacity stadium in Stratford.

“Traditions are important and this club always has traditions, but I understand the owners and the Chief Executive because these days you can get more than 30-odd thousand people,” Hodgson continued. “You can fill a stadium with 60,000, so if you have the opportunity you have to take it.

“You can’t live in the past and say ‘I want to stay in my traditional home’ – you have to move on, just as Arsenal did in leaving their traditional home.”