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10 things you need to know about Roy Hodgson

He's an "old-school socialist" and a Philip Roth fan.

It's official: Roy Hodgson has been named the new England manager. The 64-year-old has managed 16 different teams in eight countries, and coached a number of sides including Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, FC Copenhagen, Grasshoppers and Halmstads BK. 

But Hodgson also leads an exciting life outside football...

1. He's a big literature fan

Hodgson spilled his passion for reading to the Daily Mail last year, saying: “I’ve got quite a voracious appetite. I enjoy the classics or good story-tellers. I’ve read nearly all of those who have won the Nobel Prize. I like Philip Roth, John Updike and Richard Yates. I had a period where I read a lot of Czech literature, the likes of Milan Kundera and Ivan Klima. I like German writers, too, such as Hermann Hesse."

England's new manager was spotted at the 2009 launch of Sebastian Faulks' A Week in December - deep in conversation with the author himself.

2. He's an "old-school socialist"...

...according to an acquaintance.

3. He enjoys high-brow entertainment

During his two years at Fulham, Hodgson enjoyed attending the opera, in particular Puccini's Turandot and Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. He has also confessed that one of his favourite films is Gerard Depardieu's Quand j'etais chanteur, and is a fan of the slick 1960s drama Mad Men, which he described as "outstanding".

4. He speaks six languages

Whoever said the English were ignorant abroad? Hodgson speaks fluent Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, German and Italian - as well as some French, Finnish, Danish and Korean.

5. He's down with the kids

In the 1970s, Hodgson was a PE teacher at Alleyn's School in South London. He also worked in a school in Pretoria, South Africa.

6. He plays the harmonica

...according to the Daily Star

7. He collects watches

In a recent interview, Hodgson told the Mail that if his house were burning down, his expensive watches would be the first items to be rescued.

8. He compared himself to Russian artist Kandinsky

Hodgson said of his career: "I've gone sideways, backwards and upwards again."

9. In a film of his life, he would like to be played by Hugh Grant

He may be in luck. Grant is a Fulham supporter and in 2010 claimed: "I want to sleep with Roy Hodgson."

10. He's not Harry Redknapp


Update: The New Statesman has also learnt that Roy Hodgson was in the same year as Jamie Reid, who did the Sex Pistols art work, at the John Ruskin grammar school. Folk singer Ralph McTell also attended the school. 

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.