I've been thinking a lot about Hoddle, asking many questions. As I'm sure he has. Could anyone have cared more about Spurs than I did, or worked harder? Which bastards knifed me in the back? Rebrov, I don't remember anyone called Rebrov? The very fact of asking himself such questions will show he is a long way from recovery. My question is about the nature of managership. Is the player father of the man?
I so admired Hoddle on the pitch, without knowing anything about his personality. On the field he appeared so confident, convinced of his skills, but he could also be lazy, uncommitted, fade away if he wasn't in the mood, or the occasion not worthy of him. He was such a natural, it had all come so easily, that I doubted if in real life he had much mental toughness or determination. I could not have been more wrong. Mental strength he clearly has, probably to excess. But his confidence on the field, which we consider essential and praiseworthy in a player, turned into cold arrogance as a manager, unable to allow other opinions.
In the 1980s, I could never have imagined him as a manager, so it has been astonishing that he has made a success of it. Managing three Premiership clubs, plus England, has to count as success. But has he been a great one? Most fans would say no.
He was unusual in being a star player who went on to do well in management. Looking at current Premiership managers - Fergie, Wenger, Houllier, Ranieri, David Moyes, Alan Curbishley, Dave Jones, Steve McClaren, Sam Allardyce, Micky Adams, Chris Coleman - none of those were household names as players. Well, not in my house. Steve Bruce was well known, at Man Utd, but not for England. Bobby Robson got 20 caps, but was never a star. Nor was Peter Reid, though he was well known. David O'Leary got lots of caps, but he was Irish. Graeme Souness and Gordon Strachan played for Scotland. The only ex-England star, on the Hoddle scale, now in Premiership management is Kevin Keegan. And his career has not exactly been brilliant.
Looking around the present Premiership stars, who will make it? You'd have to pick Roy Keane. He doesn't care about being popular, which is vital for every manager. Gary Neville appears solid and sensible. I can see Alan Shearer as a manager, and Teddy Sheringham, but will they want to slum it in the lower depths, or put up with the shit when it all goes wrong? With three or four million stashed away, they need never work again. That's another factor, which didn't figure in the past. Why be coach for Carlisle United when you can play golf all day.
The media also provide so much work, and lots of money, as Gary Lineker has discovered. And very much easier, with less chance of a heart attack. You needn't work at all, if you retire as an icon, and still earn money. George Best has made an excellent living for over 30 years, more than he did as a player, just by being George Best. Hard to imagine Beckham as a manager. He does so like to be liked, a terrible failing in that role. He also appears to lack any strong views, about football or anything else, judging by his latest autobiog. But you just can't tell. He could be our first soppy, sentimental, touchy-feely manager.
Almost all our Premiership managers in 20 years' time will be players we scarcely reckon or notice today. But a couple of present-day stars might come through, as Hoddle and Keegan did. My dear friend Gazza tells me he wants to be a manager, when he eventually retires. This is the player who sat at the back in England team meetings and burped, farted and made stupid noises while tactics were being explained. When players like Chris Waddle or John Barnes were discussing formations, Gazza would put his hands over his ears and shout: "Not listening, not listening."
I remember interviewing Terry Venables as a player and he mucked around, doing silly things with his eyebrows. Players do mature. Someone unexpected is bound to come through. They always do, in every field, from football to politics.
So, Gazza to get Hoddle's job at Spurs? That's pushing it. But one day, who knows . . .