Watford manager Roy Hodgson will face Chelsea in what is set to be his final game as a Premier League manager but he could not resist one last pot shot in his last press conference
Just when he was within touching distance of the pipe and slippers, Roy Hodgson was dragged into the Wagatha Christie battle of footballers’ wives.
Instead of counting down the hours to retirement, the former England coach was revealed, in former Three Lions captain Wayne Rooney’s testimony from the witness box, to be uneasy about Jamie Vardy’s wife and her alleged pursuit of fame. That squalid soap opera and its narrative of spurious tosh has at least brought strangely addictive drama to the end of the season.
Sadly for Hodgson, he will bow out of management after presiding over Watford’s relegation from the Premier League without a whimper. The Hornets’ decision to replace 70-year-old Claudio Ranieri with a man four years older has yielded just nine points from a possible 51.
But when the final whistle blows at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and Hodgson reverts to watching football on TV, he admits the ludicrous handball law – and blinkered enforcement of it – will make him throw his Hobnobs at the telly in frustration. The Watford manager was unhappy his only top-flight relegation was confirmed by a VAR handball verdict against his player Hassane Kamara three weeks ago. And the Premier League remains bedeviled by handball controversy, with Burnley especially vocal about his treatment at Tottenham last weekend.
Asked by Mirror Sport what he wouldn’t miss about being a manager, Hodgson replied: “What makes me want to throw things at the screen is the decisions that referees are being required to make. VAR is a double-edged sword because there are moments when you are grateful that it exists and it would have been a real miscarriage of justice if certain things had been allowed to stand.
“On the other hand, there are things so marginal that you hanker for the old days where it was left to the referee and linesmen to make their minds up. But the thing that is so totally and utterly wrong is the handball law as it stands – and I really cannot believe there are people within the game who don’t want to react to it.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Is Roy right about the handball law? Let us know in the comments section
“How you can go from something that was so simple – where a player is penalised for deliberate handball – to saying his hand was in an unnatural position, or he was ‘making himself bigger’ even though he is facing the wrong way and his eye is not even on the ball is beyond belief. What we’ve done is to encourage players and fans to scream ‘handball’ every time the ball is played into the box and people are trying to block it. It’s not so long ago, at Fulham, that we were coaching players to make themselves big and get their bodies in the way to block crosses at any price.
“Now we see defenders running with hands behind their backs, for heaven’s sake. If I could ever get angry enough to do something about it, which I don’t think I could, that’s one thing I would change about the modern game. I feel very sorry for players coming off the field, having lost the game to decisions based on that law, and I feel sorry for the referees. I’m pretty certain a large proportion of them would agree with me, and not with what they are being asked to do.”