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Damien Delaney on the manager...
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Damien Delaney on the manager that most impressed him most during his playing days

Ruairi Carberry
Ruairi Carberry

17:16 10 Apr 2021

Damien Delaney had a 20-year career at the highest level of football, playing under a multitude of excellent managers, but there was one in particular that stood out from the rest.

Roy Hodgson may have had a difficult spellsat Liverpool, however, Delaney admired his ability to remain calm and deliver succinct messages to his players under extreme pressure.

"Without doubt, for me, the best manager I had at dealing with that type of pressure was Roy Hodgson," Delaney said.

"I did not play much in my last year, I was able to observe and speak to Hodgson and learn a few things.

"Hodgson had this amazing ability, that no matter what happens, on the training ground or in a game, to stand there with a look on his face that said 'I knew that was going to happen and I have just the answer for it' even though inside he was doing somersaults, panicking or losing the run of himself.

"He always managed to stand there and say the right thing at the right time.

"Roy always understood what the changing room needed to hear, when it needed an earful or a berating or when it needed to be told you are doing okay, even when the players did not believe it and it was going horrifically badly.

"He was brilliant at that. That is a skill that is acquired over a 40 or 50-year career as he has had."

Damien Delaney worked with Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace. File photo dated 01-02-2020 of Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson prior to kick-off during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London.

A managers job is arguably the toughest and most unforgiving in football and Delaney believes the best ones out there are those who are able to make decisive decisions without compromising their belief systems.

He highlighted Mikel Arteta's recent decision to bench Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang against North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur for being late as an example of a manager sticking to their convictions.

"When a manager is under pressure it distorts their view of what is actually happening and the really, really good managers can come under extreme pressure but reset and re-centre themselves and see the wood from the trees," Delaney said.

"It is very easy for a manager to make a decision, as Arteta did with Aubameyang being late, and all of a sudden you're thinking 'my god if we lose this Tottenham game, I might lose my job.'"

"So then you compromise your beliefs and your principles. I admire Arteta so much for sticking by it."

Mikel Arteta showed conviction with Aubameyang said Delaney. File photo dated 15-07-2020 of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (right) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Issue date: Wednesday March 17, 2021.

Ultimately, making those tough decisions are what separate the great managers from the rest in an extremely unforgiving environment.

In order for coaches to taste the success they so crave, they have to exhibit "a certain mentality, will and a desire," in a "lonely world," according to Delaney.

That is why the former Ireland international empathises with the plight of managers in today's game.

"I do understand what manager's go through, to an extent," Delaney said.

"I will never fully understand it, until you are actually the one on the touchline and the fans are chanting 'you are getting sacked in the morning,'"

"That is a difficult place to be."

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Read more about

Arsenal Aubameyang Crystal Palace Damien Delaney Managers Mikel Arteta Premier League Roy Hodgson

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