In a recent interview with Premier League Productions, Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic reflected on Roy Hodgson’s longevity as a manager, whether he could make the coveted switch himself, and why he thinks this is a strong personal season.
The experienced midfielder has been at Palace for over four years seasons now and boasts 28 goals and six assists – finishing top scorer across 2017/18 and 2018/19.
The skipper has clearly carried the club’s mantle throughout his time in south London, however when asked if he would take the leadership one step further to a managerial position, says this leap of faith is tough to compare:
“When you are a player I think it is just one part of football and the manager is a totally different part, so I can’t compare. Yes, I have some kind of responsibility, but I don’t have even close enough responsibility as a manager of one team.
“If you see Roy [Hodgson], football changes a lot. He is the manager I believe [for] over 40 years. To stay on top level as a manager for that long I think is never easy because you have to change your philosophy, you have to change your mentality… you need to change tactics.
“The manager [role], I believe, is as well about mental strength, how to keep one group strong enough to hold the season. So he is very experienced and I think we, as players, can learn a lot from him.
“You have to adapt… that’s why he is still here.”
Taking the reins in September 2017, only seven months after Milivojevic signed from Olympiacos, Hodgson has led the Serbian through almost all of his time in south London:
“For us, for me personally, I’m very proud to play under him. He’s a very good person, good manager - we know him very well. I’m very pleased honestly to have him here, he always tries to take the best from us and I’m very delighted that we have him.”
Milivojevic also describes how maintaining such high standards can, at times, be difficult, but says he is happy with his work so far this season:
“I knew it [20/21] will be tough for me because when you set up some kind of standard in the last three-four seasons it’s not easy to hold and to be at that standard every single season.
“Most people will see the goals and assists I had, especially goals I had in last few seasons, and if you compare to this season… you will say it’s not a good season. But me, personally, I think I had a good season.
“I am happy that I am on the pitch, I am healthy. I try do best for my teammates. So, at the moment, I’m happy [with] how I performed and I hope I will do even better in the last [nine] games, which I think is the most important part of the season.”
After a tightly packed scheduled and having had several players recover from injury, perhaps it’s no surprise that the captain marks these last nine games as a crucial time for the squad:
“I think what is important is some players, some important players who’ve been injured, they are coming back,” he said.
“I can say at the moment we have a strong enough squad to make that momentum and to make positive[s] from upcoming games.”
Finishing up, Milivojevic remains on the fence about his prospects of following his manager’s footsteps, but makes clear his respect for Roy Hodgson:
“I don’t know about myself and about my future, if I am going to be a manager one day or not. But, I think from our squad, if anyone wants in the future to be a manager he can learn a lot from Roy.”