HO­GAN!AND!MEISL

SI­MON SHEL­DON EX­AM­INES HOW AN ENGLISH COACH AND AN AUS­TRIAN MAN­AGER TRANS­FORMED THE CON­TI­NEN­TAL GAME...

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Foot­ball vi­sion­ar­ies

WHEN­EVER there are polls to choose the best British coach in his­tory, the names of Ram­sey, Busby, Pais­ley, Stein, Clough and Fer­gu­son are the ones that come up.

But if the same ques­tion is asked in Eu­rope, then the name Jimmy Ho­gan crops up time and again. Ho­gan be­came one of the most im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial foot­ball coaches in Eu­rope.

He was born in 1882 to Ir­ish work­ing-class par­ents in the vil­lage of Nel­son, Lan­cashire.

He grew up ob­sessed with the game and was a skilled in­side-for­ward who played for Burnley, Bolton Wan­der­ers, Rochdale and Swin­don Town but it was at Ful­ham (1905-08), with whom he reached an FA Cup semi-fi­nal, where he was in­spired by coach Jock Hamil­ton and his foot­ball phi­los­o­phy.

“The Scot­tish pass­ing game em­pha­sises skill over phys­i­cal power and the ver­sa­til­ity of all play­ers be­ing com­fort­able on the ball, able to in­ter­change po­si­tion and pass the ball to a col­league in an in­tel­li­gent and con­struc­tive man­ner,” he said.

This was the style of foot­ball he taught once his play­ing days were over.

By the time Ho­gan was ready to get into coach­ing, he was lured abroad, among other British coaches, to Eu­ro­pean clubs who were full of tal­ented in­di­vid­ual play­ers, but were dis­or­gan­ised, tac­ti­cally naïve and not as fit as play­ers here at home.

So, in 1910 at the young age of 28, he ar­rived in the Nether­lands at Dor­drecht FC and came across a group of play­ers that were hun­gry to learn new ideas of train­ing un­bur­dened by years of stick­ing to tra­di­tional meth­ods.

Over the next two years, Ho­gan made a huge im­pres­sion on his Dutch play­ers and Dutch foot­ball in gen­eral.

How­ever, his work was also no­ticed in Aus­tria by Hugo Meisl, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Aus­trian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

Meisl was very dif­fer­ent to Ho­gan, although he was only a year older. He was the son of a rich Jewish mer­chant and en­joyed a com­fort­able up­bring­ing in Bo­hemia and Vi­enna.

He grew up in love with foot­ball but wasn’t good enough to try to be­come a pro­fes­sional player. He was highly ed­u­cated and be­gan a ca­reer in bank­ing, but gave it up to be­come a re­spected ref­eree, jour­nal­ist, ad­min­is­tra­tor and, even­tu­ally, a man­ager.

In 1912, Meisl in­vited Ho­gan to Vi­enna to help coach the na­tional team. The pair hit it off im­me­di­ately with Ho­gan’s knowl­edge and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the dif­fer­ing styles and tech­niques in Eu­rope im­press­ing Meisl.

The English­man spent six weeks help­ing the squad pre­pare for the Olympics in Stock­holm. De­ter­mined to build a tidy pass­ing side, he worked them very hard, stress­ing con­stant prac­tice to ob­tain power over the ball. Quick passes and look­ing for space soon be­came

known as the ‘Vi­en­nese school of foot­ball’. Ho­gan was also one of the first coaches to un­der­stand the value of con­trolled di­ets – cut­ting down on the amount of meat the play­ers ate and in­creas­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles.

At the Olympics, the young Aus­trian team did well, beat­ing Ger­many 5-1, be­fore los­ing to the Nether­lands in the quar­ter- fi­nals (the gold medal was won by Great Bri­tain).

The world was torn apart with the out­break of war in 1914. Meisl went to war, while Ho­gan was in­terned as a civil­ian pris­oner of war be­fore be­ing sent to Hun­gary to coach un­der su­per­vi­sion.

Here, he con­tin­ued with his prin­ci­ples of how he thought the game should be played and nur­tured young boys who would af­ter the war go on and be­come top class play­ers and part of the ‘Magic Mag­yars’ of the 1950s.

Af­ter the war, Ho­gan en­joyed spells with clubs in Switzer­land and Hun­gary. In fact, he coached the fu­ture Ger­man World Cup win­ning man­ager Hel­mut Schon who said that in ev­ery coach­ing ses­sion he had ever taken for the rest of his ca­reer, he’d re­mem­ber ad­vice from Ho­gan.

New na­tions Cze­choslo­vakia, Hun­gary, Aus­tria and Yu­goslavia had been cre­ated from the old Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian Em­pire and Meisl de­cided that foot­ball was the most peace­ful way to chan­nel the re­gion’s sim­mer­ing na­tion­al­ism and pro­posed an an­nual tour­na­ment for the best clubs.

In 1927, the Mitropa Cup was born, con­tested by teams from the four new coun­tries plus Italy and Switzer­land. The tour­na­ment drew huge crowds and helped bring pro­fes­sion­al­ism to the game in cen­tral Eu­rope.

The Mitropa Cup and its suc­ces­sor, the Latin Cup, would pave the way for the Eu­ro­pean Cup that started in 195556.

By 1931, Meisl was the Aus­trian man­ager and, with the na­tional side on his mind, he sent for Ho­gan. The pair set about cre­at­ing the finest side in Aus­trian his­tory, which would come to be known as the Wun­derteam.

In­spired by the fluid skills of Matthias Sin­de­lar (the Mozart of Foot­ball), they de­feated their Eu­ro­pean ri­vals in 14 con­sec­u­tive matches, in­clud­ing beat­ing Scot­land 5-0, Ger­many 6-0 and 5-0, Switzer­land 8-1 and Hun­gary 8-2.

In De­cem­ber 1932, Aus­tria lost 4-3 to Eng­land de­spite out­play­ing them for much of the match.

The Wun­derteam went from strength to strength, reach­ing the 1934 World Cup semi-fi­nals and the 1936 Olympic fi­nal, un­for­tu­nately los­ing both to a leg­endary Ital­ian team.

Over­all, Meisl and Ho­gan lost just three out of 31 matches, scor­ing 101 goals. Their style of play was the clos­est Ho­gan came to re­alise his dream of a side that passed, moved and swapped po­si­tions seam­lessly. To­tal Foot­ball.

In 1937 and ’38, two events shat­tered what surely would have been a glit­ter­ing fu­ture for Aus­trian foot­ball. First, Hugo Meisl died aged just 55 and then the Ger­man An­schluss

de­stroyed what they had cre­ated. The na­tion’s foot­ball rep­u­ta­tion has yet to re­cover.

As the Sec­ond World War loomed, Ho­gan had al­ready headed home, where he man­aged Ful­ham. The play­ers dis­liked his un­con­ven­tional train­ing meth­ods - us­ing the ball! - and so he was sacked af­ter only 31 games.

It was then on to Aston Villa where he had a lit­tle more suc­cess, lead­ing them to pro­mo­tion and an FA Cup semi-fi­nal.

Af­ter the war, he coached the Villa youth team and in 1953 he took a group of ap­pren­tices to Wem­b­ley to watch his Hun­gar­ian friends play Eng­land.

That day Hun­gary gave Eng­land their great­est foot­ball hu­mil­i­a­tion, 6-3. The Magic Mag­yars ded­i­cated their win to Jimmy Ho­gan.

Ho­gan spent his last years in Burnley and even in his 60s he could still en­thrall crowds with his foot­balling skills.

When he died in 1974 aged 91, trib­utes came in from all over Eu­rope with the Ger­man FA hail­ing him as one of the founders of the mod­ern game.

Ho­gan al­ways warned that English foot­ball would be over­taken by the ‘con­ti­nen­tals’ as they em­braced his be­liefs of the short pass, ex­ploita­tion of space and good tech­nique, and his ha­tred of the mind­less long ball.

Ho­gan him­self said in the 1930s: “I have watched con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball grow from a mere baby to a strong lad and de­velop into a strap­ping young man who will go on to full grown man­hood and even­tu­ally deprive Bri­tain of her foot­ball supremacy.”

Ho­gan had proved a world-class par­ent, ably as­sisted by his old friend Hugo Meisl.

Smart work: Aston Villa man­ager Jimmy Ho­gan

Trail­blaz­ers: Jimmy Ho­gan with the Aus­trian Wun­derteam

Leader: Hugo Meisl

Last­ing im­pres­sion: West Ger­many coach Hel­mut Schon

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