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Sunderland's Swede pays tribute to England boss
WEARSIDE-BASED winger Seb Larsson thinks Roy Hodgson will have a familiar feeling when England come up against Sweden in Friday night's crucial Euro 2012 group game in Kiev.
It was in Sweden that Hodgson took his first managerial steps when he took over at Halmstad following a recommendation from former Malmo coach Bob Houghton.
After that, and during subsequent stints with Oddevold and Orebro, he went on to the celebrate five Swedish league titles and two cup successes, which paved the way for a long and successful career.
During that period of his life the coach that has led Sweden in to Euro 2012, Erik Hamren, was just beginning his playing career in professional football and watched many Scandinavian coaches adopt similar styles to those which had served Hodgson so well.
And when England come up against Sweden this Friday, in a game the yellow shirts cant afford to lose after slipping up against co-hosts Ukraine, Larsson believes there could be a hint of a Hodgson team in the way the Swedes will play.
"I can't for sure say that Erik Hamren has modelled himself on Roy Hodgson but it could well be," said Larsson, knowing England have never beaten Sweden in competitive football, drawing five and losing two of seven previous matches.
"He was such an influence early on that you never know. Roy Hodgson set the standard for football in Sweden. History-wise, English coaches have had a big influence and you don't have to look any further than him. He was in Sweden for a long time and he set the standard and style that a lot of coaches have tried to copy since."
After his appointment at Halmstads in January 1976 he spent the majority of the next 14 years in Sweden before moving on to Neuchatel Xamax. After that Hodgson had 13 other jobs - including Switzerland, Inter Milan and Finland - before finishing off at West Bromwich Albion ahead of the England job.
Hodgson had long left Sweden when Larsson, 26, was born, but the Sunderland winger believes the impact of the Englishman in his homeland should not be underestimated, so thinks the Football Association have given the right man the job.
Larsson, speaking to Sunderland's Legion of Light magazine, said: "He has a very good reputation. He did very well in Sweden and he's done well since.
"In England, if you have one bad job that's how you're likely to be remembered but we remember he's done a bit more than what he's achieved in English football.
"A lot of people know Roy Hodgson very, very well from before and whether that's a good or a bad thing for us, we'll have to wait and see."
And Larsson, substituted in the second half of Sweden's defeat to Ukraine on Monday night, thinks Hodgson has already proven England will be difficult to beat under his watch.
He said: "People probably underestimate Roy Hodgson's international experience too. It's very, very different to club football and especially when you're at a tournament like this one. That can only be a benefit for England.
"They're going to be a hard-working, tough, physical team anyway but they've got a lot of individual quality too. They're top players, it will be more about Roy Hodgson getting the right mixture and getting them working together and if he does, they can go far, there's no doubt."
Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon is in no rush to make a decision on his future.
Gordon will officially become a free agent at the end of this month after being told by Sunderland he will not be having his contract renewed.
A wide range of clubs have been credited with an interest in the Scotland international, including Arsenal, Celtic, Southampton and Hull City.
Gordon said: "Things will work themselves out over the next few weeks. Ive had a few bits and pieces of contact from different clubs, but Ill take my time and see what the bets offer is over the summer."