Slaven Bilic doesn’t see himself managing into his 70s like Roy Hodgson

Slaven Bilic has admitted he cannot see himself following in Roy Hodgson’s footsteps as the pair prepare to head into battle once again.

Hodgson, 73, will return to former club West Brom with his Crystal Palace side on Sunday to renew an acquaintance with current Baggies boss Bilic which stretches back to their time as international managers.

At 52, the Croatian is something of a spring chicken compared to the man who left West Brom to take up the England job during the summer of 2012 having earlier worked in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Finland before returning home.

Bilic said: “I met him a few times when I was manager of Croatia and he was manager of Finland, I think.

“We came across each other at a few of those seminars and I remember having a long chat with him once, and he was great, a really knowledgeable coach, unbelievable and so maverick, so many places and different leagues – Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Inter Milan, England for ages. A brilliant career.

“To have that energy and focus is unbelievable. I admire those people. I love football, I can easily say football is my life. But do I see myself on the bench in 20 years without having a break? I don’t, to be fair, I don’t, and I love football.

“Without football, I am nothing, so well done Roy. It’s unbelievable.”

Bilic will send his team out against the Eagles buoyed by last weekend’s first Premier League win of the season over Sheffield United, but having seen them score only twice in their last seven games.

That lack of goals had placed added pressure on a defence which had to resist a concerted Blades fightback and the manager is hoping greater potency at one end can help matters at the other.

Bilic said: “If it’s 1-0, then you are a little bit too worried, you are a little bit too cautious, you are a little bit too panicky – ‘let’s drop, let’s drop, let’s drop. That is no good.

“Goals are basically the best protection of your goal. The more goals you score, that gives you more confidence, that gives you the belief to continue like you have played because that way brought you one or two goals, so let’s continue like that.”