By Sebastian Faulks (England, 1993)
There’s blood, guts and glory aplenty in this tragic romance set during the First World War. How Roy Hodgson would love an England captain like the novel’s hero Stephen Wraysford — talented, courageous, willing to sacrifice and a perfect leader of men. The Steven Gerrard of the trenches?
By Milan Kundera (Czech/France, 1979)
How do humans cope with traumatic experiences? In Milan Kundera’s fine dissident novel, he examines how the Czech people coped with Communist domination by both laughing and forgetting. Hodgson must wish he could do the same about his ill-fated time with Liverpool.
By John Updike (US, 1960)
The opening of this epic series of novels about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, sees the protagonist testing his basketball skills in small-town Pennsylvania. Rabbit was a high school star but now lives in suburban ennui with his wife Janice. Rabbit, Run is a novel about faded sporting dreams and how to cope with being good, but never quite making it.
By Philip Roth (US, 1997)
Similar to Rabbit but more noble is Roth’s Seymour Levov, a star athlete who creates the perfect American life in New Jersey. His life is torn apart when his daughter joins a far-Left group and plants a bomb in the local post office. A tragic story about traditional authority being undermined by the spoiled younger generation. One to turn to after the England players’ inevitable all-night drinking session or kebab orgy.
The Adventures of Augie March
By Saul Bellow (US, 1953)
Augie March is an Everyman in Chicago who survives by his wits — his own “luck and pluck” — to make it in the world. Living among lowlifes and gangsters, he is intellectually ambitious, famously quoting philosophers and writers. Whether England progress in the Euros or not, Hodgson could always quote Augie’s famous line from Heraclitus: “A man’s character is his fate”.
Beware of Pity
By Stefan Zwieg (Austria, 1939)
The Austrian novelist famously ended it all in a double suicide pact with his wife in February 1942. Once a bestseller he had fallen out of favour and had to cope with the invasion of the Nazis. Beware of Pity ends with a jilted wheelchair-bound baroness throwing herself off the roof. Not cheery perhaps, but when the tabloids are cruelly mocking your lisp perhaps a novel to give Hodgson some perspective.