An in-depth interview with Mark Hudson Part Two: Coaching against Pep and jousting with the game’s most lethal strikers

  • My week in charge of Huddersfield and what it’s like to face Guardiola
  • Why I chose to tackle Manchester City with no fear in my mind
  • The thrill as an Everton fan when I looked across one day and saw Big Dunc coming on - and knew I had to mark him
  • Tackling Drogba - and facing a mountain of hate mail as a consequence
  • Paddy Power said Aguero was in my pocket but he didn’t stay there for long!

COME IN AFTER FOR A BOVRIL...Mark with Pep before the clash with Manchester Cityguardian.com

MARK HUDSON had to shrug off the pain of seeing his coaching mentor David Wagner lose his job - and face up to taking over the reins at Huddersfield Town.

As a player he had battled against the likes of Didier Drogba, Duncan Ferguson and Sergio Aguero in his top flight days at Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and the Terriers.

As a young coach making his way in the game his one match in charge in the English Premiership to date was one he will never forget.

Here, in the final instalment of a fascinating two-part Sport Careers Agency exclusive interview, Mark takes us inside his week in charge and what it's like to face Pep.

MARK HUDSON glanced across the technical area and saw the coach who transformed the face of football as he led Barcelona to 14 trophies in four unforgettable years.

Then he had to refocus and concentrate on the mission of somehow stopping Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Sport Careers Agency client Hudson's one game in charge of Huddersfield Town as caretaker manager in January 2019 came at the end of a rollercoaster week.

On the Monday he stood in the Terriers' dressing-room as his axed coaching mentor David Wagner bade an emotional farewell to the squad he had led into the English Premiership.

By the Sunday Hudson had to rally his team to face Pep's all-conquering, soon to be English champions live on Sky Sports.

A daunting challenge. Yet it is a week he will never forget and he wouldn't have had it any other way.

Mark reflected: "I was excited by the challenge, I never looked at the game and wished it was against someone else.

"This was managing in the English Premier League as a caretaker, I knew I wasn't getting the next game even if I won so why not face the best? They were and are the best.

"On the Monday David came in to say goodbye to the dressing-room. He knew and I knew that I was taking over as caretaker.

"It was a very emotional Monday and the dressing-room was split between those who didn't want to see him go and some who thought they had a chance now."

These days Mark is emerging from 18 months of learning on his UEFA Pro Licence with the Welsh FA.

His final task on that endeavour is to shadow a leader and reflect on the different ways a coach can inspire a group to buy into their vision.

He had a crash course back then at Huddersfield and he revealed: "I had already thought about what I was going to say.

"I knew I had to pick up a dressing-room to face Man City live on Sky on the Sunday.

"I tried to present that week to the players as a chance to showcase what we could do both individually and collectively.

"The decision on David had been made and we still had our jobs to do for Huddersfield and the fans.

"I worked with Dean Whitehead and by the end of the week there were smiling faces and we were ready to go."

Huddersfield were in the game at half-time, 0-1 down to Danilo's deflected strike but two quickfire goals from Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane put them to the sword.

Mark's plans of hitting City in transitional moments worked to an extent but they couldn't find the clinical finishing that their visitors always carry in their armoury.

There was honour in the defeat, though, and Hudson smiled: "At the handshake at the start I told Pep he was welcome to come in for a watered-down Bovril at the end!

"He told me to never hesitate to contact him and that was great of him.

"I changed the team to try and counter-attack them, we lost 3-0 but I was as proud as I could have been of how we had worked in the week.

"There is an out of body moment when you think: "I'm coaching against Pep Guardiola."

"I loved it all, though, it was an amazing experience."

Wagner, now in charge of Swiss Champions League shock troops Young Boys, was a huge influence on the transformation of Mark from veteran player to rookie coach.

Now at the age of 39 Hudson's eyes are very much on the next challenge and a new chapter.

Yet we couldn't allow the chance to pass us by.

We had to look back on a playing career in English football that spanned 18 years, six clubs and 436 games as a dominant centre-half, a captain and a leader of teams.

ON THE SLIDE...Mark wins a challenge against Sergio Aguerofotmob.com

Mark played against and tried to thwart some of the best in the business and he said: "The strikers I played against were all different but I was an Everton fan as a kid and when I was at Crystal Palace I played against Duncan Ferguson who was iconic at Goodison.

"That was special for me. He came on as a sub against us and I was like a fan watching him, I just wanted to win the first header!

"That season I also played against Nicolas Anelka at Manchester City and then Didier Drogba at Chelsea.

"I injured Drogba in a tackle, got booked and he was out for two months and I got a mountain of hate mail!

"The physical ones I liked playing against, I HATED playing against the ones who had clever movement.

"There was a boy called Scott Hogan at Brentford who would stand in an offside position to start with off your shoulder then jump on and you never knew where he was. He was a PEST.

"You could never truly mark him and I hated playing against him. His timing of runs was superb and I never knew where he was."

Mark's dedication to the task, his desire to drag every shred he can give out of himself has stayed with him from his playing days as he plots the next steps as a coach.

He is grateful for every experience he had against the best and he grinned: "I played against Sergio Aguero, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

"They were players I idolised and it was a little surreal at times.

"We played against City in the Cup when I was coming towards the end of my career and drew 0-0.

"Paddy Power did a thing which said: "What's in Mark Hudson's pocket? Wallet, keys and Aguero!" That still makes me laugh.

"We then went to the Etihad later and they won 5-1 so he didn't stay in my pocket for very long!"

MARK HUDSON ON THE SERVICE HE RECEIVED FROM SPORT CAREERS AGENCY

"I got introduced to the Managing Director Piero Carrino through David Marshall at Cardiff City a long time ago and then again when I was finishing up my UEFA A licence.

"So at that time you begin to think of your CV. At my A Licence he did a superb presentation and that set me thinking.

"My CV looks brilliant and the fact that Sport Careers Agency are so well regarded by THE Welsh FA meant a lot to me because I rate how I have been treated in my licences there very highly.

"If the Welsh FA backed them, that was enough for me. My CV has set me up for my journey for sure."

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