Roy Hodgson and humble pie
Roy Hodgson is the FA’s choice for England manager. There have been howls of derision and disbelief. Hodgson was not, as it turns out, most people’s obvious choice. Not that of the England players, and not that of the media. I, like many others, thought that Harry Redknapp was the natural option. But then, upon hearing that the FA had chosen him, I sauntered down to the metaphorical baker’s and bought myself a humble pie.
As I munched away, I felt much better. You see, England just aren’t world-class at the moment. Don’t get me wrong – the England team has some fantastic players. But Spain has a whole squad of them. So does Holland. So does Germany. In fact, even if England did defeat any of these teams at the Euro 2012 tournament – which is of course a possibility – it would be regarded as a giant-killing.
Much has been made of what the players want. Much has been made of what the media wants. But Fabio Capello was what the players wanted. Fabio Capello was what the media wanted. And Fabio Capello, previously a man of senatorial dignity, was reduced to a figure of fun for much of his last days in charge, almost as ridiculed as Steve McClaren before him.
I think that Roy Hodgson’s appointment infuriates so many of us because it shows us what we really are: we are outsiders, peering up at football’s elite. We do not swagger into the later stages of major international tournaments. We stumble. Before the tournament’s ties are even drawn, we peek desperately through our fingers in the hope of an easy group.
Because, deep down, I think we know. I think we know that we need someone like Hodgson – someone who has international experience, and who can mould teams of wildly disparate talent into a solid, effective whole. Many in England cried out for Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho – but England are not Barcelona or Real Madrid. What England need right now, in the absence of an established lineup or tactical system, is someone with the pragmatism of Otto Rehhagel.
There are those who will attack Hodgson for his ill-fated time at Liverpool. Allow me to put the rest of his career as a case for his defence, most particularly his time at Internazionale. And, as Kenny Dalglish has found in recent months, Anfield has been and always will be one of the most difficult places to manage. There are also those who will persist that Redknapp was the only choice. Those voices may be far quieter following the second half of Tottenham’s season. Of course, Redknapp is a very, very good manager, but the 5-2 defeat against Arsenal in the Premier League and the 5-1 defeat against Chelsea in the FA Cup may have been fatal causes for concern. After all, Euro 2012 – just like World Cup 2010 before it – will be filled with teams of speedy, nerveless vultures ready to pick apart ailing defences on the counter-attack. (Yes, Germany, I am looking at you.)
So it looks like it’ll be Hodgson then. And he may smuggle us further than we thought we’d ever go, or make us dully subside at the group stage. But either way, please let’s work on those expectations of ours; because, the last time that England won a major tournament, footballs were still brown.Tagged in: england, euro 2012, FA, Fabio Capello, Harry Redknapp, José Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Roy Hodgson, Steve McClaren
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