Shouldn't West Brom's Roy Hodgson be in the frame for the England top-job?
As soon as Fabio Capello announced his resignation as England manager, the press were clamouring for Harry Redknapp to be appointed his successor. In fact, even before then, when it was thought that Capello would be leaving after the Euros. In fact, it seems as if despite Fabio Capello having an incredible win percentage of 66% (his highest of any job if you take into account the match fixing scandal surrounding his time at Juventus) the press never took to the Italian, the nadir coming after Shaun Custis of The Sun labelled him “gormless” and a “silly ass” when he didn’t pick Jack Wilshere for the first European qualifiers after an admittedly disappointing World Cup in South Africa.
Harry Redknapp, however, is the darling of the post-match interview. His wide-boy, wheeler-dealer, no nonsense persona harks back to a simpler time in football, a time before the Opta index, before holding midfielders and trequartistas, a time that has been idealised to look like twenty two tight-shorted, citrus-mouthed men on a muddy sloping pitch in the pouring rain kicking lumps out of each other. Because of this, he seems to get away with things other managers would be lambasted for, like publicly trying to unsettle whatever young player is the most in form at that particular time by casually saying that he tried to sign him, or is thinking about signing him. If Andre Villas-Boas came out in a press conference early in the season talking about the buyout clause in Demba Ba’s contract he’d have been accused of disrespect. Harry does it, it’s fine.
Hodgson knows football, and he has a track record of taking teams without too many star players and making the whole greater than the sum of its parts
However, are the red tops really backing the right horse when it comes to Harry for England? Ok, their recent poor run aside, it’s widely regarded that Spurs have been playing some of the most attractive football in the Premier League this season. In Luka Modric and Gareth Bale they have two players who could feasibly force their way into any team in the world, and they are where they are in the league on merit, even if that 10 point gap between them and Arsenal has been cut down to 1, with Arsenal carrying all the momentum. However, club management is a different beast to international management, as I’m sure Capello would agree, and even Harry himself seemed to be expressing certain reservations about the job in a recent interview with L’Equipe. By the same score, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s successes for Brazil and Portugal weren’t all that relevant when he was at Stamford Bridge – you simply have to treat club management and international management as two different disciplines, and therefore, perhaps it would be wiser to go with someone with some international management experience. For that reason, maybe Roy Hodgson would be the more suitable candidate?
Roy Hodgson is one of the most experienced English managers in the game, having begun his career back in 1971 with Maidstone United. Since then he has worked at club level in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland, as well as having managed the national teams of Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and, more recently, Finland, before he was appointed Fulham manager and his most recent Premier League incarnation began. Hodgson knows football, and he has a track record of taking teams without too many star players and making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Now, this is where the reality check needs to happen, and until it does England’s trophy cabinet will remain empty. The current England team just doesn’t have a great deal of world beaters. There’s huge potential in the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley and Daniel Sturridge, but Wayne Rooney remains the country’s only truly world class player, someone who can change a game single-handedly. Yet, the way Hodgson gets his teams playing, the work ethic he instils in them and the confidence with which they move the ball around the field, you could see him getting the best out of the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor or James Milner on the international stage.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see an England side built around hard working ball players like Scott Parker?
Critics will say that Hodgson doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to handling ‘star players’, pointing to his short spell at Liverpool as evidence, a period in which he was constantly undermined by the presence of Kenny Dalglish, which eventually led to his departure by mutual consent. However, maybe it’s time for England’s so-called ‘star players’, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard et al., to step aside. They, along with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, have been the spine of the team for years, with no success. Everyone complains about the players not wanting to wear the shirt. Well, in that case, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see an England side built around hard working ball players like Scott Parker? And if Hodgson could get Bobby Zamora scoring the way he did at Fulham then England would have far more potency in the final third.
Yet, I feel this may be wishful thinking, and that Hodgson’s hamstrung spell at Liverpool will ultimately rule him out of any further discussions, although, with the Chelsea job now available perhaps England will have some competition if they do decide to go for Harry Redknapp. Ok, he recently said that the job “wasn’t for him”, and that he’d never be allowed in North London again, but ask any Portsmouth fan what loyalty means to Harry Redknapp, and then wonder whether he’s simply weighing up all his options.
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