He's Slammed The ePetition To Stop T-Clevz Heading To World Cup But Who Does Roy Hodgson Really Report To?
The issue around the Tom Cleverley online petition raises an interesting conundrum – and it’s not the one about whether he’s good enough (on current form) to warrant a place in the starting line-up for his country. The answer to that is a simple ‘no’, there’s simply too big a queue in front of him in central midfield with the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Henderson – who’s been a revelation this season after an indifferent start to his Liverpool career, Lallana, Wilshere, Barkley, Carrick… Christ, even James Milner has shown more inventiveness and dull reliability this season.
The question the petition raises is whether Woy is right to ignore it, vilify its creation and criticise those who’ve signed it. The public have put their names to it for a reason – they simply don’t think Cleverley justifies inclusion in a World Cup squad, and as England supporters who care passionately about their team, their opinions (nearly 14,000 of them at the time of writing) count.
As a national team manager, Hodgson has a duty to represent the country as best he can – and if that includes taking into account vociferous objection to his continued deployment of a mediocre midfielder experiencing a turbulent season at a club in considerable turmoil, (by its own high standards), then hey, so be it.
Woy suggested that the petition is making Cleverley a scapegoat for Man Utd’s poor season, which is missing the point wholly – his club isn’t even mentioned in the petition, and this is an extrapolation too far in a vain bid to rebut the calls for his omission. The whole Utd team has come under fire this season and while Cleverley hasn’t escaped it, he hasn’t been deemed the reason, (Fellaini, Rooney, RvP, Kagawa, Smalling, Rio – there are plenty of ‘scapegoat’ candidates).
Taking aside the issue about whether petitions are the way to make your point, (this episode could set a dangerous precedent), Hodgson’s response hasn’t taken its aim fully into account, and ignores the fact that he should listen to fans’ calls more so as a national team boss.
What Hodgson needs to understand is that as a national boss, he has a national duty to listen to his supporters and take their views into account. My worry is he will stiffen his back instead and continue to play someone in a critical position which he – currently – has no right to possess. As the petition states: “We believe for the reputation of this proud footballing nation that he should be prevented from participating in this summer's international showcase.”
Maybe it’s time for Woy to listen to the vocal support, and to do what many in his country is calling for.
Follow Chris on Twitter, @wonky_donky