Due to the sheer importance of the world cup qualifying campaign, both on football and financial terms, a lot of pressure has been placed on England manager Roy Hodgson to succeed, most of it being unreasonable in my opinion.
A drab 0-0 draw in Ukraine caused many English fans to raise questions about the direction the national team were heading in. On reflection of the form Ukraine were in and taking into account the lack of need for risk to be taken, this result was a very profitable result to say the least. Prior to the England match Ukraine were buzzing with confidence after convincingly beating Montenegro away from home, with England knowing first hand how much of a difficult task this can be, and demolishing minnows San Marino by a nine goal margin. Even though England were by no means easy on the eye during the Ukraine trip, they were able to hold the Ukrainian side to a draw, leaving two home qualifiers to settle their fate.
It fascinates me how much of a short term memory some football pundits and fans have, with many questioning England’s ability to qualify at the start of the campaign due to a poor display during the 2012 European Championships. I for one would have taken a position where with two games remaining our fate would be in our own hands with only home matches remaining. Thankfully some of these questions have been eased following the impressive 4-1 victory over Montenegro over the weekend, leaving only a home match against Poland to determine the nations fate.
You have to feel for Roy Hodgson, a man thrown into the job only months prior to a major tournament, with the hierarchy above him in complete turmoil. His ability to get us out of the group stages of the tournament was an achievement in itself based on these facts. Since these championships he has been a breath of fresh air for the national side. Victories over Brazil, Italy, Sweden and Belgium, as well as only one defeat during his reign have highlighted how a team led by him are capable of achieving success. Alongside this he has picked players based on form rather than the classic last name basis.
Players such as Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines, Raheem Sterling and Ricky Lambert have all been given the opportunity to flourish under the Wembley lights due to their club form, rather than the constant inclusion of players such as Ashley Young and James Milner who were barely getting minutes on the pitch for their club sides. For this reason alone I believe Roy Hodgson is the best man for the job, giving young English players something to spire to, knowing that they will be given a fair opportunity.
The alternative choice at the time was now QPR manager Harry Redknapp, a man who is never too far away from bad publicity, who has since been relegated from the premier league with the said club. Also a lack of the Uefa A license qualification supposedly required to coach in the premier league makes it in my opinion apparent that Harry Redknapp is a very outdated coach and whilst he may have the experience, he is lacking in new and inventive ideas on the training ground that will help England adapt to the change in style of the world game. Finally the majority of Redknapp’s success has been based on his ability to purchase top players with a seemingly unreachable budget. The fact he was the face of ‘sky sports transfer deadline day’ highlights this fact and with this option non existent on the international scene then I have to assume he will struggle when the going gets tough.
In conclusion I believe Roy Hodgson needs to be given time in the England hot seat, as if home grown managers are the theme for the FA hierarchy at the minute then I can’t see anybody better at this moment in time. With the game against Poland the only obstacle facing England in their quest to qualify for Brazil, I believe they will comfortably reach this goal. As for progression in the world cup itself, this is a whole different ball game, with many things needing to be addressed in the time before the tournament begins. A kind draw and a bit of luck however could lead to them reaching the latter stages and from there on in anything can happen.
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