ROY Hodgson has been appointed manager of England. The same hypocritical London-based press who laid into Liverpool for not giving the well-travelled 64-year-old from Croydon enough time to instil his methods onto the Anfield club are already showing evidence of discontent.
That bastion of honesty, integrity and professionalism called the Sun has already created two headlines. One front page mocking Hodgson’s speech impediment-‘ BWING ON THE EUWOS’ and a headline on their website- ‘England expects (but not a lot Roy so that should help you out)’ on its website. Not to mention a cartoon image of Hodgson with a speech bubble ‘WE WUZ WOBBED’. Please note an article on the Huffington Post stated this was the case and I asked a friend of mine to check the Sun’s website to confirm it. For the simple reason is that I despise that paper and everything it stands for and refuse to read even an advert from it. But the Sun is not alone in its staggering double standards.
It seems to be that as long as England aren’t affected by a manager out of his depth, then they should get more time. Roy Hodgson is a decent man, but his results, team’s performances, interviews, demeanour and general expectations not to mention his inability to strike up a rapport with the Kop like Rafa Benitez or Kenny Dalglish had, ensured his tenure was only going to be a short one. However when that tenure inevitably ended, the national tabloids were unimpressed and wheeled out the likes of Alan Hansen to question why Hodgson had not been given enough time when they were lying 13th in the table, lower than their current position now despite a horrific run in the second half of this season.
This is why the London-based scribes have argued against his appointment to coach the national team, but the blatant hypocrisy is that they weren’t saying it when he was in charge of one of the most successful clubs in Europe. In terms of historical achievements and worldwide fanbase, and regardless of what Martin Samuel thinks, Liverpool is a bigger job than England. England has won one major trophy since we ‘invented the game’ and even a man with the best CV in club football could not steer the Three Lions past the second round of a World Cup, which makes me wonder what exactly makes Harry Redknapp a better bet?
Redknapp’s achievements include taking a Tottenham team from second bottom in October 2008 to Champions League qualification a year and a half later and getting results out of some talented players mixed in with some bargain signings. Scott Parker and Rafael van der Vaart cost a combined £13m. However his only trophy is the FA Cup in 2008 with an expensively-assembled (by their standards) Portsmouth squad, so given the media are craving an international trophy, what evidence is there that he’s the answer?
Before someone says ‘man-management’, I know Roberto Di Matteo’s infinitely greater rapport with the Chelsea dressing room leaders than predecessor Andre Villas-Boas had, has undoubtedly been a key component of the Blues’ run to the Champions’ League and FA Cup finals. But it’s not the be all and end all. Roy Evans was loved by his players at Liverpool but never matched the expectations as the Spice Boys fiasco ran amok. Manchester United’s winning cycle began when Sir Alex Ferguson stamped out the partying and drinking culture that was destabilising the club’s attempts to wake from its slumber.
And the main exhibit I am going to put forward was the 2006 World Cup. The ‘golden generation’, a monker I giggle sarcastically at, were pampered and given what they wanted under Sven Goran Eriksson. Baden-Baden was like a holiday camp, the WAGs took over the town and the FA were left red-faced with embarrassment. If Harry Redknapp has such a friendly relationship with his players, what is 2014 going to be? The English WAGs’ Copacabana beach party? But the players’ preference of a ‘man-manager’ being in charge instead of the best man for the job does nothing more than promote the idea England’s footballers have a sense of entitlement rather than possess the work ethic, humility and desire to reach the top that their German and Spanish counterparts are blessed with.
And yet our tabloid hacks continue to promote the idea that it HAS to be an Englishman when only two English managers have picked up a domestic or European trophy since the turn of the millennium. One of those is, as has already been mentioned, their number one choice for the position this time around. The other? Well I shall mention his name because it’s Steve McClaren, who won the League Cup in 2004 for Middlesbrough, took on the poisoned chalice at too early a point in his career and paid the price with England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008. However since then he led FC Twente to their first Dutch Eredivisie championship. Is that really a lesser achievement than an FA Cup won by beating two Championship outfits in the semi and the final?
And I am not knocking Harry Redknapp in all of this as he is a well-respected manager who has performed excellently for Tottenham Hotspur and also at Pompey, but I want to know why football writers down south champion him as some sort of Messiah while Fabio Capello, a man with a European Cup and eight league titles with four of the biggest clubs in the world never mind Europe, is an object of ridicule and xenophobic taunts for his difficulties with the English language just for achieving, albeit with a 73% win percentage, what every England supremo since the great Sir Alf Ramsey has done- no silverware!
Oliver Holt in particular loves championing Redknapp and sticking the knife into Capello for an admittedly disappointing 2010 World Cup, but maybe if the players had bought into his tough, no-nonsense methods instead of pining for the English ‘man-manager’ who will let them go out on the lash like the rugby squad did in New Zealand, then who knows, maybe we’d have got a little bit closer to realising our dream. But yes British media, Harry Redknapp is a much better football manager than Fabio Capello. Look at the CVs! Roy Hodgson has won seven Swedish Allsvenskan and two Svenska Cupen. Better than that Italian who couldn’t speak English!!
England will not be playing quick, entertaining, incisive football on a regular basis until the revamping of the youth development program bears its fruit. For now, we’ll have to make do with the younger players and trying to form a team out of them. The best team, not the best players. Then again those in Fleet Street might complain that brave, honest man John Terry or their beloved Frank Lampard might be phased out of the squad. It’s an impossible job in the short term. Hodgson will soon realise that and he will require a skin thicker than oil. He cannot win.
But above all else I hope Fleet Street’s finest vultures lay off the man and accept the fact England are not going to be tournament challengers until the youth program changes achieve results, get over the fact their man was not appointed and above all else quit the xenophobic assessments of foreign coaches who are technically and tactically superior to our own.
Here’s hoping. Tick tock.
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