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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


Hodgson’s Choices

Written by on May 2, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Posted in England, European Championship

With Roy Hodgson having been confirmed as England manager for the next four years the speculation now moves to how he will deal with the multitude of pressing issues that the current squad faces.

Here are just five to be going on with. 

The Captain Issue- in an ideal (or indeed sensible) world, who takes on the role of England captain wouldn’t really matter but for the English, and for the English press in particular, it carries the same level of import as a US President selecting a member of the Supreme Court.

Hodgson could defuse weeks of discussion by simply announcing that Joe Hart will be his captain.

Hart is a top class player who is certain to be picked and who carries none of the baggage that weighs down so many other members of the squad.

Replacing Rooney- Hodgson’s most immediate concern on the field will be who he plays in place of the suspended Wayne Rooney for the first two games of Euro 2012. Does he play a system that Rooney can immediately slip into, or does he compensate for the lack of his only genuinely top class striker by adapting the system?

Bobby Zamora’s chances of being on the plane have surely increased with the appointment of a manager who got the best out of him at Fulham and Hodgson may indeed decide to play the QPR forward as “Rooney Lite” until the real deal arrives.

 The Youth Problem- in the first few weeks of the season it appeared that England had a whole host of young players that would soon be ready to step up to international level.

Sturridge, Cleverley, Wilshere, Jones, Welbeck and others were all being talked about as an exciting new generation.

Whether it be down to injuries or a dip in form almost all have dropped from that high watermark to varying degrees.

Hodgson has to decide if the upcoming Euros should be the final hurrah of an aging squad (and hope that they “do a Chelsea”) or the chance to introduce a group of young players to tournament football that will pay dividends in the coming years.

The phrase “between a rock and a hard place” springs to mind for this dilemma.

 Winning Over the Players- if there was one aspect of his time at Liverpool that has stuck with him it is that he couldn’t win over the “big name” players.

Aside from the fact this detracts from the players as much as it does Hodgson he will still have to convince the elite of England that he is the right man for the job.

Maybe his introductory remarks should be “I am known for getting the best out of mediocre players and that’s why I was put in charge of you lot” because if there is anything the current crop of England players need it is the removal of the belief that they are actually in the upper echelons of world footballing talent.

Winning Over the Press- if Hodgson was in any doubt that he would be under even more scrutiny than he was at Anfield then that was surely eradicated when one of the first questions was about his views on Apartheid (he played in South Africa in the 1970’s).

A number of polls have shown that England fans prefer Hodgson to Harry Redknapp for the job but that isn’t going to carry much weight with Fleet Street’s finest.

The simple answer is that Hodgson can only win over the tabloids by winning games and it is up to his employers at the FA to not be swayed by every lurid headline after every wayward performance and demonstrate that they are genuinely interested in the long term development of the game as opposed to the bells and whistles of the here and now.

Good luck Roy!

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6 responses to “Hodgson’s Choices”

  1. Peter Corcoran Snr says:

    I dont have a problem with the F.A,s choice. I think
    Roy Hodgson is a better choice than Harry Rednapp.
    Though Harry is a great coach, Roy has a vast experience in International soccer, He got a real bad deal at Liverpool, if what you say he never had a good interaction with senior players the present Liverpool squad must detest Daglish. Do you know Roy does presentations on tactics for FIFA, so they know who to rely on for this Job. And to finish he will pick a squad that do a job for him. Best of Luck Roy

  2. rdm says:

    With respect, even winning the vast majority of your games while in charge is no free pass with the press, one F. Capello springs to mind.

    Personally I like the idea of going with youth until you follow it through to its logical conclusion of: 2 months to prepare a squad to face competition who have consistently found them wanting. Why paint a whole new generation of players with the failure brush this early in their careers just for the sake of giving youth a chance? Better to try and go with a mix of the old and new, blood a few of the younger more established players this tournament and then at the WC when, it has to be hoped the old farts will have finally been jettisoned, you can (with time to prepare) form a squad of players who are familiar with the system, willing to PLAY the system and actually have a chance of bringing down a top class talented team (read: other teams) due to actual and useful hard work and team spirit.

    As opposed to what happens now which is 11 odd individuals working at doing their own thing as hard as possible at the expense of tactics and shape and awareness and etc etc.

  3. Charles Cherry says:

    Agreed for much of your article until you mentioned the polls. I listened to couple of sports programs when this was breaking from the Guardian and Talk Sports, and I have to tell you, most were not happy with The FA. Using descriptors such as “track suit” manager, negotiations held under a vail. Many said that Redknapp was the people’s choice, the players choice, and of course the media’s choice. Yet the FA committee totally mucked up the process. As a Spurs’ Supporter I am on the side that this cat and mouse between ‘arry and the FA, whether it was media created or not, was a major distraction that cause the team to play like a side that was headed for relegation. If it wasn’t for Arsenal, and Chelsea losing against teams they had already chalked on their board in the win column, Spurs would be looking at 6th. To further show how the FA actions were detrimental, they had to of known Levy was going to put a heavy price tag on ‘arry, absolutely had to of known. Though the FA coffers are full, that money was not going to be earmarked for the purchase of Redknapp, especially after the Capello pay out. No, Roy is a good choice, he was cheap, and he has the Continental experience to go against the opponents in their group, particularly, Sweden and the Ukraine. So no, I believe Hodgson was not as popular a choice as you lead on, but I do agree that once he starts winning over on the continent bringing home the results, we will not see the headlines like the one that ran in the Sun. Good read, enjoyed your insight.
    Charles Cherry

  4. Ed Gomes says:

    Some thoughts;

    1) The Captain issue is a huge problem. Although I’ve always felt that a mid or back should serve as Captains (forwards are selfish and goalies are to far away from the action), Hart would make the safe pick. The problem is that players like Terry would speak over him and really be in charge. Not a problem, except that Hart would look foolish as a puppet Captain. He might be smart enough to not want that.
    Why wouldn’t Gerard step up and want to grab that mantle?

    2) The striker issue is a huge concern, especially since I feel the wide players are highly overvalued. Walcott and Young are inefficient. I do feel that England has mids that could clog the midfield and cause major problems for opponents. The issue comes in when they move forward and always get caught up top and aren’t quick enough in tracking back. Rooney has also looked less than stellar this season. To say he’s been inconsistent is not enough.

    Youngsters have to go to the Euros for the experience alone. I might believe hat the Lamps and Terry’s of the squad are done, but we all know they won’t step aside. So roll the vets out there, but please let youngsters experience the scene for future reference.

    4) As long as Tery is there, there will be no need to win over anybody. If anything, this Chelsea resurgence has solidified Terry’s thinking of him being he man. He has clearly over stepped his bounds with DiMateo and will feel empowered to do the same with England.

    5) Press needs to sell papers and it’s a lot easier to be negative and outlandish in order to do so. Unfortunately for Hogson he has a squad that has only added to the bag of goodies for the press. He just needs to make light of situations and try to win them over with humor. They will push him, and if he loses it, he’s done.

    As for Harry, I actually feel he’s an ok manager, and that’s just about it. All in all I really think he should of done better with the Spurs. Bad rotation pattern which has cause the dip in form due to fatigue and other things. He has also done little to develop and take of advantage of Bale’s talents.
    But, the England job fiasco did hurt. Not to mention the Tax issue which he somehow skated on. LOL.

    Bobby, maybe I missed it, but was there a piece on this site about it. I know this is a sporting site, but it did affect the squad. I loved reading how one of his defenses was that his accent got him prosecuted. People just didn’t like it. LOL.

  5. John Bladen says:


    I like the choice of Hodgson as Mgr. Those suggesting he is just the latest sacrificial lamb may be proven right, but I hope not.

    There is no reason in the world to select the same bunch that have not managed to get it done thus far. Some of the younger players have dipped in form (and minutes) in the last month or two, while some of the old guard have shown better form. In my view, that is irrelevant. Even a full strength squad of the alleged golden generation won’t be enough to compete effectively in Euro 2012.

    Hodgson works best with younger players as you say. Rather than putting together a collection of the biggest names (which has never worked), he will hopefully pick two or three veterans to go with a youthful group of “maybes”.

    We know the old names just aren’t good enough. Even if the youngsters fail, playing them will provide benefits down the road. I hope RH has the courage (and FA backing) to select his own team, not just the names the idiot fans want to hear…

  6. Ed Gomes says:

    Ah there’s the rub JB, the FA backing.
    There won’t be any if he doesn’t stay the course, which is playing the old guard again.

    Most fans aren’t idiots, its just that the idiots scream the loudest.

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