Thursday, 3 May 2012

Get behind Roy Hodgson as the new England manager

Wilshere, Walker, Walcott? no problem
He mightn't have been your choice as England boss but are you right behind Roy? I am and here's why.

He was appointed by the FA without recourse to interview. The favourite Harry Redknapp didn't even get a look in. But we shouldn't be too surprised by Hodgson getting the nod. His appointment follows a distinctly conservative course plotted by the FA recently.

As the media were completing the coronation of David Dein as FA chairman, it was David Bernstein who was crowned behind the scenes too.

Known as quiet, efficient and rather businesslike, it doesn't take a huge leap to imagine Hodgson preferred to Redknapp in the corridors of power. The culture clash probably didn't even start there either. A quick phone call to Dan Levy in the Tottenham boardroom to check the millions in compensation required, might've made his mind up even in advance. 
Young Roy

Next phone call: West Bromwich Albion! Bernstein was very complimentary to them in the news conference.

But Hodgson's greatest credentials may lie within his consensus approach to management. He admitted his first job will be to get John Terry and Rio Ferdinand talking again after the two fell out over the racial abuse Terry's accused of shouting at Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's game at QPR earlier this season.

He admitted to being great friends with Harry Redknapp, who graciously left voicemail of congratulations on Hodgson's mobile. Roy said he and Harry were cast as great rivals for now, but will resume a great friendship again soon.

It's these perceived qualities of so called lesser importance that my well yet lead to success at international level for the WBA boss.

Because what is being international manager anyway? It's nothing like being a club boss: he's not with his players everyday. Instead he steals a week with them before each international and a few weeks during tournaments. His plans for selection are ripped up during the rigours of a league season, and there's no such thing as canny dealings in the transfer market to strengthen a squad. Mind you, Jack Charlton did his best to persuade non Irishman to his cause (and succeeded).

Of his international and European credentials, Hodgson is second to none in experience. England will be his fourth international assignment. Throw in Inter twice, Blackburn and Liverpool (neither of which went that well) and he's managed the very best. We well remember the success of Fulham's Europa League season ending in final defeat to Atletico Madrid two years ago.

Rivals but friends, but rivals. Vanquished Harry
There's an element of good fortune in the timing of Hodgson's appointment too. He has just 40 days and 40 nights to make England ship shape. Like Roberto di Matteo's highly succesful tenure as Chelsea caretaker, I think he'll pay respect to the elder statesman who earned England qualification instead of opting for youth in some sort of fitful revolution. Promising phone calls to the leading characters in the squad will give him a clear view of their togetherness in advance.

It's easy for him to tell the gathered media that reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 is a realistic target in a way that Fabio Capello couldn't possibly have in charge over four years. Hodgson's managed expectations just by arriving in time for the plane to Poland and Ukraine.

He's called for unity and only a foolish lobby wouldn't grant him that. Yes, probably like you I fancied Harry for the job, but I'm right behind Roy and I'm asking you to be too.

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