Roy Hodgson… England Manager?

8 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   April 29, 2012  |     9

The timing was just right for tomorrow morning’s newspapers, but the name isn’t the one that most had expected to see at the top of their short-list. Earlier this evening, a statement appeared on the Football Association’s website confirming that they have made a formal approach to West Bromwich Albion to speak to Roy Hodgson over the position vacated by Fabio Capello two months ago. We had been starting to wonder whether an appointment would ever be made. After all, it’s only forty days until the start of the 2012 European Championships and the possibility that the FA had somehow forgotten that they should probably have a coach for this tournament – even if in name only – was starting to become a little less implausible than it might otherwise have been.

Hodgson may well of the old school, but he is a damn sight more cosmopolitan than any of the other Englishmen that might have been hoping for a call from Lord Bernstein. He has coached in eight different countries – Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland – speaks five foreign languages and has coached at international level, precisely the sort of qualifications for coaching this particular position that the bookmakers’ favourites for the position do not hold. Yet the very nature of the debate that has surrounded the matter of the next England coach has meant that the next England coach will be a divisive figure, no matter who he is.

There has been an unsubtle narrative in the media since Capello resigned, and it has largely concerned their favourite, Harry Redknapp. The succession of Redknapp into the England manager’s position has treated his appointment as being little more than a process of coronation, and should Hodgson and the FA agree terms it would be unsurprising to see some quarters of the football media looking a little red-faced at having called it so wrong. This in itself may well mean that Hodgson doesn’t receive anything like a honeymoon period should he be offered the position, meaning that that personal attacks may well be under way in around two months time should England not get through the group stages of the European Championships this summer. The editors of the red tops may already be sharpening their knives in preparation for this.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t have reservations about any decision to offer Hodgson the position that may be made over the next few days or so. His previous spells in high profile positions had mixed results. At Internazionale in Italy, he took the team into the UEFA Cup, but departed after a surprise defeat against the German side Schalke 04 in the final of the competition. At Liverpool, meanwhile, he lasted just a few months during a period within which the tumult within the club meant that any sort of success was always likely to be more or less impossible. In addition to this, that the Football Association may be preparing to offer the position to somebody that will be celebrating his sixty-fifth birthday in three months time could be considered a lack of long-term foresight. How long would Hodgson be employed for, and what does it say about coaching in England that the leading English candidates for the position are both into their seventh decades? More about the stating of coaching in this country than about the calibre of the candidates, in all likelihood.

That said, with expectations tempered by the chaotic events of the last few months (or, we could reasonably argue, years) it could well be argued that Hodgson would be taking the position at just right time. Those that are already sharpening their pencils, however, would have their agenda with his appointment, and while this summer’s European Championships may already be a lost cause, any failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals would be disastrous for the national team and the group stages begin on the seventh of September. The team doesn’t have an insurmountable task to get through its qualifying group, but Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland will provide tricky opposition and getting through these matches successfully cannot be considered anything like a foregone conclusion.

The appointment of Roy Hodgson into the England job would hand the English press a pre-written script on a plate. Indeed, if Twitter this evening is to be believed, some members of the fourth estate are already preparing their best lines in anticipation of what may be to follow. Between those with an agenda and those of the opinion that sarcasm is the highest form of wit, Hodgson will need a thick skin should he be appointed into the position at the very least, but at least he has been here and faced such criticism before. The agendas that will follow him into this position, however, are deeply ingrained and, we suspect in some of some of its expected proponents, highly personal. If the press didn’t even really get the opportunity to move out of second gear in its moves to attempt to systematically discredit Fabio Capello, then we may well see Hodgson on the receiving end of ridicule unseen since the latter stages of the Graham Taylor era of almost twenty years ago.

Ultimately, though, the choice of coach for the England national team remains the biggest red herring in European football. Until the English game sorts out its structural deficiencies it will, broadly speaking, continue along the same, long, downward trajectory that it has been following for much of the last decade, and there seems to be no appetite towards reshaping the club game, training methods and the system for bringing through more and better qualified coaches for the benefit of the national team. If anything, attitudes towards the England national team have never been more apathetic and this is not something that any managerial appointment would fix, no matter how many of Harry Redknapp’s cheerleaders might think otherwise. There may be some furious words written over the next few days over their man not being parachuted gently into the job, but they have one small consolation if this is how things end up playing out – at least they’ll have a punch-bag for the next couple of years.

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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • April 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    Poor bloke won’t be given even the merest hint of a chance by the Redknapp mafia (i.e. just about everyone) in the media, it’ll make the Graham Taylor treatment look mild. Even if he succeeds I can still see the Great Arry being given the credit in some oblique fashion.

  • April 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Frank Heaven

    Roy, I hope the comments on Twitter and from certain pundits are making you think twice about taking the England job.

    You must realise that the majority of people who support – and write about – the England national football team are deluded fools, and will heap unimaginable humiliation on you at the first point dropped in Euro 2012.

    Stay at the Albion, and your efforts in turning us into a respected PL team will continue to be warmly appreciated (not that we don’t have a few deluded fools ourselves).

  • April 30, 2012 at 12:01 am


    I was quite looking forward to Redknapp as that would have been the last straw for my support of England. Disowning the FA and England have been a long time coming for me, but Hodgson would be such a good appointment that I suppose I will end up suffering through another farcically undermanned Euro challenge this summer. So it goes.

  • April 30, 2012 at 8:23 am


    Part of me hopes Hodgson will have the sense to stay at WBA and build his reputation there rather than get shredded by the media unfairly all over again like he was at Liverpool.

    But then part of me wants to see just what he can do to England. He might have trouble dealing with the high paid prima donna players though. He should simply drop them and select players who want to play for England and not just for the money. I realise that would entail getting rid of the ‘experienced’ players in the squad but as the last WC showed having ‘experience’ in the squad counts fo rnothing if the team are simply not going to show up.

    Good luck to him if he does take it.

  • April 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Matt Smith

    I can’t see him getting a fair crack at the England job. The problems of the England set up (rubbish players revered as gods) are almost exactly the same as Liverpools. I can’t see Hodgson getting any more support in sorting these out than he did at Liverpool and he’ll be hounded out by the press and the mobs of baying supporters who parrot their every word.

    And Roy Hodgson deserves better than that.

  • May 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Chris Hume

    You are all mad and deluded. This is an appalluing appointment on so many levels it almost beggars belief. It didn’t have to be Redknapp but it sure as hell shouldn’t be this bloke. His record is a joke by the way. He ‘guided’ Inter Milan to 7th and was pelted by his own fans. Liverpool was a well documented disaster. Blackrn were bottom when he got sacked. His much vaunted ‘international success’ came in Denmark and Sweden. Are you kidding me? He is a dull uninspiring 4-4-2 man who regiments his teams. Good when you have a small squad and limited resources to aim for mid table. Not quite so good when you are trying to win games in an untra-competitive international tournament where ability to pick the right team and motivate them are the keys to success. International footballers don’t need to be coached. Do you think Aragones ;coaches’ Iniesta and Xavi?? He is the worst England appointment ever and is an indictment of the stupidity and incompetence at the FA. England have some veryu good players. This guy (if he picks the right one’s which I doubt) will ensure another dismal tournament.

  • May 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Bobby Miles

    Chris I think it is you who is ‘mad and deluded’. Selective anyhow…

    At Inter he took them to the UEFA Cup final where they lost a penalty shoot-out. They even got him back again a few years after he left, and today posted a very generous message on their website which suggests they have a good opinion of him.

    At Malmo he won the total league 5 consecutive times and the end of season playoff twice in those years (its like rugby league, the league season decides playoffs, the league winner is not necessarily the team who finished top) In those days Swedish club football was alright, IFK Gothenburg beat Dundee United in the ’87 UEFA Cup final after their Barcelona heroics.

    At Switzerland, he took them to their first tournaments in many years, back to back, 1994 and 1996. He took them to a world ranking of 3, one higher than England have ever been.

    I think this side of his career, put in this light, makes him look head and shoulders above Redknapp as a candidate, and frankly there aren’t any others despite what Bernstein said.

    You might also like to look into the identity of the Spain manager…

    P.S. Ian can you please make the comment box a darker font? I can hardly see any of the stuff below ‘Leave a Comment’ or what I’m writing. Ta.

  • May 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm


    Bobby, the whole site is to redesigned very shortly – in the next few days, hopefully – and this should take care of that issue.

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