Tag: England

Impossible To Love, Questionable Inclusions & The Fluidity Of Porridge: Business As Usual For England

So there it is, then. The provisional England squad for the 2012 European Championships. On what was at the time a slow news day, this was always likely to provoke a considerable amount of comment, but the hysteria yesterday morning and earlier this afternoon might have taken the most dedicated of frenzy-watchers by surprise. As one o’clock ticked over, the anticipation reached fever pitch. Five minutes later, though, the only sound really audible was that of slowly deflating balloons. Quite what people expected from the announcement of the England squad for the 2012 European Championships is open to question. It would have been nice if an FA spokesman in a white coat holding a clipboard had stepped out and said, “We’ve been working on this for quite a while. After years of trying, we have finally managed to clone the Dutch team from the 1974 World Cup finals and kept them in hibernation so that they qualify to play for England under residency rules”, but the reality of England’s position is that any manager has a very limited palette in terms of who he has at his disposal. As such, perhaps the reality of seeing that list of twenty-three names was a reminder to some that, for all the sunniness which followed the FAs decision to bring in Roy Hodgson rather than Harry Redknapp as the manager at this time,...

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Premature Rejection: The Fourth Estate And Roy Hodgson

Once the announcement had been made, they acted with admirable speed. It took just two days from an announcement appearing on the Football Association’s website on Sunday afternoon for an interview to be held and, this afternoon, a press conference to follow confirming that Roy Hodgson is the new manager of the England national football team. This, however, is already a manager without a honeymoon period. The press started drawing their knives before the decision had even been formalised and, of course, long before a ball is kicked in his name by his team. This decision, it was clear, had already been made. The job was not going to the man that the football press wanted, and the man chosen above him now seems likely to reap the full force of their ire. Chief of the cheerleaders against him has been Martin Samuel of The Daily Mail. Samuel has managed no less than three articles of various states of caterwauling over the last forty-eight hours or so, a degree of saturation coverage which can only lead the reader towards perception that he may, perhaps, be taking all of this a little bit too personally. On Monday, he was complaining that – and it’s worth remembering before reading any of the following that the FA later confirmed that they hadn’t considered anyone else for the position at all – “Ensconced...

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Roy Hodgson… England Manager?

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...

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European Championship Stories: 1996 – A Whole New Ball Game

It almost goes without saying that the near-death – and very much beyond – experiences suffered by English football during the 1980s shaped the game that we watch today. There was a time – a period from the middle to the end of that decade – when the definite feeling that this was a game on its last legs became tangible. Crowds dwindled to somewhere beyond what might have been considered the bare bones, whilst an unhappy trinity of disasters carried both a literal and symbolic loss, with deaths that represented scores of personal tragedies alongside a wider sense of corrosion in what had been the nations number one pastime. Yet well within a decade, the hype was telling us that all was right with the world again, and the 1996 European Championships became a celebration of this rebirth, whether we liked it or not. With the benefit of almost a generations worth of hindsight, it is possible to consider that the most shocking thing about the Bradford fire, the Heysel Stadium disaster and the Hillsborough tragedy is not that they happened in the first place – each of this three had their roots in systematic neglect of the game from those charged with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of spectators – but that they happened within such a short space of time. After Bradford and Heysel, sticking plasters were...

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Hope & Despair, Or, Why Stuart Pearce Cannot Succeed As The England Manager

Amid all the bluster about Englands match against the Netherlands last night (a match already being described by some as “That Thing That Happened At Wembley”), Mark Critchley thinks that he may have spotted the real reason why Stuart Pearce cannot succeed as the England manager. To be English is to be afflicted. History’s ever-unravelling twine simply doesn’t have the courtesy to cut this seat of Mars a bit of slack, and thanks to Western civilisation’s added prejudice against demographics of a largely white, heterosexual and male background, the England football team understand this more than most. Gary Lineker, in his documentary Can England Win the Next World Cup? opined ‘there are all sorts of reasons why we’ve been so unsuccessful for so long’. No Gary, there is only one. It is not because our coaching structures are as unmanned as a Maeve Binchy appreciation evening on Sputnik 1. It is not because our children are told to, God forbid, win the Kelly’s Erotic Cakes Junior County Challenge Cup and liquidise the skulls of any kid tactically astute enough to get in their way. And you know what, it is not because the media in this country chum up to dumb young prodigies, capitalise on any microscopic failure of theirs and then slip them the required change for their final, cortex-collapsing can of Tennent’s Super. No, it’s none of...

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