When Fabio Capello resigned as England manager, I couldn’t help but feel a little optimism. I was never a big fan of Capello, primarily because he wasn’t English, but that wasn’t his fault. Yet in the qualifiers building up to the World Cup he had built a squad which was organised and effective. They also did the most important thing in football; they won. At that point, I chose to ignore his nationality as if he led England to glory, I couldn’t have cared less. But then came South Africa. We heard tales of how poor his relationship with the squad was, and how he treated the squad of players like little children. Granted, some of them do have the reading and speaking ages of 7 year olds. Actually no, I’m being too generous to Wayne Rooney there. Back to the matter in hand though, after such a disastrous performance in that major tournament, the players were to blame. In part. But it seemed as though most of the players in the squad just didn’t perform. This was extraordinary. It wasn’t a lone player who decided not to ‘show up’ but most of the squad. The media was quick to point the finger at the manager. Weirdly, I found myself agreeing with them. Yep, you read that right, I agreed with the press. Therefore, I was actually quite glad when he decided to resign earlier this year.
Now I was quick to jump onto the Harry Redknapp bandwagon. I think that he has done well at Tottenham, especially looking at their great Champions’ League run in the 09/10 season. He is a great man-motivator, and most importantly English. I’ll be honest here, I completely forgot about Roy Hodgson (No, not ‘Woy’ stop reading that comic book called ‘The Sun’). Even though I admired the work which he did at Fulham and I was quick to jump to his defence once things turned sour during his reign at Liverpool. I think that he is a great manager, but not someone who I saw as a plausible candidate to manage the national team. I then dug a little deeper into this profound choice by the FA. Although I don’t agree with many of their choices on such matters, they do always have their reasons for making them. Firstly he has invaluable international experience in management as he led the Swiss national team to the knock-out stages of the 1994 World Cup, their first major competition since the 1960s. Secondly, he speaks a vast array of languages, and is a sophisticated man, interested in Art and American Literature (I know it’s American, but it still counts… Sort of) unlike that wheeler dealer ‘Arry who was accused of tax evasion earlier this year, yes he was found to be not guilty but it still tarnished his image. These things therefore make Roy Hodgson a suitable ambassador for England on the world stage.
Moving on to his management. I was in an AS English Literature exam when the squad for the European Championships was announced, and it’s safe to say that once I found out, I was surprised. I don’t think I was the only one either. The ‘snubbing’ of players such as Micah Richards, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and maybe even Daniel Sturridge was a shock. I completely expected the first three of the list to be some of the first names on the list! In my opinion, it was ridiculous to to leave them out. Micah Richards was instrumental in ensuring that Manchester City became Premier League Champions last season, yet he was replaced by Glen Johnson, a player who hadn’t really caught anyone’s eye and helped Liverpool to a measly 8th place. Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick had been the anchors of a Manchester United team which had been littered with injuries, but had still achieved second place in the Premier League. In addition, Daniel Sturridge would have been much more effective than Andy Carroll. I thought that this was some kind of a joke from Roy. ANDY CARROLL?! Oh dear.
He may have thought that Richards and Carrick would still have a part to play in his team as he placed them on the standby list. Yet in their arrogance, both of these players refused. It pains me that they did so. I bet they’re both feeling like idiots now. The injuries of Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard would have secured their places in the squad and they would now be packing for Poland and Ukraine. Instead, their places have been taken by Martin Kelly and Jordan Henderson. Now I don’t have a particularly anti-Liverpool agenda, but Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly don’t fill me with any hope whatsoever.
When Roy Hodgson was appointed, my usual pessimism toward English football was replaced with a glimmer of optimism. I’m now afraid to say that I have never been so pessimistic before a major international tournament than this one. I genuinely hope we do well, but I would not be surprised in the slightest if we do even worse than we did in South Africa. Until a few hours ago, I didn’t even think that was even possible… Hodgson may be a nice bloke, but as a manager, I haven’t got any hope. I wish him well though!
I leave you with this…