You may love him or loathe him, but I am sure Roy Hodgson expected a better reception within the media about his possible appointment as England manager. The West Brom boss will do well to stay away from the newspapers this morning, where the underlying theme in most is that England has gone from ‘Fab to drab’. Incredibly harsh perhaps, given Hodgson’s managerial experience in both domestic and international football, but totally predictable given Fleet Street’s love of Harry Redknapp. Is Hodgson the man to reinvigorate the nation’s football? It has a smacking of doing it on the cheap to me.
Obviously the FA have come out this morning with the usual comment that Hodgson is the only candidate they have looked at, but let’s be honest it is all about money. Both Sven and Fabio’s tenure was dogged by criticisms about their bumper contracts and the FA were clearly determined that they wouldn’t make the same financial mistake again. I firmly believe that Harry Redknapp was their first choice as manager, but realised that there was no way they could get him on the cheap with compensation packages and Harry’s likely wage demands. The Tottenham boss knew he was wanted by the media and most supporters; therefore knew he could drive a hard financial bargain. The FA needed a Plan B and therefore Hodgson was the safe and sensible selection.
Hodgson’s CV is impressive and he is vastly experienced, but let’s be honest so was both Sven and Fabio. The problem they faced was not their tactical know-how, but their ability to motivate and inspire an England dressing room that is full of egos and diverse personalities when the chips were down. They also struggled to get the backing of the media, which history show now plays a massive part in the job as their words and opinions tend to rub off on supporters, increasingly making the job a poisoned chalice once the results started to turn against the manager. Harry Redknapp has Fleet Street eating out of his hands, which would have only helped him through the job in taking the pressure off him. Hodgson won’t be afforded such time and every dropped point or defeat will bring with it the whole debate and questioning over his appointment.
I’ll be interested to hear the FA’s statements and press conference in the coming days, should Hodgson get the likely nod to lead England going forward. When the inevitable questions come up about why they ignored not only the nation’s favourite, but also that of key England players (who tweeted their backing of Redknapp in the wake of Capello leaving) it will be interesting to hear their reasoning. They of course will use phrasing like ‘International experience’, ‘managed at the top level at Inter’ and the right man ‘to lead developments at the new St George’s Park development’, but the bottom line is they didn’t have the resources to install the man that they and most neutrals wanted in the England dugout. They will never discredit Roy Hodgson by saying it, but I can’t help but feel that will be their underlying feeling.