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The Hodgson Assessment

Wednesday 24th July 2013
Fourteen months ago, The FA named Roy Hodgson as the new Head Coach of the national team, our England correspondent Rob Wildey takes a look at whether England have improved since his arrival.

England have been light years behind the likes of Spain, Germany and even France for some time now and since the unthinkable happened when we failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren, alarm bells have been ringing. The FA suits have been looking for excuses as to ‘what happened', when the sad, but simple, fact is that England, as a footballing nation, just are not good enough.

Time after time we are subjected to false hope. Leading up to a big tournament, the national media go into overdrive giving us hope, a false sense of security that, eventually, kicks us in the teeth. ‘This will be our year', they cry.

Fabio Capello came and tired, but his CV and reputation never lived up to its billing and after a poor World Cup showing in 2010, he resigned. That year, we were lucky to scrape through the group, but facing the Germans was a daunting prospect. Frank Lampard's wrongly disallowed goal took our attention away from the sheer fact that England were outclassed in every department. Although pointing the finger solely at the manager is unfair, Capello didn't inspire the players when they needed it most.

Capello walked and just weeks before the Euro 2012 campaign got underway, it was widely believed that Harry Redknapp would be the FA's choice. But, surprisingly, West Bromwich Albion confirmed that they had given permission for their manager to speak to the England bosses. From that point, mental brainstorming began. What was Hodgson's biggest asset, why had he been earmarked as an England manager? Thoughts turned to his previous international experience (as manager of Switzerland and UAE) but to me, it was the fact that West Brom were organised and very difficult to beat. They were punching well above their weight in the Premier League. The first task Hodgson would have to do is steady the ship, make England hard-to-beat and competitive.

After scraping through their Euro 2012 group in second place, England came up against the Italians. After 120 minutes of nerve jangling football, in which England rode their luck several times, you just thought that someone up there was smiling on us. Then came the dreaded penalty shootout, England's biggest nightmare. As usual, we bowed out. Unlike in 2010, the Three Lions could hold their heads high, we tried, but came up against a better side. Without disgracing themselves, they crashed out. Since that tournament, England have proved a point or two. Beating Italy (the very team that knocked them out) and drawing against Brazil has shown the world that England can compete.

What is the next step for Roy? Without stating the obvious, qualification for World Cup 2014 is a must. The forthcoming game against Scotland must take a lower priority than the Moldova game, which is more important in every way. But does the England boss pick his tried and trusted players, or does he take a huge gamble and go with less experienced heads, but with more potential? The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Cleverley and Daniel Sturridge have come to the fore in recent times, and have added some unpredictability in the side. It is a tough one for Hodgson. He picks the experienced heads, England loses, he gets lambasted. He picked inexperienced players with a point to prove, England lose, he gets lambasted. This is where a good coach will earn his money- and this is why the England job is one of the biggest and toughest in World football.

Overall, despite the changes in style of football not being drastic, Hodgson has made England harder to beat. Not being the best team in the world is acceptable if you have a desire to compete with the best. England certainly have some form of pride back- now we need results. Over to you, Roy.
Rob Wildey

Total articles: 27

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