Expectations were low heading into the World Cup in Brazil and understandably so after our horrific showings in previous major competitions. Despite that though, we still have an abundance of hyped up Premier League players such as Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson but, put bluntly, not many of them really took any game by the scruff of the neck and shone, apart from perhaps Raheem Sterling against Italy.
The quality of players available to England manager Roy Hodgson will be debated to death and probably for years to come. This is England, it’s what we do. They’re young though and with immaturity and inexperience comes errors and up and down performances. Personally, I don’t blame the players. They’ve given their all but have just come up short. Again. Will they improve? I think so. Is patience required? Probably. Is Roy Hodgson the man to get the best out of these rising kids? For me, no.
For a man that’s paid £3.5 million a year, Roy Hodgson hasn’t delivered in terms of fluent football and forward thinking management. Time and time again he has opted for a safer approach, not just in the World Cup, but in qualifying games. He defends first, attacks second. Considering our defence is arguably our weakest its been for years, basing our tactical approach around it and defending from the back was simply naive. We should be playing to our strengths, defending from the front and allowing our vast array of flair players to really make their mark. Going out of the World Cup is acceptable, we didn’t expect much, but going out without a real proper go at the opposition is unforgivable.
Hodgson’s defensive mentality has worked wonders domestically, most notably at Fulham where he led them to a Europa League final, a magnificent achievement from a fairly small club. On the flip side, his pragmatic approach didn’t win him many plaudits at Liverpool and he soon left. With quality attacking players available, a manager needs to be positive. All due respect to Fulham, but he didn’t have that at the club, so his tight, tough to break down approach was fully understandable. At Liverpool on the other hand, their supporters demand attacking football. The whole club from top to bottom does as they tend to possess players who flourish under that approach. England are no different and with the quality he had available to him in Brazil, the drab affairs us fans had to endure was simply embarrassing.
Roy Hodgson conducts himself really well and although this may seem like a complete and utter bashing, I do actually like the man. He’s respected throughout football, the media clearly like him and you’ll struggle to find anyone within the game who has a bad word to say about him. This, though, is exactly the problem.
The FA and their out of touch cronies have found themselves a manager who goes about his business quietly, without really upsetting anyone. Until now, that is, where he’s been exposed. It’s taken them a while since the disasters of Sven and Capello but they’ve finally got there. You sense Hodgson is liked behind the scenes and his calm manner and well conducted press conferences mean nothing out of the ordinary is ever said. He’s a safe option, a good man and it’d take a hell of a lot for his ‘friends’ at the FA to turn against him.
Sadly, with his obsession over defensive approaches in mind, it could really be to the detriment of our youngsters who are used to playing open, expansive football throughout the season with their respective clubs. BUT IT’S OK THOUGH, HE’S A BLOODY GOOD BLOKE!
England are approaching a new era full of young talent who will hopefully improve heading into the Euros in 2016. With young, fresh faces in the squad, it’s time for a fresh, more modern approach to take this next batch of prospects to the next level. Roy Hodgson’s a lovely man who deserves some credit, but it’s time he stepped aside. He’s out of his depth and hasn’t really proved otherwise.
By Leon Duffy – Bromley fan