So Roy Hodgson has emerged as the ‘shock’ candidate for the job of England manager. He is in talks with the FA and seeing that the FA have gone public with this news, then it seems inevitable that he will be offered and accept the job. The ‘shock’ part of all this is that the media had already appointed Harry Redknapp months ago, on what basis or on whose say so nobody knows, but the crowning had already taken place and now there is a lot of backtracking to do.
There are a lot of funny pieces around today examining why the FA have ‘gone cold’ on Redknapp, is it because of Spurs’ recent poor form, is it because Hodgson will be cheaper to get than Redknapp? Who the hell said that the FA were ever hot for Redknapp? There are even some stories speculating whether Hodgson will have the backing of the players because the likes of Rooney and Rio Ferdinand have tweeted ‘support’ for Redknapp. Well of course they bloody did, the entire media was telling them that he was about to become the England manager.
The media have not managed to propel their candidate into the job and this will no doubt lead to some residual bitterness on their part. Also the hype around Redknapp they have been fuelling might leave some fans feeling that they have got a set of Encyclopaedias for Christmas instead of the Wii they had been ‘promised’, see this for example (why no Harry?). Well, sometimes something substantial is preferable to the instant gratification of something flashy.
The timing here does demand some questions though. The FA are on record saying that they were taking their time over the appointment because they did not want to disrupt the season of any club. Seeing that Hodgson’s West Brom team has been sitting comfortably in mid table pretty much all season this now rings a bit hollow. The FA have been messing about for months and letting the perception grow that Harry was a shoe in. Hence they have managed to put Hodgson under pressure from day one from a disgruntled media and perhaps a section of disgruntled fans (though from personal experience I do not think Redknapp was as popular a choice as the media would have you believe).
So will Hodgson be a good England manager? I may have been slightly dismissive in the past (here) but given the FA’s desire to go British after Capello’s departure then he is a sensible appointment. He would seem to be the proverbial safe pair of hands and to my mind he certainly has better relevant experience and a better technical toolset for this particular job than the more slippery charms that Redknapp can offer.
If expectations remain realistic and if gets some luck he may even end up becoming everyone’s favourite football granddad, emulating the late, great Sir Bobby Robson.
by Nilesh Bhagat