June 5, 2012 / 1:11 AM / 6 years ago

Hodgson's job helped by England's low expectations

LONDON (Reuters) - One month on from his appointment as England’s manager even some of his more hostile media critics are beginning to accept the FA chose the right man for the job following two steady wins in his opening two matches.

Judging by some of the negative reaction to the FA’s decision to select him as manager and not the popular Harry Redknapp, anyone would have thought he was an inexperienced beginner who had no right to be considered for the job.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as a look at the 64-year-old’s impressive CV shows and although not too much can be read into two relatively low key wins against Norway and Belgium, the first glimpses of Hodgson’s organisational capabilities were clearly there to be seen.

And by taking charge of a side that, for once, no-one in the normally hysterical English media expects to do well, might just work in his favour. With the pressure off, he might get England to do better than they usually do in major tournaments.

By his own admission Hodgson was an average player with Maidstone United, Tonbridge Angels and Crystal Palace reserves in the 1960s but he is far from being an average manager.

The England job is his fourth international appointment after stints with Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates and he has coached in eight countries in all.

Hodgson has not been successful everywhere - he was sacked at Blackburn Rovers in 1998 and at Liverpool last season after a six-month spell at Anfield.

On the plus side he took unfashionable Fulham to the final of the Europa League in 2010, Inter Milan to the UEFA Cup final in 1997 and has won league wins in Denmark and Sweden.

Much of the negative reaction to Hodgson’s appointment came from the media, baying for weeks that Tottenham Hotspur manager Redknapp was a certainty for the job.


The pundits were angry to be proved wrong, vented their spleen on Hodgson, but now that petty spat is out the way, they seem prepared to give him a chance, and at last a sense of reality may be in the air at last.

England being England of course a major scandal is only around the corner and Hodgson came under fire in certain quarters for not calling Rio Ferdinand back into the squad following the injury that ruled out Gary Cahill.

Instead he turned to Liverpool rookie Martin Kelly with Ferdinand’s representatives accusing him of “a total lack of respect” in ignoring the former skipper.

Hodgson has weathered bigger storms and once this one blows over, the general air of calm, somewhat lacking under his predecessor Fabio Capello, should return to the squad.

Capello’s resignation as manager in February, despite an unbeaten qualifying campaign, a series of injuries ruling out key players, striker Wayne Rooney’s two-match ban which rules him out of the first two matches and a lack of flair in the team have all played a part in watering down optimism among the fans.

According to FA chairman David Bernstein, Hodgson could “walk into training grounds around the world and command instant respect” with a reputation built on solid and methodical coaching principles rather than major silverware.

Then again, his eight domestic titles scattered around lesser leagues such as Sweden and Denmark are an impressive haul and he is also the first manager appointed by the FA with previous experience in an international role.

Hodgson was appointed on May 1 but completed the season with West Bromwich Albion, where he was manager for little more than a year, before re-adjusting his focus on how to make England a force at Euro 2012 where they must negotiate a group containing France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.

It is a daunting task for a man who failed at Liverpool but did well at West Brom, a club who looked sound under his guidance.

To his credit there was no attempt, during his first news conference at Wembley when he got the job, to gloss over what faces him.

“We will always go into tournaments believing we can win because we are a major football nation,” said Hodgson.

”It’s not going to be easy and it will be even more difficult on this occasion because the man who qualified the team has left and I’ve come in at a very late stage.

“It’s very important everyone gets behind the team and gets behind the players. It’s a big job to win people over and the only way I can do that is by doing the job I know I can do,” Hodgson added.

Former England midfielder and now FA technical director Trevor Brooking, who was instrumental in the appointment, said Hodgson had a tough job on his hands.

“In 2008 we didn’t qualify (for the European Championship) and in 2010 (World Cup) it was a poor tournament,” Brooking said.

“In some respects the expectancy level going out there this summer (is low) ... but I do believe Roy is a good choice who can evolve and improve this current squad.”

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