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Roy Hodgson – Perfect man for the job, or perfect fall guy?

by Wayne Barton , 30 April 2012

Is Agent Woy really England’s number 1?

Within minutes of the confirmation from the FA and West Bromwich Albion that Roy Hodgson was to be interviewed for the vacant England manager position, switchboards and news shows asked the stand out question – what happened to Harry Redknapp?

Redknapp seemed nailed on before Tottenham Hotspur’s downturn in form – a seemingly endless flirtation between the experienced coach and the English tabloids looked set to end with him taking the poisoned chalice of the national team hotseat, yet out of left field has come the appointment of Hodgson. Despite the insistence that Hodgson is the first and only person the FA have officially approached, England Supporters Club spokesperson Mark Perryman urged some clarity and honesty about the situation with Redknapp.

Called on for his opinion, England legend Kenny Sansom questioned why Pep Guardiola, soon to be sans his Barcelona pressure, hadn’t been called upon. That such an absurd suggestion would be hypothesised says all that needs to be said about the enthusiasm with which Hodgson’s appointment has been greeted.

Hodgson is a safe appointment by the FA. A man with immense professional pride who would not turn down his country when they came calling; a man renowned lately for his motivation of unlikely lads, with his recent jobs at Fulham and West Brom sandwiching the forgettable and regrettable stint at Anfield. In a position where the FA all but picks the squad and the tabloids pick the team, all that is needed is a motivational speaker, and Hodgson is at least comparable with Redknapp – a cheaper option, and a sitting duck to bear the brunt when things get tough.

Hodgson was never going to turn down the opportunity but you can’t help but feel sorry for him knowing what lies in wait. What with the attention being on who should have got the position, Hodgson is already on a hiding to nothing, certain to be characterised in the same fashion as Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren before him. Results will, at some point, go against him, and when he so much as rubs his face or makes an impression, then the savage headline writers will pounce.

 

That’s not to say he can’t do a job amid the petty and pathetic vultures – the aforementioned motivational skills galvanised Fulham to a Europa League final and has done wonders with West Brom. Liverpool fans won’t need reminding of the timely statistic that Hodgson has as many league wins at Anfield this calendar year as the club he was sacked from before he went to the Hawthorns! And as much as he’s an easy target for the media, he has a quiet personal life, typically shunning the limelight.

Hodgson has worked all over the continent, has experienced some of the most high profile positions and is used to working in unfavourable circumstances – while many find Redknapp unpalatable, you’d be hard pushed to find a contender more universally liked by domestic supporters. The “Barmy Army” will get behind him and there is barely time for the tabloids to orchestrate a scandal. As a short term appointment, even if that’s all it is, then there is hardly anyone better – despite the initial furore and fanfare that will inevitably surround his arrival, the attention won’t be on him as a person for long, as he doesn’t cultivate it.

Perhaps the perfect conclusion would have been to have had Hodgson perform a dual role with a choice to be made after the European Championships, but the FA typically backed themselves into a corner by delaying making the decision, and now they have had to make a permanent appointment, Hodgson will at least have to be given until the World Cup in 2014 – he’s almost become the ideal candidate for all the right and all the wrong reasons. On a hiding to nothing?

If Perryman is representative of England supporters, then Hodgson is the likeable guy nobody really wanted at the helm. Maybe it’s a can’t win scenario for Hodgson, or a can’t lose one for England.

Where do you stand? Perfect man for the job, or perfect fall guy?


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