The name Roy Hodgson conjures up many thoughts in the average football fan, ‘reliable’ ‘mid-table manager’ ‘nice guy’ ‘face scratcher’ are but some of them.
Not many think of the current West Bromwich Albion boss as cut out to manage the national team, after all he’s not won any major trophies, he’s struggled at so-called ‘big clubs’ and hasn’t really done anything as an international manager has he?
Well actually one could argue with all of those points, yes he’s not won any major trophies but he’s twice taken teams to the final of a European competition Fulham to the Europa of course and Internazionale to the UEFA Cup final in 1997, where they were beaten on penalties. Hardly a roaring success but not a total failure, especially considering the fact he also guided the team to 3rd place in Serie A that season. His time at the San Siro couldn’t have been that much a failure as he was invited back for a brief stint as caretaker manager in 1999. Let’s not forget that Hodgson also worked with constant pressure and speculation regarding his job…..a taste of things to come perhaps.
It’s Hodgson’s record at Liverpool that has swayed most fans into thinking he’d be out of his depth managing England. Well lets analyse Hogson’s time at Anfield a little closer shall we, first of all his net spend was actually in the minus column -meaning he received more for transfers than he spent. Compare that to Rafa Bentez who had a net spending of around £81 million and current manager Kenny Daglish who has a net spend of £48 million in his second spell at the club and you’ll see that Hodgson was hardly ‘backed by the board.’
Hodgson joined something of a circus at Anfield, with the clubs owners hated by all and obviously set on trying to make as much money out of the club as possible, previous boss Rafa Benitez hardly helped matters, leaving the new manager with a squad in dire need of reinforcing and instigating the signing of the useless Milan Jovanovic before he left. Hodgson then lost one of his few truly world-class players when Javier Mascherano moved to Barcelona, while the signing of Joe Cole was universally seen as a shrewd move. Many United fans at the time actually suggested we should have gone in for the former West Ham midfielder – thank all that is holy Sir Alex knew best.
Then there was the Kenny Daglish shadow constantly looming over him, as the Liverpool legend had made it clear he wanted the job Hodgson had been given.
Players that the new manager should have been able to rely on were either injured for crucial games- Steven Gerrard, suffering from a lack of form – Fernando Torres- or in the case of Pepe Reina having a rare moment of ineptitude that cost Hodgson what would have been a vital early win over Arsenal- who knows how that could have affected confidence and belief. Don’t get me wrong Hodgson made fundamental errors- signing Paul Konchesky for one but he was far from the disaster he was labelled. Considering the squad he had to work with, the lack of funds and the pressure of fans wanting ‘King Kenny’ almost from the off-set, is it any wonder he wasn’t a success?
When it comes to international management, in 1994 Hodgson took the Swiss to their first World Cup since 1966, even managing to get them to the second round- not an acheivement? Well considering they took four points off eventual finalists Italy in qualifying for the tournament, it wasn’t too shabby. Let’s not forget even qualification was beyond England.
The people’s choice ‘Arry Redknapp has zero international management experience, has won one major trophy which came at the cost of almost ending the club that won it, and has only managed one of the so-called ‘big clubs’- admittedly doing a sterling job but was also fortunate to inherit some fantastic players.
Redknapp’s man-management has been praised for getting the best out of players but for me it often seems somewhat bizarre. Blaming Luka Modric after the 5-1 home defeat to Manchester City “his head wasn’t right” and the whole Darren Bent missed sitter debacle were just unnecessary and counter-productive. Redknapp has been hit and miss in the transfer market having bought and sold Chimbonda, Crouch, Palacios, Robbie Keane which shows he can get it wrong when it comes to signings. Yes he bought Rafael Van Der Vaart, Parker and Jermaine Defoe but he inherited a lot of his best players- Bale, Dawson, Modric and King – not to be held against him but just a point when it comes to the praise he receives.
Compare the situation between Hodgson and Redknapp at Liverpool and Spurs resepctively and you’ll see the difference – one inherited the nucleus of a great side and was fully backed in the transfer window, the other inherited Steven Gerrard and Pepe Reina and wasn’t backed at all.
Experience wise Hodgson has managed all over the world, and is generally quite media-savvy, Redknapp is rent-a-quote who if given the England manager’s job will probably end up parked outside Lancaster Gate telling anyone who’ll listen his tactics for the upcoming tournament via the comfort of his car seat.
When it comes to tactics I’d actually argue Hodgson is slightly more adept at understanding a teams weaknesses and adapting his team to suit them. Redknapp seems less concerned with the tactical side of the game and more interested in merely picking a team full of gifted players who more often than not can beat inferior opposition.
The media and much of ther public may want Redknapp who has enjoyed great success at Spurs, but for the England job, a venerable, respected, media savvy player friendly tactician may be the perfect choice.
Have I gone in off the deep end, or is there an oasis of sanity in my desert of nonsense? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below: