He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. This is my view on the England manager. No, not Roy Hodgson in particular, but any England boss, from any era of English football, no matter how well or how poorly the current side is performing.
On the eve of a clash with our old enemy and with the starting XI already announced, the views of the nation are still completely divided over who should be pulling on the white jersey.
This is not so much to question as to how delusional a manager can be in continuing to pick James Milner; but more a case of finding out if now is the time to throw caution to the wind do something that no England boss has ever done. Defy the media, ignore the critics, go against the grain and pick players on form rather than on reputation.
The comprehensive home defeat to a mediocre Chile side unlocked Pandora’s box.
Starting with Fraser Forster, Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines and Jack Wilshere was a breath of fresh air – young players being given a shot. Yet come the 90 minute mark, this proved to be one step too far and had the vultures circling at the final whistle.
Three uncapped players, plus three players who despite playing well for the clubs, still have a lot to prove on the international stage, was seen as too much of a risk. It was too optimistic to think these professional footballers would be able to perform in front of an expectant Wembley crowd, against some South American flair.
Had Hodgson opted for Joe Hart, Jermaine Defoe, Steven Gerrard, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Cole and Gareth Barry – there would still be sharks in the water, no matter if the match had finished in a 3-0 win or a 2-0 defeat.
A 3-0 win with the old guard would have seen headlines asking that in such a meaningless game, why didn’t the boss try some new talent?
A 2-0 defeat with the old guard would have seen headlines saying these players are past it; Dads Army – and that the younger generation now need to step up.
It is no myth that the English media need to create headlines to sell newspapers and do so through negative press; and it is no secret that England fans are fickle creatures, yet what was needed is exactly what was served up by Alexis Sanchez and co. – a plate of realism with a side dish of embarrassment.
Qualifying for a World Cup without losing a match is a great achievement – but there will be a significant rise in quality, come next summer in Rio. It is one thing beating Montenegro and Ukraine who are tough opponents on their own turf – but would Germany, Brazil or Spain sweat over these opponents the way England were made to? I am thinking, no.
Where does Roy go from here?
According to Harry Redknapp, England have been bless with four world class full backs. Yes, he said four.
Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines down the left and Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker down the right.
Excuse me while I die a little on the inside.
It is this attitude that makes life difficult for Roy; and unbearable for the fans. Cole aside, the rest are not world class. They are not even ‘class’. They are good Premier League defenders that would not get in any squad of any top international team.
As a nation we have convinced ourselves that England is a country full of exceptional English talent; and comments like this from Harry Redknapp do not help in our quest to keep a lid on things and not get carried away prior to a major tournament.
England might go on to win against Germany tonight – and this will go some way in keeping the wolves from Roy’s door, but what will it prove?
Yes, it would be lovely to beat a rival, especially one of this magnitude, but in reality, a November international friendly means bugger all.
As an England fan, it is time to wise up and not set our standards too high.
It is time to realise that reaching the quarter final of a World Cup will be a good achievement for this set of players… yet come kick off, I am sure the heart will rule over the head as it does every single time.