The Winner and Losers of Roy Hodgson’s England Apoointment

The Winners:

 

Roy Hodgson (obviously…)

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Though Hodgson was always viewed as a creditable dark horse in the race to land English football’s top job, it is more than safe to say that most people either thought Harry Redknapp was the right man for the job or that he was going to be the one chosen by the FA to take England forward.

 

Sadly for Hodgson, who as I mention was always a worthy candidate, there probably will always be a sense of lingering doubt amongst the England fan community given most people’s preference was Redknapp and that the FA seemingly didn’t see fit to formally approach the Spurs boss. As a result of the FA’s recruitment process and what we publicly know of it, it would be absolutely no surprise to hear fans moaning about Hodgson’s appointment and bemoaning Redknapp’s omission if things go a little pear-shaped at any point in Roy’s tenure.

 

My personal view is that Hodgson is a good manager with a solid track record. This isn’t exactly a gleaming review I know, but there are certainly a few question marks over his lack of success in a couple of his bigger roles which take away a little from the wealth of both club and international managerial experience he has accrued and the success he has enjoyed most notably in his time in Sweden and more recently with Fulham and West Brom.

 

There is certainly fuel in the argument against Hodgson’s record at the bigger clubs on his CV but it would be hard to argue against his knowledge and experience of the game. I would have preferred a more dynamic and exciting choice such as Mourinho or Pardew if the FA weren’t gunning for Harry but I can see why they have opted for Hodgson and I wish him all the best.

 

Everyone needs to cut him some slack and give him a decent crack at the job, it isn’t his fault the FA have chosen him so the players and fans alike just need to let him do the job he has always dreamed of doing and hopefully he will be a success.

 

Rio Ferdinand

 

Roy Hodgson is a very wise manager and has been around the block way too many times for him to not grasp the importance of experience and Rio is a player with a wealth of it.

 

He may not have featured in the side for quite some time due to form, fitness and perhaps more recently because of personal problems with a certain Chelsea and England centre-half but towards the back end of this season he has played a lot of football and appears to have come through it relatively unscathed whilst having produced some very decent performances.

 

For me, Ferdinand is a must for England’s Euros squad if his fitness stays in-tact up until the end of the domestic season and Hodgson’s first press conference a the national team manager suggested that he believes so too and that he must act in order to ascertain whether he and Terry can put aside any personal qualms they might have about playing with one another. Both men would make my England starting line-up still and I think Mr.Hodgson is on the same wavelength as me on this. If Rio is willing to be paired with JT then he will go, I’m not totally sure this would have been the case if other potential candidates for the job were appointed.

 

Bobby Zamora

 

He may be embroiled in a relegation dogfight with his new club QPR and he may be suffering a bit of a lean season in front of goal but Zamora, who Fabio Capello says only missed out on the World Cup squad in 2010 due to injury, may come into the selection reckoning now his former boss is in charge of assembling England’s squad.

 

England are looking bereft of out-and-out strikers in the absence of Rooney for their opening two games at the Euros and the potential absence of Darren Bent due to injury so there are definitely at least a couple of places up for grabs in that department.

 

Zamora is one of only a few options to fill such a void if Bent doesn’t make the plane and his record in Fulham’s outstanding Europa League campaign under Hodgson’s guidance a couple of years ago would certainly hold him in good stead. I don’t think many other managerial candidates for the England job would have given Zamora a second look but Roy certainly will and I would perhaps go as far as to say he has a good shout of bagging himself a place.

 

Ben Foster

 

Though there have been some reports to the contrary, Roy Hodgson’s appointment could well convince Ben Foster to change his mind and come out of international retirement at least for the forthcoming European Championships.

 

Foster is probably the second best English goalkeeper going at the moment and if Joe Hart were to suffer an injury then it is vital that England have the next best man available to step into the breach.

 

If anybody has a chance of getting him to come back then it is almost certainly Hodgson who has been his manager at West Brom this year and who has consistently picked Foster and praised his contributions between the sticks. I would be very surprised if Roy hasn’t already or isn’t planning on talking to Foster about a return to the international game.

 

 

The Losers:

 

Harry Redknapp (obviously…)

 

There is very little to say that hasn’t already been said about Harry missing out on the job so I’ll keep it brief.

 

I think Redknapp could have been a terrific manager for England but now he will never get the chance and he knows it. In typical Harry fashion he has taken the news in good grace and congratulated Hodgson on getting the job and wished him well in his future endeavours with the national side.

 

If you look at England’s two most successful managers of the modern-ish era (Bobby Robson and Terry Venables) and the way they handled the job and the players that came with it you would have to credit them for their fantastic people-skills and man-management. They were/are massive characters with a very honest and likeable persona and it would be more than fair to say that Harry Redknapp seems to be a man after their own hearts in this respect. His strengths might not lie in financial management or tactical plotting but it is arguable that the England job requires a more personal approach than such methodology. I am sure that Redknapp would have brought back some memories of the Venables era and that he could have had just as positive an effect on the squad as El Tel but now we’ll never know.

 

Paul Scholes and England

 

If Harry Redknapp had been given the job then I am near-certain that he would have approached Paul Scholes about returning for one last month of international football. I also, happen to think that Harry is one of a very small minority of people who could have worked their charm on Scholes and lured him back into the fold.

 

As it is though, Hodgson is a little more straight-laced than Harry (make that a lot…) and as such I can’t see him pleading with a 37 year old to come back and save his country and even if he does then I don’t think he will have the pulling power necessary to tempt United’s flame-haired playmaker into a return.

 

If Scholes doesn’t come back I can’t see England winning the Euros. With him in tow they are dark horses given their relative lack of international success which could see them go under the radar but without him I think they are big outsiders. If you are going to compete with the likes of Spain and Germany then possession and pass success percentages become utterly vital. I don’t think there is a single player in Britain who can still mix it with Scholes in this department when playing at the highest level and I don’t think there are many people out there who would disagree with me.

 

I’m not suggesting that he is a miracle cure. We could also bomb in the Euros even if he does get persuaded to join up with the squad but I think his inclusion would greatly enhance our prospects.

 

Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Grant Holt and any other striker hoping to make the cut

 

As a direct result of Bobby Zamora’s likely rise up the pecking order in the wake of Roy’s appointment, I think that many other hopefuls in the striking department may have just dropped down the list of potential squad-members.

 

Each of the above have a decent argument in their favour and it will be interesting to see if Hodgson is tempted by the prospect of linking back up with his former Fulham star or whether he favours another option.

 

Spurs’ potential squad-members (Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Ledley King, Michael Dawson…)

 

With Harry Redknapp being the overwhelming favourite to land the job before the announcement that the FA had opened talks with Hodgson, all of Spurs’ England hopefuls will have been buoyed by the news that their club manager could take the England job as it would probably have raised their chances of making the Euros.

 

However, now Roy is in charge and not Harry it is far from clear as to whether any of these players will be a part of the new manager’s plans. The only player mentioned from Spurs’ long line of England hopefuls who is almost guaranteed of a place in the England squad is Kyle Walker and one would think even his hopes have been dealt a blow in that Redknapp would very possibly have given him a starting berth. Hodgson may also really rate Walker and his Spurs team-mates but this appointment makes things a little less clear for now at least.

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‘If I were Harry Redknapp, I wouldn’t take the England job’

If I were Harry Redknapp I wouldn’t take the England job.

Harry probably is the right man, but he has such a good thing going with Spurs...

I know this is controversial and I know this easy to say from my position of being an armchair fan and not the man who has always been touted as a ‘players-manager’ who has the skills necessary to lead the national side, but, from my objective position I honestly think that Harry should stick with Spurs. He is enormously popular with the Spurs fans and the British footballing community as a whole, he has a chairman who has backed him throughout his stay of power and he has created a team capable of challenging for serious silverware without the spending power of a team like Manchester City. In Spurs he has found his ideal fit and though the lure of the national team must be enormous for a proud Anglofile and football man I think he could be on the verge of something pretty special at Tottenham.

In his time as Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has transformed the club. He took the job with the club right at the bottom-end of the Premier League and with the strong support of his chairman he has returned Tottenham to the glamorous heights of the English top-flight, a far cry from the situation he inherited.

In the years leading up to Harry’s appointment as boss, the likes of Martin Jol had flirted with Champions League qualification and the re-establishment of Tottenham as one of English football’s major forces but, ultimately, he fell short of taking the club to the crest of the wave. Redknapp though, has taken Tottenham all the way to the Champions League and not only did he take them there but he inspired a refreshing, open and attacking Spurs side to go all the way to the last eight in their first ever attempt at the competition.

If Harry were to leave for the national job then this would be his legacy. He would leave behind him some enormously fond memories and though he may not quite have taken Tottenham right the way to the top, he has undoubtedly given them an almighty push in the right direction. He would depart the club on the very best of terms and would leave his successor in the role with some outstanding tools in place to work with. Without the mentorship of Harry Redknapp would we, for example, think so highly of players such as Gareth Bale and Luka Modric? Sure, they are extraordinary talents that would struggle not to blossom anywhere and under anyone’s guidance but could anyone have handled such precocious talents with the care and enthusiasm of Mr. Redknapp? I think not.

It is this potential legacy of Redknapp at Tottenham that would make it such a shame if he were to go. He has lifted the club off it’s knees and to the verge of a second Champions League qualification and an outside shot at a title challenge. The turnaround has been enormous in his reign of power at the club, and if their success is to continue then they would be forever indebted to his services.

Sadly though for Spurs fans, the writing does appear to be on the wall. In one extraordinary day Harry Redknapp has gone from facing up to a potential prison sentence for alleged tax evasion, to being fully cleared of any charges against his name and to being the undoubted front-runner for the job that would forever consign his reputation as merely a “wheeler-dealer” to the history books. To be offered the national job when in his sixties would mean the world to Redknapp given his lifelong passion for the game and it would provide such an affirmation of his success and public appreciation that I can’t see him turning it down.

I can, however, see him approaching his expected talks with the FA with enormous caution and with a determination to carry out negotiations on his own terms. By this, I mean that I would expect him to demand great authority and freedom as well as the luxury of being able to remain in charge of Spurs at least until the end of the season.

Harry has done too much good work over the past few years at Spurs to just leave them at the drop of the hat and just a month ago things seemed as though they would come together naturally after the season and after the Euros. Fabio Capello was set to guide England through the tournament and to leave at the end of his contract and Harry Redknapp was well set up to part with his beloved Tottenham side having secured Champions League qualification and potentially having landed some silverware. An enormous amount of water has of course passed under the bridge since then and in yesterday’s dramatic twists and turns of events a greater sense of urgency has been forced upon the situation.

I think the FA will ask Harry to take the job with immediate effect on an England-only basis but if Harry wants to stay with Spurs until May before taking the post on this basis then I think he is well positioned from a bargaining point of view to do so. The FA are in desperate need of a popular English manager and Redknapp is the very epitome of this. The FA will want Harry and though I don’t think he should, I am pretty certain that he would take the job.

Best title race ever? Or is it just the worst quality Premier League season of all time?

A new year is upon us and 2011 is set to stage one of the most open title races in the history of the Premier League. Is this as good for English football as it is for the neutral supporter? Interesting certainly, but good for the game?

Will Rooney steer United to the title?

As we enter the new year everybody’s least favourite team Manchester United top the table and with games in hand up their sleeve. Miraculously, given what a turbulent season we have seen so far, United have gone unbeaten up to this point only very rarely impressing along the way. It has been indifferent on the performance side of things from Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops bar a few notable exceptions including the 7-1 demolition of Blackburn Rovers and the 3-2 victory over arch-rivals Liverpool. Even the victory over Liverpool saw them negligently surrender a two goal advantage before Dimitar Berbatov salvaged three points with a piece of magic that he and pretty much only he could muster. Never before could a team boast such a consistently below-par level of performance whilst cruising to a position comfortably situated at the summit of the league come January. If this had been any other league season it is near certain that Manchester United’s form would of seen them soundly beaten five or six times come this stage, not this one however. The Red Devils have demonstrated defensive frailty, an ever-changing and unsettled midfield and up-front their star man Rooney has endured his much reported ‘annus horribilis’, all this yet they are dominating the race for the title. Surely this is reflective of a drop in standards?

What of United’s loosely termed ‘challengers’. Well.. most intriguing of the bunch must be their neighbours Manchester City. Currently City are level on points with United having played two more games much owing to the unstoppable form of their talismanic skipper and ex-United star Carlos Tevez. It is his form that has driven his otherwise under-performing side into second place in the league and their best half-way points tally in the Premier League. Tevez is undoubtedly world class and the owners of the club certainly possess the financial clout that could see big-money arrivals this month. However, it seems unlikely that a team with one absolute superstar and an unsettled squad otherwise would be capable of seeing off Ferguson’s men. It could happen but it seems a little out of City’s reach for now.

Next are the usual suspects Arsenal and Chelsea. The latter’s year has gone from the ecstasy of a domestic league and cup double and early season domination into absolute ruins over the last couple of months. The sudden loss of form from such a talented squad is utterly staggering and it is clear that all is not well within their camp. The usually unflappable force that is manager Carlo Ancellotti seems distant and agitated, star man Didier Drogba can’t buy a goal and is desperately lacking any sort of form or fitness and the press are swarming around the apparent unrest at the Bridge. The recent slide sees them six points a drift of the leaders having already played one more game. It would take another twist of biblical proportion to reignite any challenge from the Blues when it comes to the business end.

Arsenal on the other hand are brimming as ever with youthful exuberance and talent. The football being played by Arsene Wenger’s outfit has as ever been delectable. Such beauty is there to behold but Wenger  must again be ruing his side’s lack of substance when confronted with an organised and physical opponent. Losses to Newcastle and Manchester United horribly exposed Arsenal’s lack of strength and experience, yet again, Wenger protests his team’s increasing nous. The recent victory over Chelsea has sparked an air of belief within the camp that has been vacant for a few years now, but two points adrift with a game more played than United could it be another year void of silverware for the Gunners?

The last real contenders are Tottenham. Led by the signing of the summer Rafael Van Der Vaart and the wizardry of young Gareth Bale Spurs have become outsiders to win the league. It will surely take a couple more transfer coups this month from ‘wheeler’dealer ‘Arry’ Redknapp to seriously pose a threat but stranger things have happened already this season!

So, for now Sir Alex can sit tight with a smile on his battle-hardened face as United continue to stumble towards yet another title. It is advisable though that he does keep a watchful eye on the many challengers in case a minor miracle occurs and one of them actually hits form. The neutral fan will be salivating over the battle ahead, however, it is undeniable that standards have dropped in our beloved league. This off the back of a more than disappointing showing in the World Cup and World Cup bid for 2018 should be causing concern amongst fans and must surely worry the powers-that-be at the FA headquarters. A new year is here lets hope the English game fights back.

Premier League Predictions: 1.Manchester United, 2. Chelsea, 3.Manchester City, 4.Arsenal, 5. Tottenham… 18.Wigan, 19.West Brom, 20. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Players of the season so far: Carlos Tevez, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Darren Fletcher, Dimitar Berbatov, Charlie Adam, Samir Nasri, Luis Nani, Kevin Davies, Johan Elmander, Darren Bent

Young Players of the season so far: Gareth Bale, Andy Carroll, Seamus Coleman, Danny Wellbeck, Javier Hernandez, Rafael, Joe Hart, Adam Johnson

Managers of the year: Ian Holloway, Harry Redknapp, Chris Hughton, Owen Coyle

Can Chelsea fightback?