English Football

Hodgson’s choice – Hawthorns or Crown of Thorns?

If he looks worried now….wait a while

So Roy Hodgson is the latest name to be thrown into the ring for the England job. This should come as no surprise. Hodgson is respectable, stable, respected and experienced. On the other side of the balance sheet, he is relatively charisma-free and doesn’t have a high profile globally. But then, neither does the other candidate, Harry Redknapp – and we have been down that road.

Hodgson would be an ideal FA man. He falls into the same category of those other decent and reliable fellows who have had the job in the past – Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Graham Taylor. He is not an operator  (Venables), emotional child (Keegan) or fantasist (Hoddle). And he’s certainly got more gravitas than McLaren. In short, Hodgson is “safe hands” and is not going to make the wrong sort of headlines – until the results go against him, that is.  Perhaps Redknapp’s close proximity to Venables may have had something to do with Hodgson being cast into the favourite’s chair. Harry or Roy, they are both English, which in my mind is a prerequisite for the job. England’s flirtation with hired continental guns did not work.

Having said that, the raw materials at the England manager’s disposal are woefully weak these days. Whoever takes over has a huge task – a massive reconstruction of the domestic game is overdue and sooner or later, there has to be some limits placed on English clubs to restrict foreign influx.

Hodgson had a rough time at Liverpool. He may be too metropolitan for the famously inward-looking supporters. They crave the return of the “good old days” and Dalglish was the man to given them a flavour of that. His stay in the Boot Room – if it still exists – may come to an end soon.

The last laugh has been on Hodgson, who has performed miracles at West Bromwich Albion. This is the second unfashionable club he has transformed – although you could argue that Liverpool now fall into that category – coming after his near-spectacular success with Fulham. There may just be an element of Brian Clough in the way he operates, but he would never be as outspoken or controversial as the former king of the River Trent.

Furthermore, he has certainly coached internationally. Malmo, Inter Milan, Udinese, Finland, United Arab Emirates and Grasshoppers Zurich have all benefitted from his considered style. He’s an intelligent and articulate man, but at 64 does he want to swap West Bromwich Albion for what may be an ordeal of fire? The brief is daunting. “In a matter of weeks, Roy, mould what is a ramshackle bunch into a unit that can avoid embarrassment in Euro 2012.” Fabio Capello didn’t really fancy that task.

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