A lot of England fans need to wake up – Mourinho is never going to manage England.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson as the new England national team manager has been met by both the English media and public with general disdain. The journalists are angered by the fact that their favourite media darling, Harry Redknapp didn’t get it, and fans – at least the more delusional ones – think Hodgson isn’t glamorous enough, instead preferring to go for someone like Jose Mourinho.
The general consensus is Hodgson can’t deal with players at ‘the highest level’, despite managing such world-renowned clubs such as Internazionale and Liverpool. Redknapp on the other hand has managed the likes of Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton and most recently Tottenham. He has only won one competition, the 2008 FA Cup (against Championship opposition) whilst in his second stint with Pompey. Hodgson has seven leagues titles alone in Sweden.
But Harry has done wonders with Pompey and Spurs! Roy failed miserably with Liverpool and Inter! Wait, let’s just calm down and look at the facts. Redknapp is one of the most hated men in one city on the South Coast, having ditched Pompey for Southampton, proceeding to relegate them, and then jump ship back to fierce rivals Pompey. There is not a Southampton fan in the world that wanted to see the man take the reigns at England, despite Paul Merson’s claim that he was every England fan’s choice for the national team job.
Roy’s time at both Inter and Liverpool can hardly be described as fantastic, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Even with ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish at the helm – Liverpool have spectacularly underachieved, suggesting the problem was not Hodgson, rather the players themselves. In Italy, he was at Inter at a time with the club in crisis, going through numerous managers, none of whom could simply match the demands of the board with the quality of players.
People will point to Redknapp’s remarkable Champions League run with Tottenham in the 2010/2011 season, beating both Milan clubs before getting thumped against Real Madrid. Hodgson is not with out his great wins; he beat Inter with his unfancied Malmö side. He pulled off a minor miracle to keep Fulham in the Premier League in the 07/08 season, and has also stopped West Brom’s constant battles against relegation, turning them into a solid mid-table side capable of competing in the big games – as proved by a 1-0 win at Anfield just a few weeks ago. Of course, his run to the Europa League final is his greatest achievement to date, but is one that has been conveniently forgotten following his appointment. With all three clubs Hodgson has been on a miniscule budget compared to the riches Redknapp has enjoyed at Spurs.
Obviously the transfer market does not exist at international level, so Redknapp would be immediately bereft of his forte – despite his claims of not being a ‘wheeler-dealer’. Hodgson is arguably more tactically adept; Redknapp showed great naivety in their Champions League tie against Real Madrid, and often he shows the mentality of ‘we’ll just score one more than you do’. Clearly, at international level and especially with an uninspiring England side at present you’d have to say this type of philosophy is not the way forward. Hodgson generally plays a more solid, patient game – perhaps not as easy on the eye, but effective when used with players who are perhaps not the most technically gifted.
People seem unimpressed with Hodgson’s appointment because he isn’t a ‘sexy name’ – ie he is not a Champions League winner (or even a major European league winner), and due to his stint at Liverpool is rather unfairly seen as being unable to control the big egos of star players, despite Liverpool’s biggest icon also failing to get them best out of them. A lot of England fans need to wake up – Mourinho is never going to manage England. As Gary Lineker said yesterday, the job is a poisoned chalice; huge media pressure, average pool of players, scandal at every major tournament - the list goes on. After seeing the great Fabio Capello’s previously impeccable managerial record stained by the failure of England, no sane coach in their right mind would go for the England job.
Besides, sexy and glamorous names do not always equal success. Joachim Löw is enjoying one of the most successful period in Germany’s recent history after being promoted from assistant manager following Jürgen Klinsmann’s departure. Löw was hardly the most well-known of managers – he had a moderately successful time with Stuttgart, followed by disastrous periods in Turkey with Fenerbahce and Adanaspor. Still, the DFB showed faith in him, and despite some initial reservations about his heavy focus on youth, the German national team is once again one of the most feared sides in the world.
The secret is a lack of pressure, confidence from the board, and the excellent mixture of youth and experience. England needs to totally restructure it’s grassroots football (but that’s an article for another day), and it needs to stop being so reluctant to bring youth through. Thomas Muller, World Cup 2010 Golden Ball winner, had only two international caps at the start of the tournament. Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Lewis Holtby and Macro Reus have all since made their debuts under Löw, and have hugely impressed, not looking out of their depth at all. Germany’s young stars are seen by many as the most exciting prospects in international football right now, despite almost all of them playing in the Bundesliga - a perceived ‘weaker league’ than the English Premier League. England needs to take the plunge and ditch underperformers such as Stewart Downing and Gareth Barry and bring in the likes of Alex Chamberlain, Jonjo Shelvey and Josh McEachran. If any senior players were to kick up a fuss about being dropped, the manager would need to nip it in the bud, much like Löw did with the temperamental Michael Ballack.
Harry seems to be extremely close with a lot of senior England players (Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry), but do we really want this bunch of pretenders failing again in the big tournaments again, or do we want a new age? Hodgson is the new England manager, and we as fans should now back him to try and bring success, rather than focus on what could have been.