Is Roy Hodgson the right appointment? What does the National Football Centre mean for our future? How will we do at Euro 2012?

England has had a torturous recent time at national tournaments.  There was much build up and excitement before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, only to be let down once again by our hero’s.  Roy Hodgson has been given the managers post over Harry Redknapp which has divided opinion amongst England followers.  Is this the dawning of a new England or purely a conservative decision by the FA?  What can this nation expect from the national team in Poland and Ukraine?  Here is a number of things to help us predict and analyse the National team.

The Manager

 

Roy Hodgson was not the people’s choice for the national team role, with many considering Harry Redknapp the ideal man for the job.  On the face of it Redknapp is an ideal candidate.  He has been a proven motivator at big and ‘smaller’ clubs, and has produced fine football and results to match at Tottenham.  Little can be really known behind the scenes, but it is fair to say that he would be able to manage the ego’s in the dressing room effectively. 

These pros are easily quashed.  Redknapp has been able to produce great results through his ‘wheeler dealer’ antics in the transfer market, something which is not available in the national role.  This has also contributed to the attractive football Spurs play, as well as him having constant contact with the team; this also is not the case in a national role.  A style of football is not something which is easy to produce, this has to start either at grass roots or through the constant exposure that club football management gives you.

Roy Hodgson was not the obvious choice and a huge amount of credit has to go to the FA for their choice.  Hodgson has a wealth of international experience, notably turning an average Switzerland side into a competitive outfit.  He is certain to produce two things to an England team at a major tournament, competitiveness and organisation.  These two qualities are something which were certainly lacking in South Africa.  This is also a good choice for the future, with the new national football centre it is important to have a lot of influence of a ‘football person’ to guide the development of the coaching for our football future.  Redknapp is no spring chicken, but Hodgson is someone who at this stage in his career would invest this time into the centre, more so than Redknapp.  All in all a very shrewd appointment.

The Squad

England much like Portugal’s golden generation of Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes etc have failed to deliver on the national stage.  Our generation of Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand and Cole is certainly on the wane, and a re-vamp of the squad is much needed.  This ‘re-vamp’ would not be possible if we didn’t possess talented younger players, fortunately we do.  The likes of Walker, Richards, Jones, Smalling, Gibbs, Wilshere, Rodwell, Johnson, Chamberlain and Welbeck are players who suggest we have a bright future.  This is a key moment in this ‘transition’ phase, where a balance of maintaining experienced heads in the dressing room combined with new younger blood could ensure a successful future.

I am of the belief that we should build from World Cup to World Cup and therefore should use Euro 2012 to bring in some young talent while keeping some older heads to maintain a competitive team.   One thing is for sure, that even if we can’t win the Euro’s it is imperative we do not have another farce like the world cup.  Even If we have to lose to a Spain, Germany or Holland in the latter stages, as long as we remain competitive we can walk out with our heads held high and look forward to a world cup in Brazil.  This is something I believe Roy Hodgson can ensure.

We need to look to Spain as an example.  Many of us English our arrogant of our glorious premier league and the fact we invented football.  Modern football has involved and we haven’t with it until this point.  Spain put in a number of schemes to improve the quantity of young coaches in the game, resulting in a larger selection to choose from for the clubs around the country.  This has resulted in better coaching and high quality youth academies such as Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’.  This has resulted in a specific way of playing, which is represented by Barcelona and the national team.  This way of playing simplified with a false number nine so the defence has no one to mark, possession football to build pressure on the opponent and you cannot concede when you have the ball.  Lastly the harrying and hassling in the first 5 seconds after losing possession as this is when they are most likely to win it back.  Our academies do not have to play exactly the same way, but it is important to create a national identity in which the players know how to play, which doesn’t change too dramatically with every change of coach.  This national centre will help us create a football identity and promote the game and coaching at youth levels.

Euro 2012

I personally believe that this tournament can be surprisingly good for England for a number of reasons.  There is none of the usual expectation that we could actually win it after the poor world cup.  We have a manager with international experience who will certainly create a team atmosphere who will play with pride and be competitive.  The squad re-vamp previously mentioned will also create a fight for places attitude in the squad like there was under Capello. Unlike his era, Hodgson being English will possess more of an emotional connection with the squad, which will act as a catalyst for a better atmosphere and bond within the dressing room. 

No national tournament is easy, but England has a winnable group.  France I believe if given the chance could develop under Laurent Blanc into a good outfit, but we should be beating Sweden and Ukraine despite being hosts.  An opening game against the hosts is never easy with all the fanfare behind them, but luckily we will be playing them in the final game where the usual host’s nerve will be put to the test.  If we win the group we will most likely be playing Italy which is a very winnable match given their current revival after a group stage world cup elimination, and even if we come second we would be meeting a Spanish side which has not been firing on all cylinders recently and will be missing key players Puyol and Villa. Not to mention the one nil friendly victory which might just give us a mental edge. There are only two teams which I cannot see England defeating, and that is Germany and the Netherlands.

This would be the Squad and lineup I would take to the Euro’s, bearing in mind the philosophy of building from World Cup to World Cup.

Goalkeepers

Joe Hart, Paul Robinson & David Stockdale.

Defenders

John Terry, Gary Cahill, Jolean Lescott, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole & Kieren Gibbs.

Midfielders

Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard, James Milner, Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Johnson & Theo Walcott.

Forwards

Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe & Andy Carroll.

Starting XI

 

Key Points

  • Two Experience men in Cole and Terry to blood in Walker and Cahill.  Three of the Chelsea backline who are used to playing with each other, with a top class keeper behind.
  • Scott Parker is a great leader by example on the pitch, the same goes for Steven Gerrard who would both be good captains in my eyes.  However they are on the older side, so putting Milner in the lineup adds legs to midfield who can also spread the ball to the flanks.
  • If Rooney was not banned I would play him behind Welbeck (Club team mates), moving Gerrard in place of Milner, and replace Chamberlain with Milner on the right flank.
  • However he is banned, so an experienced player who will be fresh from a lack of game time at spurs in Defoe could prove dividends.
  • Young on the left flank has been great when played over Nani for United this season, when he cuts in he is hard to stop.
  • The right flank is arguably the hardest to fill, Walcott has often flattered to deceive, Johnson has been given next to no game time so will be fresh but lacking match practice.  Lennon is very injury prone and offers much the same threat as Walcott.
  • I have gone for Chamberlain, because he has looked very mature for his age in the big games that matter.  He ripped AC Milan apart in the champions league at the Emirates and also provided many problems for United in another big start.  Every game for England is a big one and he is a player with an outstanding future who can also play in the middle and is also fresh with game time under his belt.

The future I believe is bright for England with the national football centre, and although in the short term we won’t be playing with the skill of the Spanish or flair of the Brazilians.  We will have a competitive team to be proud of at the European Championships and in Roy Hodgson a man who will look to the future and produce a competitive team who will play with pride and with the three lions on their chest.