Hodgson for England. With our blessing.
HAD a brief snooze. Saw Torres score a hat-trick. Chelsea’s Torres. Was I still asleep? Went out. The car said it was three degrees and flashed its warning about ice. There were bits of tree all over the road, at least in the bits of road that weren’t under water, and it’s May in a couple of days. Maybe I was still asleep.
No, a face-stinging walk in that horizontal freezing cold rain would wake anyone up. Water looked choppy, sky was dark, like it was the middle of winter. Everything’s strange. Back home, groggy again, phone out of earshot, computer out of reach, something boring on the telly and none of it news. No idea how Spurs went on, but otherwise not expecting much to have happened in the world of football. Eventually, the computer goes on, the email gets checked. And still everything’s strange.
Slap bang in the middle of an email that started off so normally is this:
“Hodgson for England”
What? Haven’t we done that already? He had a predictable draw yesterday didn’t he?
“Madness from the FA?”
Come on, it’s the wrong end of April for that kind of joke.
Wait; what? They’ve not. Have they?
I checked. “England have been granted permission to talk to Roy Hodgson.”
They had. They really had.
They’d taken sarcastic calls from Liverpool fans, “Hodgson for England”, as if they were serious words of advice. Well, ok, they’ve not listened to Liverpool fans because listening to Liverpool fans isn’t something The FA particularly like to do. “That bit of noise up there is off again,” they probably say, closing the windows of that expensive pad they had built where Wembley used to be.
Not that we want them to listen to us on England matters, because England doesn’t really matter to us. It only matters to us when they do something that matters to our club. We don’t want them to break our players, as we keep telling them, but they break them anyway. They’ve never really known how to look after our players though.
They use our players for meaningless friendlies when their club (our club) would have thought twice about using them for a match that actually mattered. They use them out of position and make good players look like ordinary players. Their fans, when they’re borrowing our players (like, for example, when one of the best wingers ever to be eligible to play for them is turning out in their shirt), boo those players.
They boo their own players.
England – the FA, the parts of the media that still think it’s 1966 and the fans that still think it’s 1944 – is something we struggle to relate to. But to be fair, the feeling is probably mutual.
Their cheerleaders still believe Roy Hodgson was good enough for Liverpool and that he was just a victim of impatient fans. The same Liverpool who had gone through just four managers in the twenty years prior to his appointment.
Some of them will probably be a little worried now, deep down, but probably not too worried. England’s problems, after all, are mainly down to having had that foreigner in charge. Much the same as they said it was the problem at Anfield when Liverpool were underachieving with second in the league and only getting to the final of the Champions League. No need to question Roy’s CV because the only word that matters is “English”.
And he’s media friendly. As long as you aren’t a member of the press from Scandinavia. Or north of Croydon. Or mention formations.
Roy is ideal at a club where draws will do and entertainment is an afterthought. That’s probably enough to keep him at Club Wembley for a long time. England’s expectations have been way too high for way too long – and there’s few better than Roy for removing, never mind lowering, expectations.
One of the enduring images of Steve McLaren’s ill-fated reign as England manager is that of him with that umbrella in the tipping down rain as England failed to qualify for the Euros. One strong memory of Roy (putting the face rub to one side) also involved heavy rain and an embarrassing hope-destroying defeat. Roy didn’t bother with a brolly and was soaked to the skin watching his side fail to overcome the “formidable challenge” (his words) of Northampton from Division Four (in old money) in the league cup.
That on its own could have been forgiven but there was always more. When it wasn’t going bad on the field he was making it bad in the press room. He became a parody of himself in the end.
Those who know why Roy was wrong for Liverpool know why Roy will struggle to be what England expects their manager to be.
Those who don’t, well they’re welcome to him.