Why Roy Hodgson - not Redknapp - is the right man for England

Apr 30, 2012
Neil Clark

Hodgson can appeal to fans who want a passionate Englishman and those who demand a cerebral continental

Mark Thompson

A FEW Sundays ago my wife and I and other family members went out for the afternoon to the picturesque Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water. In the car park I saw a man, elegantly dressed, studiously reading the information board about the area. I recognised the man, but other passer-bys didn't. It was Roy Hodgson, a Premier League manager, who instead of spending that Sunday afternoon watching the football on Sky, had decided to do what we had done, and go to visit a place of interest. How many other Premier League managers - caught up in the all-consuming world of top-flight football - would have done likewise?

Hodgson has a hinterland. He reads widely and is a big fan of American literature. He likes art - in a newspaper interview he once compared his career to a painting by Kandinsky - and he speaks several languages. He enjoys fine wines. The fact that Hodgson has an interest in so many things outside of football is, I believe, a big reason for his success. Far from detracting from his management, it makes him do his job better as it gives him a sense of perspective and has stopped him from becoming stale. The afternoon out exploring Bourton-on-the-Water certainly didn't appear to do Hodgson much harm; since then his team, West Bromwich Albion, have won three times, including a 1-0 win at Liverpool.
That day in March wasn't the first time my path had crossed with Hodgson's. I was living and working in Switzerland when he was the manager of the national team in the 1990s. He did a fantastic job, steering the Swiss to the finals of the 1994 World Cup - their first major tournament since the 1960s - and getting them through to the knock-out stages. It was the first time Hodgson had managed a national side and his success with Switzerland bodes well for his England prospects, should his appointment be confirmed.
As does the splendid work he did with Fulham. Having saved the west London club from near-certain relegation in the 2007/8 season, he then secured their highest ever league position (seventh) one year later and took them into Europe. In 2010 Fulham reached their first ever European final and their progression - which included a memorable 5-4 aggregate win over Juventus in the last 16, showed that when it comes to getting it right against European opponents, Hodgson has few peers.
Critics of Hodgson will no doubt argue that having such a contemplative and intellectual man as manager of England won't excite the fans and that England would be better off with 'the people's choice' the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, who has been the red-hot favourite to succeed Fabio Capello. In an article in today's Daily Mail entitled 'Hodgson's record at West Brom reads P52 W20 L20... Is this a job for Mr Average?', Martin Samuel describes Hodgson as "a man who is lauded for winning as many matches as he has lost with West Bromwich Albion".

He continues: "Poor old Harry Redknapp. In the end, he just wasn't ordinary enough for the Football Association and England. Ordinary would have fitted the schedule. Mediocre could have slotted right in."

It's unfair criticism, as there's nothing remotely mediocre - or ordinary - about Hodgson. His team may occupy a lower league position than Tottenham, but that's largely to do with the club's financial resources. It's worth noting that in the period 2006-11 Spurs spent over four times more on new players than West Brom. As for Hodgson not exciting the fans, the thing that will do just that is if England start to win important international matches. Redknapp is undoubtedly a good Premier League manager and can always be relied upon to give the press good copy, but Hodgson has far more experience of European football (he has managed in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Italy as well as in Switzerland), and his style of play and the tactics he employs are ideally suited to get results against European teams.

"Our style of football works really well for us in Europe, playing against European opposition, because of the way we want to play football, the way we close down our opposition, retain possession," Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer explained in 2010.

Hodgson provides the perfect compromise between those who believe that English people make the best managers of the national side because they have more passion and those who say continental managers are better because they are more cerebral and more tactically astute. The former PE teacher from south London, who has spent a large part of his career working in Europe, is the Englishman who though patriotic, is actually more continental than he is English. So we get the best of both worlds.
If the FA does appoint Hodgson we're going to get an intelligent, thoughtful man, who can motivate his players to perform to their optimum and also someone who realises that while football is very important, there are also other things in life too. The kind of detachment that makes a top flight manager go out for an afternoon trip to a Cotswolds beauty spot on a Sunday during the football season is exactly what we want from the manager of England.
That said, if Hodgson is successful and leads England to European and World Cup glory, his chances of escaping to the Cotswolds largely unrecognised by the general public, will be greatly reduced.

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why dont we jus see if gazza wants it? or John Barnes? Surely neither 'ARRY or Hodgson are good enough! I dont know the right man for the job but no english man has proved himself over the years. Hodgeson is a good manager n 'ARRY is weeeelllllll overrated. Joe Royal has won a FA cup too lets give it to him!!!!!!!!

He did not motivate the players at Liverpool, he will be the same in this position out of his depth.

 Bourton-on-the-Water is beautiful in a naff soap opera kind of way. visiting it doesn't make one an intellectual.Bring back Walter Winterbottom.

Hodgson has never worked successfully or been able to motivate big names players. He lacks the people skill Harry has hence why he will not be successful. WHat was already going to be a difficult summer tournament is not going to be a horror show. Mike Bassett anyone?

I don't suppose the England NT is as significant a player in world football as Liverpool FC.  Hodgson wasn't able to manage an EPL club with aspirations to win the league title.  How is he supposed to manage a club with aspirations at winning a Continental title.  This is madness.

Hodgson inherited the players that he had while at liverpool and for the main part there are far too many egos within the four walls of the dressing rooms at both anfield and wembley, for hodgson to succeed he must drop the so called superstars who under perform and introduce players whom are in form at the time...something that no England manager ahs done for a very very long time

Lest we forget, although Hodgson never scored during his time as an 18 year old on the books at Crystal Palace in the 1960s, this was hardly his fault because he never actually made any appearances. However, he did go on to forge a successful playing career at such household names as Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend & Northfleet, Maidstone United, Ashford Town, Berea Park and Carshalton Athletic the last of which recently made its mark recently by winning League Division 1 and earning promotion to the Championship, oh no, sorry that was Charlton Athletic.

Brian Clough never lasted at leeds,but look at his record

Brilliant article sums up exactly why Hodgson is right man for England job. I don't think we will make an impression at Euro's but 2014 world cup he will show how good a manager he is. 

Are you kidding me??!!

The fact is, we won't know if Roy Hodgson will be a success as England manager until some time in the future. We've had managers before who we thought would bring success but didn't - success is down to the players too, of course. However, I will agree with others that this is an excellent article by Neil Clark, which makes a compelling case for Hodgson. If this is an example of The Week articles, I reckon I'll start buying a few copies!!

What a rubbish choice! I can't believe the inept attitude of the FA, don't the fans deserve better! You looking back at the early 1990 for his glory days! What has he done recently at an international level?? Managed the UAE.....

Hodgson appointment makes absolute sense... The average fan has expectations beyond reality. It needs patience and some intelligent thinking to build for the future. Harry Redknapp may bring short term excitement and perhaps a result or two but for the long term forget it.

what has any england manger done at international level at least he been there done that!!

Great article. I just the media actually gives him a chance to manage even though he's committed the great crime of not being Harry Redknapp.

Does the ordinary fan have brains? I'm not so sure!
Maybe Roy Hodgson is not the best manager in the world. But i am not convinced that Harry Redknapp is any better. He certainly does not have the broad experience of Hodgson's, he has not been in so many countries for instance.
In any case, if you want a manager winning the championship in every league, you would have to appoint José Mourinho, no other!

Hodgson as england manager, hummm.....not sure about immediate success but would not argue that he might deliver after years. But the question is......can the fans wait that long before we see success? I do not think so.
Hodgson is a good coach but why does he accept every appointment, does he love money? That I do not know. He seems to be jumping on every appointment, that was how he rushed into taking Liverpool job instead of staying at Fulham to convince everybody that he is one of the top managers. If he fails it will affect his profile.

Isnt part of the reason Hodgson got the job to do with the fact that Redknapp earns much more at Spurs and would demand a much bigger wage than Hodgson at the moment. I do think Hodgson is the better man for the job anyway though, and Im a Liverpool fan. He didnt inherit enough to bring in good players at Liverpool but the rest of his resume is outstanding!