England coach Hodgson picks Mascherano for Ballon d'Or
No room for Ronaldo or Messi in Hodgson's top three as he picks two utility men and a goalkeeper
Cristiano Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or victory may not have come as much of a surprise but there were plenty of other shocks at the Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich – not least the inclusion in the World XI of former Chelsea defender David Luiz, who captained Brazil to their 7-1 humiliation against Germany in the World Cup.
His selection caused something approaching uproar on social media sites, but there was even more incredulity after the breakdown of the Ballon d'Or voting was revealed and the selections of England coach Roy Hodgson were revealed to the world.
The former Fulham and Liverpool boss, often criticised for his tactics, chose to overlook the merits of Ronaldo and his main rival and instead selected Barcelona and Argentina utility player Javier Mascherano as the best player in the world.
His second choice confirmed his commitment to versatility in defence as he picked German Philipp Lahm, who can play in midfield or at right back. His third and final choice was another German, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – who is known for his willingness to leave the box and play as a kind of sweeper.
While Hodgson's choices prompted widespread ridicule in some circles there was a grudging respect from some quarters:
Love Roy Hodgson going for a clean sheet with his Ballon D'or picks. 1)Mascherano 2)Lahm 3)Neuer.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) January 12, 2015
I do understand people laughing at Roy Hodgson, but people are quick to forget what a good World Cup Javier Mascherano had #hodgsonstopthree
— Alex (@AlexNFFC) January 13, 2015
However, Hodgson's choices were not representative of the rest of the football world. While Neuer made the final shortlist, along with Ronaldo and Messi, only 60 out of almost 550 players coaches and media representatives picked Lahm in their top three.
Hodgson was in even more exclusive company in his choice of Mascherano. He garnered a total of 11 votes in total. His national coach and captain both voted for him, as did Brazil captain Neymar. But his other votes came from footballing backwaters including Mali, Thailand, Madagascar, Burma and Sudan. the only person to agree with Hodgson that Mascherano is the best player in the world was Belarus coach Andrei Zygmantovitch.
His idiosyncratic selection also prompted the Twitter hashtag #hodgsonstopthree. With users posting random lists with Mascherano inexplicably at number one.
Top 3 BLT sandwich fillings:
3. Bacon2. Lettuce1. Javier Mascherano
— Chris Donnelly (@maradonnelly10) January 13, 2015
#hodgsonstopthree omelette making tips:1: Break eggs into bowl2: Mix eggs (but don't beat)3: Javier Mascherano
— Jim Smallman (@jimsmallman) January 13, 2015