Friday, 4 May 2012

The Curious Case of Mr Hodgson and Mr Redknapp

The English FA pulled something of a rabbit out of the hat this week with the appointment of Roy Hodgson as the England Manager.  Yet, if the Anglocentric press were to be believed, this was a deeply unpopular move that flies in the face of footballing logic.  Of course the relationship that “the people’s favourite” (© every London based newspaper) ‘Arry Redknapp has with these publications has nothing to do with their views.

Yet, most of Fleet Street’s finest seem to have forgotten that Hodgson has something no other England manager has gone into the job with, International experience.  His three years with the Switzerland national side saw them qualify for the World Cup in the USA, toping a group containing Italy, Portugal and Scotland.  Under his guidance Switzerland also qualified for Euro ’96 before resigning to take up a managerial role with Inter Milan.  Ironically enough, had he stayed his Switzerland side’s opening game in Euro 96 would have been against England.

I think that the English FA went for Hodgson because of that experience, and because he has a record of building teams around systems and formations, one of the methods that international managers use to build teams that do well in international tournaments.  Yet his sides are not quite as attractive or as attacking as the current Tottenham side.  It might be true that Redknapp has, rather like one of his predecessors at Tottenham Terry Venables, a good cordial relationship with sports writers (he has a column in The S*n), but Redknapp is one of the few English coaches in English football that tries to get his teams to play football “the right way”.   Yet in a pragmatic kind of a way, because of the vagaries of International football where you have to make do, Redknapps approach might not have come off.

Unwittingly though, what this appointment has shown is the divide between the sports writers and those that watch the game.  Most of “Fleet Street” have been angry at this appointment – with claims that the cheep option has been taken.  What has really got on the nerves of many fans though is the way that Redknapp has been described as “The Nation’s Choice”.  Us Scot’s are well aware of the phenomenon of the “National” newspapers only committing 3 square centimetres to Scottish stories – in a post devolution UK as well – so to see the self same newspapers cover themselves in hubris is somewhat amusing. As many fans pointed out, he might play football the right way but West Ham and Portsmouth are still recovering from Redknapps addiction to spending sprees.

I always thought that Redknapp was the far too obvious candidate, that someone like Hodgson would emerge.  Yet the most shocking aspect is not his appointment but the realisation that the English press are not prepared to forgive for “their man” not being appointed.  At the very least Hodgson deserves a honeymoon period.  If anyone is looking for an example of why so many Scottish people support Anyone But England in football tournaments, The English Press have this week supplied yet another example why this is the case.

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