The Hodgson Issue

THERE is something wonderful about what happens when Hodgey speaks at length. He thinks he is being intelligent, impressive and occasionally cleverly dissembling. Then he gives something away that indicates why his entire footballing outlook is so fundamentally flawed. In the aftermath of the defeat to the Italians Hodgson has spoken a lot. A discussion has ensued much to Paul Hayward’s delight. And in that discussion was this nugget of Hodgey:

This, here, is Hodgson writ large. The primary reason why Pirlo was able to play the way he did was England’s set-up and the fact that it at no point beyond the first fifteen minutes attempted to solve the problem that Pirlo posed. England sat so deep and made no attempt to consistently pressure Pirlo. The only way in which Pirlo was going to play poorly is by him, himself, playing poorly. On Hodgson’s terms, England could do nothing to stop him. Action was impossible because shape must be maintained.

This was reminiscent of Liverpool vs Blackpool (3rd October 2010) when Ian Holloway’s Blackpool turned up to Anfield with Charlie Adam in a centre midfield three. Adam ran the game as Hodgson’s Liverpool stood off and watched, admired. Adam’s most definitely no Pirlo but that day he looked a world beater, he bestrode midfield playing pass after pass under a minimum of pressure.

I’ve little sympathy with the argument that Hodgson hasn’t had time to imprint his style on this side. This is Hodgson’s England. That shape, those two lines of four moving hypnotically around the pitch like a 90’s screensaver, this is Hodgson. Indeed, Hodgey deserves credit of sorts for the speed with which this side has been built in his image. It’s here though that those who urge time for him to really implement his ideas are erroneous. These are his ideas. You have seen them. If Hodgson sees out his four year contract he will have less time, fewer training sessions, with these players (ever changing players as well, by the way) than he did during his abortive six months at Anfield. For those of you watching in black and white, this is what Roy Hodgson looks like.

It’s easy to conclude that Hodgson was the wrong man at the wrong time at Anfield. But Hodgson is the wrong man at the wrong time for any football team that has an interest in actively hunting down victory in football matches, not waiting for a mistake to bestow victory upon them. Hodgson is a 50 point manager. He gets a side organised, has them follow his principles and if they do so they’ll lose fewer games. There is a place for Roy Hodgsons in all leagues, in all football traditions. Someone has to be a good mid table manager. Someone has to be Hodgey. If a side has pretentions towards genuine victory though, he is, inevitably, the wrong man at the wrong time.

While obviously biased, in my view the most salient point in the nationwide post-Pirlo discussion was made in The Anfield Wrap podcast. It is also one of the most simple. When Sean Rogers says that very few teams win international tournaments, he couldn’t be more correct. Fifteen sides won’t win the Euros. One will. Accepting this means that we can move beyond the notion of win at all costs. Even if we accept the (in my view utterly false) notion that Hodgson and his football were England’s most likely chance of success in this tournament it doesn’t mean that Hodgson and his football should be accepted and adopted. Increasing England’s chances in the short-term from (obviously arbitrary figures) 6% to 7% should mean nothing against increasing England’s chances in tournaments to come of playing the sort of progressive, aggressive football that can challenge for honours by more than hanging on for dear life. England could also play in a manner which says something about the character of this nation’s football at its best, not at its most fearful.

And this is why this article is on a Liverpool supporter’s website. Not because of an irrational hatred of Hodgey (though I possibly do possess one) but because what the national team does, the way the game is played at that level and through its systems and structure does impact across the rest of the country. The way the game is spoken about within this context matters. How we as a nation address our football counts. The BBC coverage has been proudly, loudly brainless. Our nation’s collective suspicion against perceived “cleverness” in football is a massive problem. Every football side attempting to be great now needs to be clever. Spain, for instance, work things out in football matches, they see that things don’t work and they change them.

This isn’t a voguish call to Catalonia. England do not have to adopt the Spanish philosophy in the short, medium or long term other than simply coaching better, smarter footballers. England should look at what has worked historically for England and English sides. But they should first and foremost not engage in football matches with fear and ignorance. The first step towards running a game is wanting to run a game. While Spain are currently impressing hugely in playing in a possession orientated way, it isn’t the only way. You don’t have to make a thousand passes. You don’t have to dominate possession. You can be strong, dominate position, force sides back and seize the initiative. You can demand the game be played on your terms rather than cede possession and territory with the inevitable it is played entirely on the opposition’s. As the game wears on your side can and should respond to regain or maintain control.

That Joe Hart and Andy Carroll managed to complete 15 passes without fault suggests something positive – that the Italians could not cope with Andy Carroll in the air. That this pass combination was England’s most successful is obviously negative. No one got near Carroll and he wasn’t found near the goal. Carroll’s a better player than just a beacon, but as beacon he couldn’t have been more effective. The way he was employed was the short-coming. There is nothing wrong with direct football, there is everything wrong with passive football. There‘s nothing wrong with an aerial route to win, there is everything wrong with any route to draw. Being aerially strong in attack (as England have been for years with both Crouch and now Carroll) isn’t something to be ashamed of, it is something to build on and around. The much loved Czech side that got Greeked (Hodged?) in 2004 built around Jan Koller. They played proactive, aggressive football. They had intelligence. They often changed their approach during games but the central force of their side was Koller. England have had players available in this campaign that are in the vicinity of the class of those Czech players but have shown none of the verve, brio or imagination. There is no room for any of that in Hodgson’s football.

There’s a famous quote (from Helmuth von Moltke the Elder): “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.” A Roy Hodgson plan always extends beyond that first contact with total certainty. This has to work. It always has. And when it hasn’t it is because it has been enacted badly, not because it has any faults. It was present against Italy, unchanging despite Pirlo’s control being unyielding. At the very highest level Hodgson’s football is simultaneously cowardly, arrogant and wilfully ignorant. Set-up and hope for the best because this is all we can do – nothing can change once that white line has been crossed. Hodgson should not have been given the job of England manager and certainly not on a four year deal. It was an outrageous decision by the FA. This campaign has shown, across four games and two friendlies, exactly why. Him being relieved of it at the earliest opportunity would be in the short, medium and long-term interests of English football as a whole. Hodgson should never have been in. Now he should be out.


  1. Martin Fitzgerald

    Couldn’t agree more Neil. His in-game management in the Italy game was poor. He literally let Pirlo run the show. Had he watched the 2nd half of the 2005 Champions League final he may have got some idea on how to stop him.

    He’s also since come out and suggested Rooney wasn’t having a great game Typical with Roy, he directs his honesty at everyone except himself. It also begs the question, “Why did he keep him on for the whole 120 minutes?”

    The reason Roy didn’t stop Pirlo or drag Rooney is the same – he wasn’t losing, therefore everything was fine. It’s not about winning with Roy, it’s about not losing

  2. I reckon that Neil has summed up Hodgson and his approach to the game very accurately here.

    It was noticeable that the Italian coach never sat in his dugout during the entire 120 minutes of the game. The Hodge however just sat back in his dugout confident that his tactics of not losing in open play were working perfectly.

    I really do not ever want to have to watch another 120 minutes of football that the Hodges team served up against the Italians.

  3. James Sutton

    “Our nation’s collective suspicion against perceived “cleverness” in football is a massive problem” This. eloquently put as always.

  4. B Mondair

    Hodgson explicitly said as much in one of the post match interviews.

    He said Pirlo is so good that whatever you do he will find space.

    So he means ‘why bother’ presumably.

  5. A Hodge podge followed by a Hodge dodge.

  6. drakerichards

    A first rate ass hole….but we knew that

  7. *****face

    if you’d have played the schoolyard game with players that the Hodge didn’t use at the Euro’s I bet you could get three teams that a decent manager could get to dominate this England team.

  8. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Not buying into the fact that Hodgson done the best he could with limited time and resources. In fact, he done better. He was able to reflect and mirror his total footballing philosophy onto the pitch and players in only four tournament games. That is, archaic, positionally stagnant 4-4-2 non-reactive, non-proactive football. The man must be commended. The man, is a mad genius.

    But some in the media are now saying, “now that we are out of the tournament this is when Roy Hodgson must progress and put his stamp on this England team”. Excuse me. I’m sorry, have you not seen Roy Hodgson’s last 600 years in professional football management. This is Roy. That was Roy. That tournament. The way England played. That is Roy Hodgson’s footballing philosophy in a nutshell. There will be no overall progress of an innovative footballing style. He’s not suddenly going to play 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3, use a libero or trequartista, a double pivot, an inverted triangle, even a f**king square.

    When are ‘these’ people going to wake up and smell the 4-4-2. Has he really got that many friends in the press? Are they purposely turning a blind eye? Is he a false creation, proceeding from the heat oppressed brain.

    When I think of Roy’s relationship with the media, admittedly, when I’m alone, in my bedroom, sipping red lemonade in nothing but my paisley y-fronts, this quote from The Usual Suspects springs to mind, “he greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”.

    • But some in the media are now saying, “now that we are out of the tournament this is when Roy Hodgson must progress and put his stamp on this England team”. Excuse me. I’m sorry, have you not seen Roy Hodgson’s last 600 years in professional football management. This is Roy. That was Roy. That tournament.

      This. Made me think of that skit done by baddiel and the other one back in the ’90’s …. “see that old system over there, that rigid 442, those scared boys against skillful men, those deep defending drones, see the fear? …… that’s you that is….. that’s your system…… that’s your legacy that is….” !

      SHAME ON YOU ROY, shame

  9. Massive hammer hitting massive nail on head….


  10. shornKOOMINS

    There is nothing to add. This is it. It’s crystal clear and demonstrably cogent from start to finish. Yet a nation has stuck its fingers in its ears and, as one, gone “la la la I’m not listening”. They think he’s worked miracles. Someone actually said that, on television! It blows my mind.

    • Agree totally. The reaction of the media has been laughable, did they really not know what Hodgson was going to serve up? Had they collectively never watched one of his teams play? did they not ask themselves ‘ can we win a tournament (or do well in one) playing like West Brom? ‘

  11. Agree 100% on hodgson but think the problem runs much deeper. The movement of our front six is non existent at international level and has been for years. When the top teams play, players have 3 or 4 options on the ball. when England play there is so little movement it is unbelievable. All the clever creative midfielder’s in the premiership who play in between the lines are foreign such as silva, mata, modric, nasri. These type of midfielder’s are what drag teams about and help you keep possession by finding positions to receive the ball. Until we can start producing these type of players we will struggle. Even when we have had players who could play this type of role in the past like le tissier, barnes, waddle they were made to stay out side and were criminally underused or over criticised. A full transition of the way we play needs to be implemented and I think Hodgson is possibly the worst person to turn to and probably England’s best would have been our very own Brendan Rodgers. So England’s future looks dire but hopefully ours a lot brighter.

  12. Uskovian Red

    “The BBC coverage has been proudly, loudly brainless.”

    Nicely put. Ever since the BBC lost the right to screen England matches (because the FA deemed their coverage as ‘Anti-England’ & not enough cheerleading), the BBC have gone out of their way to dumb it down and present a ‘One Nation under the St George’s Cross’ attitude. They are better than that.

    That Lineker has been reduced to making snide comments about ‘Ze Germans’, towels by the pool and all that malarkey, to me, show that they are happy to have reduced themselves to the ITV jingoism level.

    I’m not even commenting on Lawrenson… blood pressure isnt great as it is!!.

  13. The cleverness angle is spot on but it goes further. It is arrogance and self percieved importance, and its present in Fan culture and management.

    The english “disease” is
    1) Management – You know more about football the more sucessful you are as a player, “get your medals/cap out”, “what do you know you have never played” brigade.

    2) Fan – you are higher up the food chain in your football knowledge because you go the match therefore you opinion is not only right but carries more weight.

    You can play the game and be a good “effective” player based on instinct, you can even follow instructions but it doesn’t mean you know how to manage a player, it doesn’t mean you can see team patterns of play and analyse tactics and break them down.

    Similarly you can support your team enthusiastically or sarcastically, but it doesn’t mean you know how the game works.

    an example ex pros as pundits – not many that give insightful tactical analysis is there?

    My sweeping judgement on players who make good managers are ones that are not quick, or slow towards the end of their career, players who need to position themselves or adapt, have the ability to think. Instinctive players do not think.
    Thats why defenders/midfielders seem to be the ones who become coaches.

    The english game is based on power and pace. Its high tempo. So its hard to get players to change pace and probe and work these things out at a million miles an hour.

    Knowing how the game works is one challenge, but you have to be able to communicate this to the players so they understand, you have to manage ego’s, you have to motivate , inspire too. If you have all this you have a talented well rounded coach. Many fail to possess all facets.

    I think we may get some good coaches out of the generation of players who have played under benitez, wenger, houllier and mourinho “non playing” type coaches, but I think that we are still a long way off as a nation being brave enough to appoint one without prior experience.

    That said I guess Rodgers is the first and only current uk version of this strange non playing breed?

    • “an example ex pros as pundits – not many that give insightful tactical analysis is there?
      My sweeping judgement on players who make good managers are ones that are not quick, or slow towards the end of their career, players who need to position themselves or adapt, have the ability to think. Instinctive players do not think.
      Thats why defenders/midfielders seem to be the ones who become coaches.”

      I’ve come to this exact conclusion over the past few years. Look at the pundits and coaches alike. Players who either failed early or who were largely successful by overcoming a lack of natural ability are much more intelligent in their understanding of the game. The examples in management are countless but you can see it in the pundits too. Compare G. Neville to A. Shearer. Nothing more needs to be said.
      And it makes sense doesn’t it. Unfortunately the largest media brackets don’t get it and have no interest in trying to promote intelligent thinking about the game.

  14. Brilliant.

    I also have a hatred for Roy that stems from his time at Anfield. He is a cowardly, selfish, nasty, self-deluded, mediocrity of a man.

    His love-in with the English media is astonishing. I can only conclude from this, that they must be even more moronic and lacking in football knowledge than I previously thought.

    Many are currently suggesting that Roy will now work on England playing more attacking, atractive football, as though this Euro tournament was somehow an emergency exception to his usual style football.

    Why do they think this will happen? Have they ever actually watched a Roy team? He made it very clear indeed when he was questioned at Anfield that he had one way of playing and one way only. A way that has served him well for 36 years (if by “serving well” you mean winning nothing outside Scandanavia).

    This is The Hodge – this is how he plays. It will not get any better than this.

    He should be hounded out to loud boos. Instead he’s lauded and praised as some sort of intellectual. I guess it says much about the standard of intelligence amongst the British football press.


  15. In summary on the Hodge.

    Read a book by charles hughes in the 70s and found a then fairly successful formula.
    Took it to scandanavia and had some success.
    Took it to Average teams and had average success.
    Took it to some good teams and failed

    By this time he had carved a niche living out and was too stupid or too arrogant to enrich his coaching knowledge and methods.

    He is a marathon living in a snickers world.

    adapt, evolve or die!

  16. It’s a stunning bit of writing this.

    On the footballing issue, it’s the same irk I had with Rafa’s football in his last season in charge (which I remember you discussing with Jim B on the podcast a few months ago – “ale house football”). It’s the fundamental perception of your team and your resources as lacking, and you’re right – it’s borne of fear. But to do it systematically, with complete disregard for the talent at your disposal? That’s something more fundamental, as you rightly point out.

    Paul Simpson in the March 2010 issue of Champions magazine wrote an article called “The Right Of The Weak” on this very topic – how this brand of football was a logical choice when a squad is limited and needs to punch above its weight. To be “Hodgey”.

    “Because football isn’t ice skating, and you don’t get points for artistic merit, results have always mattered more than style, Counter attacking was once deemed a Macchiavellian blot on the beautiful game, but Andy Roxburgh, UEFA’s technical director… recalls: “One youth coach told me he asked his players to always hit their corners behind the goal. His team were so bad, he didn’t want them caught on the break if the other team won the first header.”

    …[in the 1940s] Alexander Kuzmich Abramov used a similar system known as the Volga clip to revitalise Soviet minnows Krylya Sovetov Kuibyshev. Critics accused him of winning ugly, but his spoiling tactic was grudgingly accepted as ‘the right of the weak’ in the words of Russian football writer Lev Filatov.”

    But England isn’t ‘weak’. In two years’ time it could quite feasibly field a side such as the following.

    Hart, Johnson, Jones, Caulker, Cole, Wilshere, Gerrard, Henderson, Chamberlin, Carroll, (and let’s say) Sterling.

    In two years’ time there’s every chance that kind of side could match any other in the International game man for man. But it’s moot, because strategically, the FA have chosen to apply the hand brake.

    From the Scottish point of view, all you can say is “four more years”.

    • Our style of Football is not the only thing that is useless, our ‘football media’ are on a par with Hodgson’s eng-er-land.
      Without wishing to blow smoke up your collective arses here, TAW and a small number of other ‘fansites’ are the only places left where it is possible to find intelligent, articulate writing and interesting (mostly) debate between fans.

  17. Here was man who took the Apartheid coin to facilitate his football career. In addition to being a suspect football tactician he also came to the England job with morality questions. He had dressed up his football dossier to show off humble beginnings in Scandinavia when he in fact he was playing and coaching in a “Whites-Only” football federation.

    Given the climate in England at the time of his appointment — one of apparent no tolerance for racism — it would have seemed reasonable to have expected his appointment to have been rescinded the moment Hodgson’s Apartheid sports boycott breaking years were detailed by South African sports journalist, Neal Collins. Given the FA’s treatment of Luis Suarez and the resulting bile vomited on the pages of the English press and spat out against Suarez at various stadia, it would have also been perfectly reasonably to have expected Hodgson to have received similar anger. Yet, there was not a peek, save for a momentary blip, when Keme Nzerem of Channel 4 News, asked him to explain his Apartheid years at his opening press conference. The story got a brief mention in two of the subsequent day’s daily papers, “The Daily Mirror” and “The Daily Telegraph”, but otherwise, English editors preferred to share Roy’s Swedish and San Siro swoonings with theirs readers. Ditto the broadcast media.

    It is one thing to express regret at an ignorant decision made at a relatively youthful stage of one’s life, though it is harder to understand how Hodgson acknowledged the evil of the Apartheid system and regime though continued to plot how best to coordinate his lines of four across the highveld.

    How the English football authorities, press and public refused to absorb Hodgson’s history suggests to me they were not serious in their dealings with Luis Suarez in anything other than to make him a scapegoat for their own failings. It follows they don’t take football very seriously either. As such, English folk who care about football can expect nothing but future follies.

  18. pete craven

    cant wait for the world cup qualifiers to start. same nonsense at home to poland ukraine montenegro and moldova and this will be good san marino. if he lasts that long of course.

  19. Superb stuff Neil.

  20. Peter Tuckwell

    Neil another fantastic article and I agree with everything you have said watching Hodgsons teams play is really bad them 2 sets of 4 never getting out of line and making something happen just don’t excist with this team and it will not change while he in charge does the FA and Trevor Brooking really like this kind of football?if so then they also need changing

  21. Sums it up perfectly, Neil.

    The amazing thing is that the media and gullible fans have bought into this idea that England has a mediocre squad-an international Fulham. This would be the same squad is the most expensive at Euro 2012 and contains six or seven players who have won the Champions League, including four this season.

    It’s reminiscent of the crap certain people came out with when he was at Liverpool and took a side who finished 7th into the relegation zone- ‘Benitez left behind a poor squad, what can he do’ etc etc.

    People are really ready to go out of their way to celebrate mediocrity in this country, so a quarter final exit is ‘more than he could have hoped for.’ Until this attitude changes, we’ll have a fight on our hands to produce ‘winning’ football. Luckily, this is something Rodgers seems to be committed to, very happy to have him and his fresh ideas when you compare him to Hodgey and his Allen Wade-style hoofball which has stood him in good stead for 37 years or however long it is now.

  22. Doubledeutsch1

    Very good, Neil. One small quibble – no hatred of the Hodge could ever possibly be described as irrational.

  23. Good read Neil. In fairness to Roy, I think Young and Milner were only another 4 or 5 games away from putting in some stellar performances in this 6 game max tournament. Good on you for your perseverance with them Roy!

  24. Brilliant,
    I have to agree with Neil in the post above, I’m absolutely staggered that most of the media and fans have lapped up this idea that this England team are made up of a collection of average players. And have actually gone beyond all expectations in this competition.

    They obviously arent in the same bracket as Spain and the Germany but the majority of these players are littered with medals and most have experience of playing in the champions league. 7 of the starting 11 won a trophy last season.

    But are we to expect anything less from the man who excels in mediocrity and lowering expectations.

  25. What a great piece. The reaction to the Italy game has been one of quite extraordinary wilful blindness. Never before have I sense the utter philistinism of English football culture so keenly.

  26. There is a place for Roy Hodgsons in all leagues, in all football traditions. Someone has to be a good mid table manager. Someone has to be Hodgey. If a side has pretentions towards genuine victory though, he is, inevitably, the wrong man at the wrong time.

    This succintly sums up Roy Hodgson. His methodologies are such that he can get a below avarage side to average, or just above, but those same methodologies will leave a good or excellent side in roughly the same position – because it reduces the need to be ‘good at football’ the ‘anti fooball’ appraoch.

    The premier league for the moment is in decline, currently I think La Liga is better, it is still though way ahead of Siera A; That England team play week week out against better opposition that the Italians one do, hands down; if Hodgey had gone for it (by that I mean allow his players to engage the ball before it gets, lets say, into our final third), they probably would have won.

    I work overseas and thankfully have missed the aftermath of the England exit, but it seems from the above that Hodgeys hoodoo over the press is continuing. Some poetic summations of our press in the UK in the brilliant artical above; for me it is weighted by a tabloid, southern (as much mentality as location), ladish culture that celebrates stupidity.

    Having non been into Basketball for nearly 20 years, I was hypnotised by the NBA finals this year, and not just because of the play, but more around the game anaylsis. The inteligence with which the game is dissected is astounding and thrilling, the language (there is a short hand phrase for almost any type of situation you can think of), the articulation, the accountability of the punditry is complusive, and I say this as someone who is very snobbish about the American intelectualism. Other sports have this also, the way Teddy Atlas speaks about Boxing, Mcenroe on Tennis – there is literally no one who speaks that deeply about football on mainstream telly. Andy Gray was OK, and Hansen too, but he (like the BBC in general) is lazy on matters outside of the premiership. Yourselves apart, the state of our press is in a far worse shape than our team, and as you said Neil, it matters.

    Anyway the future of England revolves around Jack – Jack Rodwell, Jack Wiltshire, but if Hodgey remains in charge, Jack Sh*T (see what I did there!)

  27. 100% agree, just can’t believe hes conned rest of country LOL its guna get a lot worse i bet

  28. Alex Allen

    I watched the Hart/Carroll love-in with increasing incredulity and hilarity.

    No disrespect intended to either player – indeed totally the opposite – but to Bodgson I have to quote “Is that all you got ?!!!”

    Seriously, Italy are good, but they are not THAT much better than us (on paper at least).

    Please somebody tell me we haven’t got at least another 2 years of this ?
    Culminating in…Brazil of all places ?!

  29. Paul C Millard

    Confession time. I wanted the Hodge at Liverpool. I really admired the job he did at Fulham. But his PR was awful from Day one and his ‘honesty’ was hanging players out to dry. Never himself. I live in West Bromwich. I believe he did a decent job at Albion and I get told this every day by Baggies fans saying LFC never gave him a chance with our Kenny loyalty (Which club has a bigger living legend in the stands anyway? None). Internet Mailboxers nail Liverpool fans over how we treated Roy but now they’re doing it as well from an England point of view. I just don’t see how this man can be the future of English football (or set it up) when he does not value youth. And anybody could see how great Pirlo was playing in 20 yards square space

  30. Graham Stephenson

    Fantastic article, just wanna mirror what everyone else has said; its very well written and spot on. I just can’t believe the country has bought into all this “Hodge Hype” how hard would it have been to say at half time “Wayne, you’re not looking that sharp for us going forward but drop off when we’ve not got the ball and do a job for the ten by getting in and around Pirlo”?! We could all see it and apparently he knows more about footy than us so why couldn’t he?!

  31. I just wish Stevie would pack it in, & not crash & burn as he undoubtfully will when England fair to qualify for the next tournament.

  32. Kevin Barry

    The problem with English football can be heard at every ground in every division of every league in the country, every week. Whenever a Hoddle, Waddle, LeTissier gets the ball, he is regaled with ‘GET RID OF IT’. This has been happening since the days of Len Shackleton and his ilk.

    Roy Hodgson is English football distilled.

  33. Neil I agree with most of what you’re saying. But I think England fans have to wake up a little bit. What Roy does is basic, we know that. We’ve seen it everywhere he’s been except your place. He takes average teams and makes them compete with better ones. And that’s exactly what he did for England. Organisation, spirit and unity.

    I’ve been sick of watching England teams take the field over 20 years not having a plan A, never mind a B,C or D. At least here they had one, not saying it was a good one but at least they had one. You could tell that the players were playing for each other & knew what they needed to do. When you have a bunch of players like this lot, average at best – Henderson for christs sake!!! a past it Stevie G offering glimpses of genius mixed with 99% anonymity, an unfit Rooney etc etc you’ve not got many options.

    Suck up pressure, let them have the ball in the non dangerous areas then hit them on the break. Worked for Fulham & West Brom against much superior opposition. But here we had no ability to break. The ball was lost as soon as it went anywhere near Rooney, Young and Walcott was he on the pitch?

    Yes it’s not an overtly commanding way to try and win a match but with this lot i’m afraid it was pretty much our only option. We were destined to play like this when Roy picked such a shit squad.

    Don’t think i agree with Roy – the thought of us playing like this for another four years fills me with dread. But just because he was wrong for your team because you have the ability to attract great talent, doesn’t mean he’s not right for an England team distinctly devoid of any such talent for a fair while to come.

    boring and dull as it may be.

  34. Sorry for posting something irrelevant to the debate, but just had to say this.

    One of the best football articles I’ve read in 2012. Huge thumps up!

  35. Top stuff as always Neil, thanks.

    I enjoyed an article pointed out by John Sinnott on Twitter yesterday:

    The headline is “Pirlo the dangerman warns Hodgson”. The interesting thing is that the article is from before the 2005 Champions League final! Seven years later and Roy clearly forgot to heed his own advice on Sunday.

    Whilst 13 of the 14 Italians had a pass success rate of 80% or more on Sunday, only five England players did. To make matters worse, the English five only attempted 105 passes between them; Pirlo tried 131 on his own, with 87% completion to boot.

    On Monday, Roy said: “I don’t regard statistics, and especially possession statistics, as particularly important when saying which is a good team and which is a bad team”. Let’s review the stats from Euro 2012 so far then, shall we Roy?

    The top two teams for possession are the likely finalists: Spain (67.5% average), then Germany (59.3%). Who were the bottom three? Ireland (33.3%), Greece (38%), and then England (39.8%), definitely three of the worst teams at the tournament.

    What makes matters worse is that tactics employed to try to avoid defeat merely invited pressure on to the team, and the statistics reflect this. England gave away the second most number of shots per game (22.3) at Euro 2012, and as they had very little interest in attacking aside from set-pieces, they had the fourth fewest shots on target per game too (with just eleven across their six-and-a-half hours of football, or just 2.8 per game).

    It was only England’s absurdly high conversion rate (45.5% of their shots on target were scored, compared to a Premier League average of 28.5% across the last four seasons) combined with wastefulness on the part of their opponents (just three goals against from an incredible eighty-nine shots conceded) that enabled England to do as well as they did.

    There is zero chance of long term development or success for England whilst Hodgson is in charge. I expect they’ll qualify for the World Cup, but an early exit surely awaits.

    • Awesome stats and what a magnificent find that Hodgson article is!

      This was a great piece but I’ve also really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, there are a great deal of very football intelligent people out there! Thank you for sharing

  36. Jon from Ohio

    Wonderful writing Neil, very engaging and addresses the problem of Hodgey very well.

    As an American I’ll always be a supporter of the good ole USofA for national team football, but that being said I have always been keen on England as well. Being a Liverpool fan for many years now and trying to explain to my friends why Hodgson is a terrible football manager and the wrong pick for England manager has been an arduous task indeed. I was so excited when he got the sack only to be ‘gutted’ (as you fellers would say) when he got elected as the next best thing for England.

    This article does a much better job of explaining his shortcomings than my drunken ramblings to friends, so I’ll be doing a lot of tagging to help educate the masses.

  37. He managed the Team in my home town, Viking F.K from 2004-06 (when he started training Finland)
    I won’t comment his style of play or philosophy wich was old then.

    He was mostly known by the journalists for his moodswings.

    The Goalkeeper, Frode Olsen has written down some of his comments to the players. Let me know if you want more of these

    Too the board: «All you get from young players is relegation»

    «Don´t ever consider your self as a playmaker. Hold the ball. Look up and play simple», too the big man up front Peter Kovacs

    Too Alexander Gabrielsen: » Who are you? Franz Beckenbauer? Get the ball up to the big man (Kovacs) and let him deal with it»

    «I should have been in Monaco smoking my fucking cigar. Instead I find myself here with you guys. Fighting the elements for pocket-money» to the players during rain Suggesting a pause until it stops

  38. “That shape, those two lines of four moving hypnotically around the pitch like a 90’s screensaver, this is Hodgson.”

    Haha! If only the Hodge had watched more milkdrop…

  39. Brilliant, thanks for this, especially the “Pirlo is the man to watch” link!

  40. I wonder who’s Hodgson’s handler is? Because I bet he’s pissing himself right now

  41. Steve Hart

    100% agree.
    Hodgson is to football strategy what Douglas Haig was to military strategy in WWI.

  42. I know I’m coming late to the conversation, but I’d go one further and say that, no matter how bad (well, mediocre) a club manager Hodgson is, he’s far worse on the international stage.

    At least at a club Hodgson can buy in players to fit his system. Internationally, his choice of players is far more limited. A good international manager adopts a system to fit his players as Del Bosque and Prandelli have done.

    Hodgson only knows one way to play. It’s not just 4-4-2 that he’s wedded to, it’s those interminably rigid banks of four. It might help an average team perform better than expected (although for England, the QF is really par) but it doesn’t help to accommodate England’s very best players, and it doesn’t play to anyone’s strengths. And, crucially, it isn’t going to get any better than this.

  43. bob pierce

    Couldnt agree more, you picked out the Blackpool game as an example but any game under Hodgson would have done, Everton when he “thought” it was the best we had played. Wolves when he kept rubbing his face as though it were a lamp and a genie would appear.
    Strangely the Fulham and West Brom fansare are amazing in their lack of comdemnation. Perhaps he successfully managed their expectations.

  44. Hodgson (or Hodgkinson as my Dad calls him), should be doing more than booking the team bus! much more!

  45. Unbelievable! This was written post Euro 2012, yet it’s still solidly pertinent and up-to-date to expose England’s lack of progression under Hodge! Brutal truth. Absolutely brutal..

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