HAD A PINT with Steve Graves last night. He is fuming. Fuming about Hodgson. He can’t stop talking about Hodgson. Had a phone call from Daniel Fitzsimmons yesterday. We’re making our debut feature film next week. Imagine that! Making a film. It’s dead hard and there’s loads to do but thankfully people far better qualified than me are sorting things out. We spoke about film related stuff for five minutes. And then Hodgson for twenty. Dan is furious. Furious about Hodgson.
Both said something like “I’m not even bothered about England. So why am I more furious than those who are bothered about England?”
Hello my old friends.
We’ve been here before. So why are we here again? It’s because I can’t get the C+ problem out of my head. And I want to work out why we are more bothered than those who should be. Shall we? Let’s…
– The season Fulham came seventh under Roy Hodgson (08/09), they won fourteen games.
– The full season Hodgson had in charge of West Bromwich Albion (11/12), they won thirteen games. Incidentally Fulham under Martin Jol that season finished ninth and won fourteen games.
– After the twenty league games Hodgson had presided over at Liverpool he had won seven games. Extrapolate that across a season. Thirteen and a half wins.
C+. C+. If you are OK with C+ (Fulham, West Brom) when great. If you want silverware and something more? C+ doesn’t cut any mustard. C+ is what Hodgson does. What he has always done. With any set of players, he does C+. C+ is where, for some reason, English football on the whole, its mainstream media on the whole, its watching public on the whole has decided to live. It’s where they’ve decided their football should be.
They have chosen the worst possible moment to do that.
Look at the sides who have prospered at this World Cup. They are sharp in transition. Aggressively winning the ball back and moving, fast as lightning at the opposition goal. Like the Manchester United of Alex Ferguson. Like the Arsenal of Arsene Wenger. Like the Chelsea of Mourinho the first time around, Ancelotti and Benitez. Like Rodgers’s Liverpool. Like Martinez’s Everton.
At a juncture where what works on the world stage is in tune with what works in the Premier League. At a juncture where the players emerge built to play the sort of football that’s worked for Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, France and Holland, players such as Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley who can be supplied and encouraged and led by Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. At a juncture where the World Cup isn’t following any sort of script, where nettles can be grasped and diems can be carped and where the Dutch can demolish the Spaniards and no one has a clue about the Mexicans.
At that juncture, at this juncture, here, now, English football is led by Mr C+. English football is led by thirteen and a half wins. English football is led by a man who himself is led by the general consensus, a man who falls between every stool, a man for whom the prevailing wind will always prevail. A man who sees football matches as a series of events predominantly outside of his control, let alone the control of his players.
And crazily, astonishingly, outrageously, seemingly everyone’s gone, yep. Sound that. We had a good first half an hour against the Italians. (The Italians went out folks). We really got about the Italians. (The Italians weren’t very good, lads. They only scored against England). We blooded some young players against the Italians and they impressed. (You mean Raheem Sterling. Who then got moved.)
Seemingly everyone’s gone, yep. Sound that. Fine margins isn’t it. Fine margins. Forget that the standard of Uruguay/England was dire. Forget the plan for Pirlo was undone after fifteen minutes when Pirlo swapped with DeRossi and played in the acres of space between Henderson and Sterling unhurried. Forget that Costa Rica – COSTA RICA – got the very point they required against England relatively untroubled. Instead focus on the midfield:
Hodgson: "I'm pleased we gave the fans something to cheer about with our performance. We outplayed them in midfield." #CRC 0-0 #ENG
— England (@England) June 24, 2014
Instead focus on Suarez’s brilliance. Remember only that England had a lot of the ball second half against Italy, not that Italy let them have it when 2-1 up. Remember those fine margins. Focus on those fine margins.
What more could be done? Fine margins. They always get you in the end.
Thirty one sides won’t win the World Cup. That’s a lot of teams that won’t win it. Fine margins will be involved at some point for all of them. But some of those thirty one will get to represent what their country’s football does well. In a World Cup where this country’s type of football actually prospers, England will not feature amongst.
Or will it? Is this thirteen wins football now what England do well? Are we a nation of C+ers? This is why Steve Graves and Daniel Fitzsimmons are fuming. This is why they are furious. Because Hodgson, the acceptance of Hodgson and Hodgeball, of his never upsetting any power that be, of never risking everything to succeed, the fact that his sheer, unending career of mediocrity has led him to the top, surrounded by a Praetorian Guard unwilling to criticise speaks of a larger malaise. If your face fits in contemporary British, English, London society, if you don’t upset the wrong people, if you don’t ruffle feathers, if you manage expectations, if you become one of the boys, you’ll always be boxed off. You’ll always be alright. This is Britain, England, London. Twenty Fourteen. This is what it looks like. Ta-da. England resplendant, Sterling moved for Rooney, false dawns, cold realities, the perfect World Cup campaign that says this is where we are now.
Knobheads boxing other knobheads off.
We laughed at the Spectator piece but at its essence is this: “He’s one of us. He’s one like us.” Roy’s Zelig. Place him around people of consequence and he’ll meet their expectations. The Croydon man who has read books. Who has learned languages. Who has gone abroad. Who is OK at the football. One of us. One of the in crowd. He doesn’t speak of hopes or dreams. He speaks of cold realities.
The rest of us, you, me, Steve, Dan we’re on the outside, looking in. We’re looking in at yet another failure. Yet more C+ from a self-appointed elite which has had so very little going for it for so long and we’re furious and we know it doesn’t matter. Because what they say is good enough.
I said to Steve, as he vented spleen, I might write something on Hodgson.
He said “What’s the point
This is great.
Bang bang son. Great stuff, I could read it all day.
As an Aussie I just can’t fathom it. He really has “support” capello won shit a lot of shit. This is way worse, yet ….nothing.
Not so main stream
Random non Liverpool internet
All for hodgson
In fact tweets from the football ramble and other pods flood my timeline with not pro hodge but ” hey give him a chance its a shit team , he had no time.”
Its fuckin crazy. Oh well c+
Bloody hell, why don’t we blame him for Thatcher and the Great Recession while we’re at it?
I cannot understand the bile the man receives. It just looks petty and small-minded. So what if he’s from Croydon? It’s not as if he was sent by the evil London elite to destroy Liverpool single-handedly, was it.
His tenure at Liverpool? Fair play, it was not good at all. Can’t defend that. Two banks of four with Torres and N’gog up front. Urgh. Paul Konchesky? Two words I don’t need to hear again. I can understand fans wanting to put that period of time to the back of their minds for all matter of reasons but to continue giving the guy grief for it is pointless above everything else.
Let’s look at the context of his appointment though because that’s where all of this comes from. Liverpool went out of the top four the previous season and looked like they were on a very slippery slope indeed. Who else was going to take the job? With G&H still at the helm, the abyss was not an unrealistic possibility. I don’t want to think of Kenny having to deal with them in the capacity of manager. We got C+ because we were n’t doing any better than that. Mascherano left for greater things and Torres would soon follow. Alonso was long gone, his supposed replacement totally unsuitable for the league (or are we going to lay the blame for that at Roy’s door as well?). The club was stuffed with mediocre players and not just the ones purchased by Hodgson.
As for England, he picked the squad everyone else would have done. He played Lallana in the friendlies, but he did n’t perform so he was dropped. He started Sterling for the Italy match and pushed Rooney out wide, obviously because he hates Liverpool and their players. We did play a lot better than in Euro2012, where Hodgson did play his dour, defensive 4-4-2. He played the younger players and left Cole and Terry at home, although that’s because he’s a cautious type who only goes with the established names.
He’s not the future, obviously. Yet he’s not to blame for the institutional failings of English football and believe it or not he’s not responsible for the time when it looked as if everything cherished by fans of Liverpool Football Club was disintegrating before our very eyes.
I am rarely moved to share my thoughts but I felt the need to directly address some of this Hodgson-apologism (whether it was intended as such or not), hopefully in a rational fashion.
“Bloody hell, why don’t we blame him for Thatcher and the Great Recession while we’re at it?”
Why would anyone do that? This piece is not blaming Hodgson for anything other than being a mediocre manager, clearly not good enough to develop the England team, and certainly not drive English football forward as a whole, even at this opportune time.
“I cannot understand the bile the man receives. It just looks petty and small-minded.”
Because he’s a mid-table manager, who has underperformed in every big job he’s had, pretending to be an accomplished European and international success, now spinning the same tale to an entire nation, and the entire world. And they’re lapping it up!
“So what if he’s from Croydon? It’s not as if he was sent by the evil London elite to destroy Liverpool single-handedly, was it.”
This isn’t about Liverpool. There is only one sentence in the entire piece referencing Hodgson’s Liverpool tenure. It’s about England. It’s about wondering why people aren’t even posing the most basic questions about Hodgson; his tactics, his win percentage, his lack of silverware, his words. People rightly questioned Rodgers on these grounds and he has answered his critics. Why is no-one asking these questions of the man who is woefully under-performing in the biggest job in the country? Henry and Werner sacked Hodgson like the Glazers sacked Moyes. Not because of the results, per se, but because there was nothing to suggest the results would improve. Hodgson and Moyes were performing at their level and their level wasn’t good enough. Hodgson and Moyes inhabit a glum fantasy world, full of startlingly false positives taken from yet another defeat, resentful of the expectation to win.
“His tenure at Liverpool? Fair play, it was not good at all. Can’t defend that. Two banks of four with Torres and N’gog up front. Urgh. Paul Konchesky? Two words I don’t need to hear again. I can understand fans wanting to put that period of time to the back of their minds for all matter of reasons but to continue giving the guy grief for it is pointless above everything else.”
Again, this isn’t about Liverpool. While Hodgson masquerades as someone deserving of the England job, there is every point in examining his credibility. His failure at Liverpool is part of that. And so we return to the central point: Hodgson only has one level. Whether he is a success or a failure simply depends on the expectation at his current club. If you want more than “maybe getting in the Europa League”, then he will fail you. That does not translate into “successful England manager”, although he would have everyone believe otherwise.
“Let’s look at the context of his appointment though because that’s where all of this comes from. Liverpool went out of the top four the previous season and looked like they were on a very slippery slope indeed. Who else was going to take the job? With G&H still at the helm, the abyss was not an unrealistic possibility. I don’t want to think of Kenny having to deal with them in the capacity of manager. We got C+ because we were n’t doing any better than that. Mascherano left for greater things and Torres would soon follow. Alonso was long gone, his supposed replacement totally unsuitable for the league (or are we going to lay the blame for that at Roy’s door as well?). The club was stuffed with mediocre players and not just the ones purchased by Hodgson.”
I think the context of his appointment is mostly irrelevant. Again, he has one level. However, if we want to talk about context, let’s look at Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Carra, Lucas, Gerrard, Kuyt, Maxi, Torres. These are not C+ players but he had them playing at a C+ level. Problems behind the scenes were surely affecting performances on the pitch – they had with Benitez. But Benitez also had two La Ligas, a UEFA cup, and a Champions League to his name to show that C+ was a dip, not a ceiling.
“As for England, he picked the squad everyone else would have done. He played Lallana in the friendlies, but he did n’t perform so he was dropped. He started Sterling for the Italy match and pushed Rooney out wide, obviously because he hates Liverpool and their players. We did play a lot better than in Euro2012, where Hodgson did play his dour, defensive 4-4-2. He played the younger players and left Cole and Terry at home, although that’s because he’s a cautious type who only goes with the established names.”
I highly doubt that the consensus of “everyone” constitutes the kind of thinking required to do well at the World Cup. He experimented with Sterling but bottled following through on it. Not “because he hates Liverpool and their players” – that point is not made anywhere – but because he is not brave enough. Playing Rooney presents Roy with the least risk – not in terms of winning or losing, but in terms of Roy’s alibi should the result be unfavourable. Maybe he doesn’t think in these stark, cowardly terms. But he still does what “everyone” would do, doesn’t take the risk, thinks inside the box, “plays it safe”, respects the status quo. He doesn’t move backwards, he just stands still while other teams move forwards.
“He’s not the future, obviously. Yet he’s not to blame for the institutional failings of English football and believe it or not he’s not responsible for the time when it looked as if everything cherished by fans of Liverpool Football Club was disintegrating before our very eyes.”
He is, however, the very embodiment of the failings of English football. In that sense it is quite apt, and perhaps inescapable, that he should end up at the top. He hasn’t literally overseen the downfall but everywhere he goes he perpetuates methods synonymous with the downfall. In an attempt to be optimistic, I hope that Hodgson’s staunch refusal to evolve will result in performances so undeniably bland, uninspiring, and ultimately ineffective that the English public and media finally recognise and acknowledge these archaic methods and attitudes across the English game as the problem all along, ushering in a new cohesive, modern football philosophy from the grassroots up, leading to a national team that can compete at above C+ level. Based on the current reaction to and acceptance of such under-performance, it appears such optimism is not justified. The sheer astonishment conveyed in this article that such an obvious deficiency be ignored is spot on.
You make some good points Nashwool and perhaps I went overboard in playing devil’s advocate.
The Liverpool stuff is relevant because I do think we’d never have articles like this if Hodgson had n’t taken the job at Anfield. My thinking is that, as you say, he’d spent most of his career as a ‘mid club’ manager and wanted another crack at managing a top club. He’d had all the praise after Fulham’s Europa League run and naturally felt he needed to capitalise on it there and then while he had a chance. His association with the dying days of the previous regime mean that he is always going to be remembered in a less than favourable light.
Anyway, I will attempt to focus on England. By ‘everyone’ I mean the general view of both pundits and fans although that is admittedly hard to quantify. There certainly was clamour to have Shaw, Lallana, Barkley and Sterling in the squad, despite their comparative lack of int. experience- it certainly was n’t the move of someone wanting to play it safe. It certainly was a risk to leave a player with the experience and ability of Ashley Cole behind at home. Of the 23 players picked for Euro 2012, 10 made it to the World Cup two years later. Is that ‘playing it safe’? Obviously a lot happens in two years but it’s hardly the mark of someone desperate to keep things the way they are.
Sure, he should’ve been brave enough to drop Rooney to the bench and keep Sterling behind Sturridge. But he did n’t have the luxury of having a number of central midfielders to choose from. Options included an out-of-form Wilshere and Milner, who continues to be on the margins at his club. With that in mind, it must have been tempting to find a place for Rooney given the times he excelled for United under Fergie with a threadbare midfield. He could’ve played Lallana but he failed to make an impression in three friendlies.
The objection I have is that the problems in English football won’t change with the dismissal/appointment of any one individual. Talk about C+, we had a bona fide ‘A’ manager in Fabio Capello and we were much worse in South Africa than we were in Brazil. At least Hodgson never picked Emile Heskey!
You’re right that there has not been a great leap forward in English football these past four years, despite the self-flagellation in the country. Hodgson is a product of a different era and he probably is n’t the one to be leading innovation in the national team, but actually that’s not his job. We have n’t moved on because the PL-controlled status quo has remained and so far no-one has the power or inclination to change it, least of all the FA who have abdicated so much of the responsibility to implement reform.
spot on – as is your post sir.
that was a reply to Nashwool
RE: Who else was going to take the job?
Answer: Manuel Pellegrini. He applied but was knocked back by Cecil because he wasn’t English.
Hodgson also bought Raul Meireles and played him on the wing. He didn’t know Milan Jovanovic had played a good portion of his career as a striker.
You’re right though, Roy picked the team everyone wanted him to. He just didn’t know how to use it.
one still wonders why Purslow was so desperate to get rid of Benitez, especially as there was to be a likely change of ownership or even bankruptcy.
One finish in 7th from an injury hit season and Rafa has been pretty much branded a failure by the english media. You still hear them saying he’s still dining out on that CL victory, totally ignoring 2 finishes over 80pts, 5 years in the CL and being so feared in Europe aswell as the 2nd CL final and building a brilliant spine to the team.
Of course it was a constant drip of negativity spurred on by Whiskey nose but his treatment is staggering compared to the media darlings such as Hodgson and Phil Neville et al.
You are right, he’s not “to blame for the institutional failings of English football”, the FA is. But looking at the squad he possessed, a squad bursting with speed and cleverness, brimming with youth and new ideas, he swept their legs himself and suffocated youthful question with his conservatism and distant stoicism. He selected the squad that played on the pitch, the lads did what they could. TAW is the only source I’ve come across to lay blame exactly where it is due: manager and association. Everyone else, from what I’ve seen, seem to be in denial. England are destined for mediocrity if things continue as they are. The inclusion of several of the Reds was the one positive to take from this but Welbeck on the wing, Barkley off the bench, really? George Benson’s song, “face it boy it’s over” is a rather fitting title for where England are at right now. It’s a great tune, perhaps one to help the FA change theirs.
Sorry Neil, have to agree with Adam in that you are coming across increasingly petty, bitter, one-eyed and small-minded about Hodgson. He wasn’t the man for Liverpool at that time (maybe never for Liverpool) – but Rafa had filled the club with a lot of shite, Liverpool were patently not the team/squad they were and with H+G it wasn’t a good time for anyone to inherit the job. Try being more rational eh?
Also, the writing ‘style’ you’ve ribbed off David Peace’s Red or Dead is starting to get boring mate
It’s pretty pathetic to make this charge against Neil when you didn’t come up with a single point to contradict him.
At least Adam tried to put together an argument, although Adam failed spectacularly in that.
Lazy comment at best.
I’ve got Hodgson fatigue. I long for the days when I thought he was just decent (as a manager and a fella) pre-summer of 2010 because it’s exhausting being this arsed about someone who should be relatively inconsequential, but has instead been allowed to become a figure of such consequence.
It’s the English way. You need to get some of those Cameron values.
Sorry Neil, have to agree with Adam in that you are coming across increasingly petty, bitter, one-eyed and small-minded about Hodgson. He wasn’t the man for Liverpool at that time (maybe never for Liverpool) – but Rafa had filled the club with a lot of fluff, Liverpool were patently not the team/squad they were and with H+G it wasn’t a good time for anyone to inherit the job.
Also, the writing ‘style’ you’ve ribbed off David Peace’s Red or Dead is starting to get boring mate
It boggles my mind how others can’t see this. England’s squad on paper has enough to go miles. Hodgson’s England can’t get a single win and people are accepting it. Absolute madness.
If Roy Hodgson is The Spectator’s idea of an England manager then no wonder they’re in the shit.
Great article, Neil. Can’t agree with some of the comments above though.
If other managers can make these same premiership players perform and play exciting football, how do they not perform for England? Because of ‘stage fright’ at the World Cup?! All of them?!
Only one team wins. Only teams set up to play to their strengths will have a chance. Good pro’s will follow their managers instructions – so WHO’s to blame now? It’s not the players – it’s never been about the players.
I’m not bothered about losing – it happens but there’s no hope watching England.
It’s frustrating that Gerrard can’t see it though. He praises Hodgson which is just bizarre.
but then he’s always thought of himself as a central midfielder, which he has NEVER been but doesn’t realise it. Makes me shudder.
Rafa realised it. Rodgers has belatedly realised it.
Bang on, Neil. Bang on.
THIS, THIS, THIS!
Absolutely 100% agree!
I’m sick of shouting this at the radio. My long suffering wife has heard me ranting about this a thousand times.
It’s frustrating…. I listen to them on 5 live, it’s all “Bring back John Terry” or “Gerrard needs to go”
It’s the fucking dinosaur in charge!
Nothing will change, I will be here in 2016, ranting at the radio, pissing in the wind.
Cannot believe there are people on here criticising Neil for being too anti-Hodgson…YOU. HAVE ALL BEEN HODGED!!! That starting XI if playing in the Premiership with a progressive, tactical manager would have a good chance at finishing top 4, maybe top 6. That should equate in no logical way to maybe top 10 in the World. Currently according to this World Cup, England under Hodgson are top 32, but we’re in the late 20’s at best.
Remember whilst we are all football knobheads, footballers don’t naturally solve problems, everything off the pitch is done for them, and they tend to simply do what they are told on the pitch, or they won’t get picked. England could have played more progressively, transitioning the ball quicker, seemingly outnumbering the opposition in midfield and attack, but we couldn’t. Why? Cause Hodgson doesn’t know how to and has never played football that way.
He doesn’t know what yo do with the wealth of stamina, speed and ability we have in Sterling, Barkley, Llanna, Oxlaide-chamberlain, Sturridge, Walcott, Welbeck, Henderson.
How can Henderson have such a terrific season at Liverpool, and then appear do abject for England. Rooney & Sturridge scored 40 goals last season. Did they look like 2 of Europes top scorers for England, Gerrard excelled for Liverpool as the anchor midfielder, why did he look so out of his depth, slow and ineffective for England??? Fatigue? lack of passion? Heat?
No… It’s because of Hodgson. Who has never had a win ration of more than 48%. WTF qualified him for this job? Not being Harry Redknapp is the answer.
I don’t expect England to win the World Cup, quarter finals is respectful enough, and we had on paper a tough group, but the apparent chasm between England and Italy/Uruguay was at best worrying and at worst a daming indictment on the wilderness and mediocrity that faces England until the FA shed their blazers and adopt a snazzy open collar approach!!!!
You’ve all been HODGED, and you don’t even know it. Genius that man.
Spot on, mate. Spot on.
Top piece, Neil.
The Hodge was pleased with the performance against Costa Rica. England had one shot on target against a team that had already qualified for the next phase, and (as much as the rankings are often a source of mirth) are currently below Scotland in the FIFA rankings.
People blame the players, yet the 14 that appeared against Costa Rica on Tuesday contributed to 144 Premier League goals last season (scored 88, assisted 56). I have no idea how many teams at the World Cup can field a team with that much firepower in big leagues but I’ll wager it’s not too many.
Nine games ago, Hodgson had his 13 wins with England. The fact he has 2 from the last 9 since tells me it’s time for him to go.
Costa Rica didn’t concede in 5 games in qualifying. Hodgson tried to say they exceeded all expectations. I don’t think he realised / knew that.
I think they conceded one goal in the group games, against Uruguay.
Italy hadn’t won in 8 games before meeting England. We made them look good, which they didn’t in either of the other games.
I ave tried explaining to non LFC fans reasons why I didn’t think Roy would prosper as England manager – despite my liking the talent in the squad. i just couldn’t put my finger on the reasons.
Thanks, you have pointed me in the right direction.
Brilliant piece, social comment merged with football and layering it out so well. As The Jam once told us, the public gets what the public wants…Hodgson was the worst manager to ever lead our club, only put in place by a member of the identified useless elite who perpetuate mediocrity because that is all they are.
Now he is England’s manager and making shite decisions on their behalf. Enjoy him Fleet Street you put him there and look forward to the years of nothingness that will ensue.
One question does puzzle me though, why on earth does our beloved captain Stevie G seem to be a big Hodgson fan ? I just can’t fathom that one at all.
Never underestimate Steven Gerrard; he’s not as Danny Murphy as he’s letting on. He purposefully took his worst ever penalty to get him out of LFC. No one knows more than Gerrard (for a number of reasons, some footballing, some of course a world less trivial and more personal) what a shower of cunts the FA are. He wouldn’t be spouting “I wouldn’t give this England manager my backing if I didn’t think he was the right man for the jib’ type-spiel if he thought there was a hope in hells chance of the FA paying Hodgson off with the absurd contract they were foolish enough to give him.
you really think stevie is that manipulative/calculating? I can’t see it.
if you do what the press says, they can’t criticise you for doing it afterwards. the definition of mediocrity.
Fuck me. As typos go that was some Freudian slip, wasn’t it?
I like the insight TomB you could be onto something there…would love to catch up with Stevie in a bar and get his real thoughts on the uselessness that is The Hodge!
One other thing: national pride aside, is it not time that England bring in another outsider? The only managers in the premiership that could feasibly pull it off, Pellegrini, Rodgers, and possibly Martinez. Capello wasn’t bad. Imagine what an outsider with some verve could do with this squad. Pekerman has done quite well for Colombia and he’s Argentine.
can’t see the fa getting away with an Argentine. But there’s plenty of young managers that could do the job.
I think they’re grooming Neville or Southgate to do the job. they might even go for Pearce if he goes back into regular management properly.
Thankfully we won’t get Mclaren again.
If Rodgers doesn’t get it right with transfers at lfc now he doesn’t have Suarez then he’ll be available, though probably not for long. Can’t see him taking it though being a N.I man.
great stuff Neil. Nails and heads and all that. well done.
I’ll look out for your film on the adult sites ;-)