LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 1, 2010: Liverpool Football Club's new manager Roy Hodgson during a press conference at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“THESE things happen.”

They do.

They did.

They happened in 2012.

They happened in 2014.

These things happen.

They happened in Liverpool, Blackburn and Inter Milan. They happened, these things. They happen.

The facts about these things, the things which happen, all the facts that were ever needed, were present on April 302012. On that day, had anyone decided to look at the list of things which happen to sides that Roy Hodgson manages, they would have drawn the conclusion that these things were really rather common. That Roy Hodgson smells of thirteenth. That he is made of it. That he can bring practically anyone, from the worst player in the top flight to Lionel Messi to that level. This is what he does.

That these things happen. And they kept happening. And happening.

Maybe occasionally a side of his can over-perform and before you know where you are there are a ton of mildly annoyed Fulham supporters acting the goat. Maybe occasionally a side of his can under-perform. That is what happened against Iceland. A football team created in the mediocre image of its manager dropped below mediocre. Dropped a long way below. It happens. It is one of those things.

The best thing about “these things happen” is the passivity inherent within that sentence. What can he be expected to do about these things? They happen.

Hodgson just sends them out and then what will be will be. What will happen will happen. And they always happen to him first for he is a manager — a man — whose first thought is about how much these things which happen do so to him. Not to a team or supporters, but to him personally first and foremost. He is sure everyone is disappointed but his disappointment is of the first rank.




The discussion shouldn’t simply be about how bad Hodgson was, that he disgraced himself and his house of cards career in front of the nation, in front of the continent — we’ve done that. We were doing that in 2012 and in 2014. The discussion should be “How Hodgson?”.

How Hodgson is a complex thing, bigger than some words on a Liverpool-supporting website such as this one. It brings in a lot of issues about this house of cards nation of ours — a national game run by an organisation which isn’t fit for purpose, which abnegates its duty regularly, which is contemptuous of clubs and players and supporters up and down the country and is convinced it is better than those it is supposed to represent, effectively picked a manager they felt was one of them. Someone they could do business with. An Englishman, a southern Englishman, travelled, corporate, comes with his own blazer.

Roy Hodgson is the lies the Football Association tells itself about itself and those lies are so engrained that Hodgson was able to survive what was simply, indisputably, the worst World Cup campaign in England’s history. He was able to do so with his reputation mostly intact through a nationwide level of expectation management far, far better than his actual football management.

Read: ‘The Hodge Files’ – The Very Worst of Hodgson’s Quotes During His Time At Liverpool FC

What helped perpetuate Hodgson is that this nation has become one with easily managed expectations publicly. The coverage prior to the Iceland game was that he had to win or his job would be gone — as though that was the test. That he failed even that doesn’t demonstrate how disgracefully low belief has become in the national side. This isn’t about being arrogant or over-confident, but simply saying the side with the first or second best striking options in the tournament shouldn’t show fear against any side.

There was lots of fear. There always is with Hodgson.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2016: England manager Roy Hodgson watches Southampton take on Liverpool during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How Hodgson happened and how Hodgson kept happening is related to the British football press. When discussing how these things happen, Hodgson ended it thanking the press. A press which has mostly doffed its cap and tugged its forelock in his general direction because he comes across as a man you can deal with, a good man, a reader because part of how Hodgson is that Roy Hodgson reads books. Roy of the readers, indeed.

He and those who champion him and his reading give books a bad name. Give thoughts and ideas a bad name. Reading as a badge of honour, not as the start of enquiry into the world, the discovery of new useful ideas. A middle brow smugness, an unpleasant sneer. This is what Middle England sounds like when it thinks about football, sneering at a young black man with too much money:

How Hodgson? He is the man Henry Winter referred to as a “Broadsheet man in a tabloid world”, a sentence that rings true when you look at most editions of most broadsheets. Out of touch, self-satisfied, printed and overseen in the south of England, unsure of their place in the world. Again, “How Hodgson?” is greater than just Hodgson, our discourse dominated by an ever-shrinking Overton Window which kills both ideas and rigour. Do remember that sacking Hodgson was unthinkable after Andrea Pirlo sauntered around centre mid in 2012. Unthinkable.

People liked how Hodgson spoke. He spoke like a man who knew what was going on. He did know what was going on. Events that were broadly speaking nothing to do with him and that was the way he liked it. Having sympathy about the lives of those who probably don’t read books? Not for the likes of us. How happy so many were to have a man who sounded like he knew what was going on. A man who sounded like us.

Roy Hodgson is the wilfully ignorant complacency not of English football, but of the elite of English football — the administrators, its treatment by government and those who oversee the mainstream written, audio and visual media.

While these media managers love the cant right now — gallons of cant. Cant in your bellybutton, cant in your ears — they, like the administrative elite, cannot be bothered to look at issues central to the game on the whole until forced to, however much work good journalists try to do.

Hands off, feet up, trebles all round, chaps.

Not bothering to travel to Swansea until someone points out travelling to Swansea hasn’t happened and then there like a shot. See it as a metaphor for the whole wretched show since the Premier League was formed if you like. See it as a precursor for not bothering to watch Iceland in person and swanning off to Paris if you want. Just see it and don’t stop looking at it. Remember these well-to-do gentlemen tend to believe they are born to lead and tend not to be very good at it.

Hodgson’s career ends in disgrace. That it undoubtedly shouldn’t be the only one is both integral and neither here nor there. “How Hodgson?” is partially answered by “When Hodgson?”. The whole of Britain, as ever led by the South of England whether it likes it or not, when the wheels fell off is part of Hodgson.

Not fit for purpose. Not good enough. Not varied enough.

Roy Hodgson, and all those who enable him make the world smaller. And then, even then, they cannot deal with the world.

Hodgson’s career ends in disgrace.

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