Belfast Telegraph

I fear for England's chances under Roy Hodgson

By Steven Beacom

The World Cup draw is tomorrow. Apparently that evil French genius Michel Platini has been over in Rio all week plotting the demise of English football!

They say the Uefa president has been mixing up all the pots so that England land the toughest group imaginable!

Have you ever heard such garbage?

Sounds a bit like getting your excuses in early to me.

With Northern Ireland and the Republic not there, England will be the team we'll watch more than any other next summer.

Some will cheer them on for historical reasons and because their heroes like Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard will be playing.

Some will jeer them for historical reasons and because they just like to see 'the English getting duffed".

Me? The longer they stay in the 2014 finals, the better.

The tournament will be much more interesting when they are involved, if only for the emotions they tend to generate.

I'm not hopeful though that the Three Lions will still be roaring a fortnight in.

And that's regardless of who they are paired with tomorrow.

Reasons? One is that their players aren't as good as those who will be representing most of the other nations in South America.

Another is Roy Hodgson, the man in charge.

You know the way some people just don't do it for you... well, Hodgson's that way with me.

I don't know the bloke, and it's nothing personal, but in all my time watching football I can't recall ever being excited by one of his teams.

And he's had plenty.

Some might say what about England's last two home games in their World Cup qualifying campaign at Wembley against Montenegro and Poland when they played attacking, adventurous football?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't England have to win both those games to qualify, so they were always going to have to attack, otherwise Hodgson would have got the sack. Also the section England qualified from wasn't exactly the Group of Death now, was it?

Had they been in with Portugal and Russia, like Northern Ireland, do you really think they'd be going to Brazil?

No, me neither.

Roy's CV will tell you that he's been a successful manager at club and international level, but truth be told I'd have preferred Harry Redknapp landing the job.. or Jamie come to that.

Rarely predictable, Harry's game has always been about entertainment, goals and having a real go home and away.

Even QPR, whom he is managing now in the Championship, are an intriguing side to watch and not just because you don't know what Joey Barton will do next.

A theory is Harry, odds on favourite for the post when Fabio Capello left, was not what the Football Association were after.

Roy was.

Funny enough back in 2007 Hodgson was being lined up by the Irish FA to become Northern Ireland manager after Lawrie Sanchez departed.

He was ruled out due to his commitment to Finland at the time.

Five years on he was in charge of England on 10 times the salary he would have got over here.

FA suits will say Roy has 'dignity, professionalism, class'.

What about double standards?

Last month ahead of England's friendly with Germany, Daniel Sturridge wasn't fully fit, yet he was selected to start and play the full game by Hodgson.

The England manager said he had no reason to apologise for the decision and was entitled to "test his (Sturridge's) resolve a little bit".

I bet that went down well with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.

This was the same Roy Hodgson who, when manager of Liverpool, said he was "disappointed and a little bit angry" about losing Gerrard to an injury suffered in an England friendly.

Gerrard missed a month due to a hamstring tear against France, going off after 84 minutes when Liverpool requested he play only for an hour.

I know managers have to look after themselves, but after Sturridge damaged his ankle in training with Liverpool last week, meaning two months on the sidelines, did Hodgson really have to declare: "They are better (off) getting injured now."

Adding insult to injury is the phrase you are looking for.

Considered useless when he was boss of Liverpool, he hasn't exactly endeared himself to Kopites since.

Other fans around England remain uninspired by their boss.

Even if they get the luck of the draw in Brazil tomorrow, with Hodgson in charge, don't expect England to make a major impact in the World Cup.

Belfast Telegraph


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