Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Southgate, Neville and Rodgers lead race to succeed Hodgson as England boss

England 1 - Iceland 2

By Mark Ogden

The race to become new England manager has already begun after Roy Hodgson resigned following the humiliating Euro 2016 elimination against Iceland, with Gareth Southgate and Gary Neville the leading contenders to replace the 68-year-old.

Southgate, the current Under-21 boss, and Neville, who also stepped down as assistant manager last night, are just two of the candidates.

Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers, who recently took over as Celtic manager, is also among the favourites for the job, with Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew and Sunderland supremo Sam Allardyce in the frame too.

Having seen his team lose 2-1 to the Cinderella side of France 2016 in Nice, Hodgson delivered a statement in a post-match press conference without taking questions.

Flanked by his assistants, Neville and Ray Lewington, the former Liverpool, Inter Milan and Fulham boss admitted he could not continue in the job following such an embarrassing result.

"I'm extremely disappointed of course about tonight's result and ultimately our exit from the competition," Hodgson said. "We haven't progressed as far as I thought we were capable of, and that's obviously not acceptable.

"I'm actually proud of the work my coaching staff and I have achieved over our time at the helm of England.

"The transition from the squad, whose average age was 30, to now being the youngest in the tournament is both remarkable and exciting for the future of English football.

"I would have loved to stay on for another two years. However, I am pragmatic and I know we are in the results business.

"My contract was always up after the Euros, so now is the time for someone else to oversee the progress of this young, hungry and extremely talented group of players.

"They have been fantastic and have done everything that has been asked of them."

Hodgson confirmed that Neville and Lewington will follow him out of the job, although Neville may yet return as his successor. He added: "I'm sorry it's had to end this way with another exit from the tournament. These things happen."

The night had started so well for the Three Lions, with Raheem Sterling - whose inclusion was questioned after below-par performances at the tournament - winning a penalty after just three minutes after being felled by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.

When Wayne Rooney converted to put England ahead, it seemed as though Hodgson's team were set for a quarter-final against hosts France.

But the reality was anything but. Hopeless defending, a lack of attacking intelligence and the latest example of Joe Hart's accelerated decline as an international-class goalkeeper saw England throw away their golden start to fall 2-1 behind before 20 minutes had elapsed.

Iceland were level within three minutes when England failed to deal with Aron Gunnarsson's long throw into the penalty area. Rooney was outjumped by Kari Arnason, whose flick-on left Ragnar Sigurdsson to equalise.

That was bad, but it was to get worse.

Dele Alli and Harry Kane both went close to restoring England's lead before Hart's calamitous error gifted Iceland a second on 19 minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson found space and fed the loosely marked Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, whose side-foot shot was hardly a thunderbolt, but still beat Hart.

England were simply abject as they chased the game, with Kane playing as though drained of all energy.

Hodgson knew the game was up long before the whistle, waiting until it was far too late for Marcus Rashford to make a difference. But England's Euro 2016 is over, their reputation is gone and so has Hodgson.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph