So Roy Hodgson is likely to be appointed England manager ahead of the European Championship. The FA admitted as much on Sunday when they confirmed they had received permission to speak with the current West Bromwich Albion boss about the national team job, and given that the 64-year-old has paid his dues at 19 posts in nine countries over the course of a distinguished 36-year career no one should have been all that surprised.
But this is the England job we’re talking about, and neither logic nor levelheadedness has ever come into play when it’s been vacant.
Whether Hodgson was the first-choice candidate or not is irrelevant. Yes, Harry Redknapp was the early favourite among the press corps and a good many fans, and everyone from Alan Pardew to Stuart Pearce was linked with the position at some point as well. The FA, however, claimed to have not made an official approach until now, and there’s absolutely no reason to disbelieve them.
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that when compared to Hodgson, no English manager has a résumé that comes close. Nor, for the sake of argument, do many of the national team managers who will be participating at Euro 2012. Take England’s group for example.
Laurent Blanc, the French boss, won a league and cup double with Bordeaux in 2009 but has only been involved in management for five years, over which time he’s been in charge of only 170 matches. Sweden manager Erik Hamren has won a title each in Denmark and Norway. Ukraine’s Oleh Blokhin, while an outstanding player, has a pair of Greek cups to his name as a manager.
Even the manager of tournament favourites Germany—Joachim Low—doesn’t have a pedigree that rivals Hodgson’s. He has an Austrian championship to his name with Innsbruck and won the DfB Pokal with Stuttgart in 1997. Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk, meanwhile, won a Dutch cup and UEFA Cup with Feyenoord at the beginning of the last decade. Italy’s Cesare Prandelli has never won a major honour of any sort, but he took Hellas Verona and Venezia to promotion in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Croatia manager Slaven Bilic coached only 35 matches before his appointment and has no silverware to speak of.
I bring all of this into the discussion not to prove a point, but to ask a question: If not Hodgson, then who?
Reaction to the FA’s Sunday announcement (which, by the way, does not constitute an appointment) was as quick as it was overwhelmingly negative. For whatever reason, some pundits and fans got it into their heads that there was a star candidate at another club with titles and honours to his name who was just itching to take over the England job.
Again, the same question: who?
Did Pep Guardiola quit Barcelona to lead England on a memorably journey to international glory? Is Jose Mourinho merely buying his time until the FA give him that offer he so desperately craves? Is one of Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson just chomping at the bit to manage the Three Lions when the domestic season comes to a close?
In. Your. Dreams.
If the FA wanted an English manager to take the team to Euro 2012 they’ve approached the best man available.
Hodgson is a rarity among his countrymen in that he’s actually coached abroad, and successfully. He has managed three different national teams and took Switzerland to the knockout stages of the 1994 World Cup. He has also won exactly the same number of trophies as the seven Euro 2012 managers mentioned earlier. Combined.
Two of those managers, representing France and Germany, have considerably less experience than Hodgson and are nevertheless in charge of legitimate European contenders. The FA would have never, ever appointed a young, up-and-coming manager after the Steve McClaren disaster (sorry Stuart Pearce), so their options were already limited. And Tottenham’s £15 million compensation demands and an embarrassing recent tailspin took Redknapp out of the reckoning.
So again, I pose the same question. If not Hodgson, then who?
Follow Jerrad Peters on Twitter @peterssoccer