The big news, which I’ve heretofore ignored as it made my head spin, is Roy Hodgson’s appointment as England manager. Never mind the Redknapp or speech impediment or press idiocy angles, what does this actually mean for England at Euro 2012?
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how Roy’s early career directly influenced Sven-Göran Eriksson so all things being equal I’d expect something similar here. Sven essentially used Roy methods to become what he was, so let’s have a look at how he did at tournaments:
2002 – quite well, drawing with Sweden, beating the Argies, drawing with Nigeria, beating Denmark easily then losing unfortunately to Brazil.
At Euro 2004 England threw away a good situation against France, then beat Switzerland and Croatia. They lost on pens to Portugal.
At the 2006 World Cup England withdrew into themselves, beating Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago, drawing with Sweden then beating Ecuador in the knockouts. Then Portugal happened again.
In short, we beat the sorts of teams we’d expect to beat, managed the occasional good result (Argentina and Denmark in 2002, Croatia in 2004), but the odd disappointment (we were awful in 2006 and messed up 2004 despite what might have been England’s best opportunity to really kick on).
Hodgson will know what he wants to do and will presumably be able to implement this reasonably effectively. I know we talk about him needing time to get his methods across but he’s been a successful international manager before and can be again. One issue might be the Liverpool factor, in which star players found his approach slightly beneath them, but at this point what are they going to do? It’s one thing sulking in club football; international football is different, especially at tournament level. Hodgson can be firm when he needs to be and I imagine he’ll more or less get what he wants.
And you can see how that might be enough. The group is not soft but not hard, and I imagine we might be able to negotiate France, Sweden and Ukraine (although we might not! The margins are so fine), and then we get to the interesting part.
As Fulham manager Hodgson steered the club past better teams to reach the Europa League final. Sure there was luck along the way, but the success was built on the shape and determination that he’ll surely be aiming for here. So if we do qualify in second and face Spain in the knockouts, well let’s face it, Spain wouldn’t be that happy to be facing a well drilled 4-4-2 would they? It’s exactly the sort of setup that seems to be able to undo Spain/Barca type approaches. After that, anything’s possible.
So while I am frightened for Roy and will try to avoid newspapers during the tournament, I do think he can be successful. What do you reckon?
And if you are interested in betting on the tournament, England are around 10/1, which seems about right to me. I’ll see if I can find a spare fiver…