When I read about Roy Hodgson’s appointment as the new England manager I was hoping my calendar said April 1st not May 1st. This news would have been ideal on April Fool’s Day. Now, I have nothing against senior citizens. I believe they’re a major reason why Britain is prefixed by the word Great. But I don’t really feel one of them should be managing the nation’s football team, regardless of how 70-year-old Alex Ferguson does with Manchester United.
Football is basically a young-man's game these days and the times have changed greatly since Hodgson played and last won anything. He couldn’t handle the big egos at Liverpool and failed miserably and he’s going to have his hands full with even bigger egos with England. You can argue this point by saying Kenny Dalglish has failed on Merseyside too, and he has. He’s another manager who has seemingly failed to keep up with the times.
Hodgson’s never done anything in the last decade to impress me. Sure, he had a decent run in the Europa Cup one year, but that’s it. He might have done well many moons ago while overseas, but has been a big bust in England. His winning percentage with Blackburn was 34.6 per cent, at Fulham it was 34 and with Liverpool it was 35. He brought it up a notch at West Brom and has managed to win 37.5 per cent of games managed there.
Needless to say, all of the English teams he’s managed allowed more goals per game on average than they scored. His teams have never scored at a higher rate than 1.37 goals per game, which Blackburn managed to achieve, but they also let in the most at 1.42. I’ve heard many people complain that Hodgson’s too defensive, and it’s true, but he’s still not successful at it.
West Brom sits a mediocre 10th place in the league this season with 46 points from 13 wins, seven draws, and 16 losses. I don’t know of any league in the world where this could be considered a success. Winning 13 out of 36 games so far just doesn’t cut it; neither does attaining 46 points out of a possible 108. That means 62 points have been dropped along the way. In total, he’s won 119 out of 308 matches with West Brom, Fulham, Blackburn, and Liverpool, for a winning percentage of 38.64 per cent.
Technically, West Brom could still move up a couple of positions in the remaining two games of the season, but they could also drop by as many as four spots. They’ve managed no wins against the Premier League’s top four clubs this season, but managed to edge fifth-place Newcastle away 3-2 just before Christmas and pulled off a 1-0 win in early March at home against Chelsea.
Other fans have claimed the FA simply chose Hodgson because he’s out of contract with West Brom in a few weeks and no compensation will be needed to be paid to them. But even if you are going to sign this guy, why on earth would you commit to a four-year contract? This means he’s in charge for Euro 2012, the 2014 World Cup, and Euro 2016. There’s no need to sign anybody, let alone Hodgson, to anything longer than a two-year deal.
If he fails it’s going to cost millions of pounds just to get rid of him. There’s no doubt Hodgson has a fine resume on the continent, but he’s going to be dealing strictly with English players from now on. And even though there’s been a huge influx of foreign players in the EPL over the past decade, he simply hasn’t had any success managing English-based teams.
But even overseas he lasted just five months with Italian side Udinese in 2001 and was sacked by the United Arab Emirates after a fifth-place finish in the Gulf Cup. Hodgson’s best days were clearly 30 years ago and he’s done nothing to prove otherwise to me since then. He’s managed 18 teams over the 36 years he’s been managing, which shows me he’s either in it just for the money or simply isn’t good enough and that's why he's constantly let go by his bosses.
While I have the right to criticize Hodgson for his recent performance I can't criticize him for taking the job or for anything beyond. I do criticize the FA for hiring him though, especially to the four-year contract. If he gets results and does well in the first two years, fine, then give him a two-year extension. But looking at his winning percentage in England, and his overall performance over the past 12 years I don’t really understand what the FA based their decision on.
I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how he does and what his team selections will be and more importantly how he utilizes the players he chooses. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the Gunners' trio of Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fit into his plans and what becomes of Jack Wilshere once he’s healthy.
The only statistic that matters in any sport is the standings and we'll see where England finishes up in Euro 2012 and World Cup qualifying. I hope I’m dead wrong here and Hodgson turns out to be the best manager England’s ever had. But I just don’t see it unless the players finally live up to all their hype and potential....and what are the odds of that?