Should Roy Stick Or Twist?
|BettingExpert/Betfair Euro 2012 blog correspondent entry profile|
|Will Taylor is the founder of the Unusedsub blog as well as being a contributor to Footballfancast.com|
|Twitter : @theunusedsub|
|Website : Unusedsub.wordpress.com|
If every managerial job in modern football is considered a ‘hot seat’, the office of the England head coach must be situated in the nearest sauna. Hmm, just two lines into this article and I’ve already conjured up the image of Roy Hodgson wearing nothing but a towel. Not the best start but spare a thought for our new fearless leader, who upon his appointment was ridiculed for his barely discernible speech impediment, his physical similarity to various woodland creatures and perhaps most bizarrely, for not being Harry Redknapp.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, even if he manages to escape the piercing glare of the media spotlight, he’s likely to find himself shuddering under the thousands of expectant fans breathing down his neck. The first opportunity for scrutiny will arrive on Wednesday, when the 23-man squad destined for the European Championships will be revealed, then dissected, analysed and spat back out by the nations press. Nevertheless his selections will signal the dawn of a new era, whether he’ll stick with the seasoned professionals or put his faith in the stars of tomorrow.
If the recently concluded season has taught us anything, it’s that there is still life in the old ‘Drog’ yet. The old guard at Chelsea have been mesmerising under Roberto Di Matteo and forced many journalists to scurry back to their desks, desperate to retract that statement where they’d written them off. Despite their many faults, there is simply no substitute for the wealth of experience that the likes of Terry, Lampard and Cole all possess. They’ve proved time and time again that they can perform at the highest level and seem determined not to be removed from their position as the foundations of the national side.
Hodgson will undoubtedly want to avoid rocking the boat further by casting aside the fan favourites, even if they were less than enthusiastic about his appointment. I can imagine Steven Gerrard put on his Balotelli inspired ‘why always me’ t-shirt when he heard the news that he would soon be reunited with his former boss.
Speaking of Italians, the Azzurri proved with their triumph at the 2006 World Cup, which boasted a squad ripe with golden oldies that some things really do get better with age. Perhaps Hodgson could instruct Lampard from the playbook of Andrea Pirlo, adapting his style to pull the strings as a deep lying playmaker rather than the marauding attacker his legs reluctantly cope with. The veterans in the squad will also need to be as influential off the pitch, mentoring the younger players who may be overcome with the excitement or rather boredom of the daily routine during international tournaments.
However, in the aftermath of England’s frankly appalling appearance in the last World Cup, many fans have become disillusioned with a national team destined for failure. If Hodgson is to reinstate the belief in his fellow countryman then perhaps he could inject some excitement into the team by promoting our promising youngsters. Daniel Sturridge, Kyle Walker and Danny Welbeck have all excelled for their club this season but a question mark still remains over their potential inclusion on the plane heading to Poland and Ukraine this summer. Each of the aforementioned players harbour blistering pace and a tendency to take players on, which is what gets the Barmy Army off their seat.
The pessimists of the footballing world will be keen to point out that one season doesn’t reflect the stature of a player, and such young guns will no doubt fire blanks when placed in those intensified sudden death situations. Yet, it’s worth highlighting that Germany’s leading lights in South Africa, including the fleet footed Ozil and the resolute Khedira had won just a handful of caps between them. Thomas Muller, the man who put England to the sword on his way to becoming the golden boot winner, had represented his country just twice before the competition. The hunger and desire of such adolescents, eager to make the transition from cub to lion, is perhaps the spark needed to reinvigorate England’s winning mentality.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into this distinction between old and young. Such a drastic focus on either age group would surely only derail a team who were undefeated during the qualifying stages. I would hate for Hodgson to bow down to public pressure by inviting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain along for the ride, especially as it would draw worrying comparisons with the Sven and Theo debacle of 2006. It’s also worth pointing out that no player should be included on past reputation rather than individual merit. Have Rio Ferdinand and Stewart Downing performed well enough to warrant their additions?
In my humble opinion, Hodgson should focus on incorporating the blossoming relationships we witness every week in the Premier League. Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck are the poster boys of the new attacking force at Old Trafford whilst Scott Parker will act as the calming and familiar influence for the young Kyle Walker. It’s vital that such rapports are utilised without creating a divide within the camp.
It’s often noted that people don’t like change, except of course in the world football, where one bad result will have us calling for the manager’s head. We can debate until the Emile Heskeys come home about whether Capello’s departure has hampered or recovered our quest for success on the International scene. The fact is that if the Germans don’t even need penalties to beat us anymore, then we need change, even if it means Hodgson gets his feathers ruffled as a result.
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