When Fabio Capello relinquished his position as England manager at the beginning of February many personalities in the game, fans and players alike, only ever had one replacement in mind.
He wasn’t Roy Hodgson. Wayne Rooney immediately took to twitter when Capello announced his resignation and made his feelings very clear. “Gutted capello has quit. Good guy and top coach. Got to be English to replace him. Harry Redknapp for me.”
England’s stand out star player is allowed his say and he obviously hadn’t forecasted Hodgson’s chances, but it does deliver a clear message as to how disoriented the England set up is. This is the same Rooney who so absentmindedly decided to foul a Montenegro player from behind in England’s last qualifier subsequently leaving him banned for the first two games of what’s looking to be quite a tricky group stage.
Not surprisingly Rio Ferdinand pitched in and expressed his feelings in even clearer terms than his Manchester United teammate “I think we need an English manager now, we don’t need anything else lost in translation….Harry Redknapp would be my choice by a distance.”
Considering the defenders treatment with regards to the captaincy over the years you can understand where he is coming from. Ferdinand and the captaincy were made to look like a dysfunctional relationship by Capello and it obviously dented the defenders confidence. So much so that matters off the pitch are being talked about so comfortably within the social realms of twitter. Again, like Rooney, Redknapp is endorsed. Not Hodgson.
Not surprisingly the rest of the nation has been left shell shocked by the absence of Redknapp and presence of Hodgson as the favourite to lead England to Euro 2012. The bet is that Rooney and Ferdinand feel the same way too.
But this is exactly English footballs problem. The England managers’ job, much like every top flight position in the country, is more a popularity contest than one based on a skill set that years of experience can vouch for. It’s more about how you walk the walk and talk the talk on the back pages than delivering stability and security behind closed doors.
Henry Winter, the Telegraphs chief football correspondent, could not have put it any better when he wrote in his Hodgson-for-England column. “Roy is a broadsheet man in a tabloid world.”
It’s that same tabloid world that Hodgson caught himself embroiled in during his time on Merseyside. Liverpool was always going to be a tough job, Kenny Dalglish or not, and the local press never shied away from letting him know exactly what they thought.
Even Daniel Agger, his own player, told Danish television how unhappy he was at not being in the team and, to Hodgson’s own disliking, how Liverpool were turning into ‘a long ball team’. But nobody cares to recollect that experience with the fact that the club was dealing with its own crisis at the time. One that in overcoming is still proving to be a difficult job as Kenny Dalglish languishes in eight position with two games to go in the league.
Hodgson didn’t do a fantastic job at Liverpool. That much is granted. But the club was in a spot of bother before he arrived and the domestic front since his departure makes anything but pleasant reading.
There’s no doubting the magnitude of the job the former Internazionale manager will have in hand once the FA announce him as Capello’s replacement. Getting the media, fans and most importantly the players on side is something he couldn’t accomplish at Anfield. Before he has even taken charge of his first game at Wembley, England’s faithful fear the same Mersey misery. Especially when Redknapp seemed the unrivalled choice.
Redknapp is a hero in North London. White Hart Lane is a lot closer to Wembley than the Hawthorne’s. Harry makes people laugh whereas Roy prefers to operate a little more seriously. But who is ready for the international stage? Some might say Redknapp’s laissez-faire attitude bodes well for any environment.
But does a solitary FA Cup trophy in three decades of football management justify the countries widespread vindication for him and the condemnation directed at Hodgson?
The West Brom boss led Switzerland to the last 16 at the USA 1994 World Cup. He has experience with the United Arab Emirates and Finland. Hodgson has been around the world. Literally. In that time Redknapp has overseen relegation battles with Southampton, West Ham and Portsmouth.
Yet the odds are stacked heavily against Hodgson and heavily in favour of Harry. But in the end, it is the FA who makes the kind of decisions that have left the nation cringing over the last decade and it looks like England will be left feeling distasteful all the way to the moment England kick-off against France in Donetsk on the 11th of June.
But sooner or later everyone involved in the game has to realise that football isn’t just about popularity, how well you talk in front of the cameras and how much a player tweets about you.
These are all important elements though and Harry Redknapp is a great manager. He is English, he sees the job as the pinnacle of football management and he enjoys support from many involved in the game. He is an outstanding candidate. But he isn’t the only one.
You can follow Esam on Twitter @esamsultan
Published with permission from Premiership Flavour.