SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: A ‘coward’ who departed two years too late

Roy Hodgson.

Roy Hodgson.

13
Have your say

His friends say Roy Hodgson is a smart man.

Hodgson can speak fluently in several languages apparently. Pity football-speak is beyond him.

Iceland celebrate their win over England.

Iceland celebrate their win over England.

Hodgson was a disastrous appointment in the first place. He should then have been sacked after England’s last World Cup campaign lasted two matches.

At least England lost to two decent sides back then. Hodgson, an intelligent man remember, clearly learnt nothing as this time he’s set up teams to draw with two dreadful sides, score a last-minute winner to beat a limited outfit and then lose to Iceland. Yes Iceland. A country with the same population as Croydon, a team Peterborough United could beat with a decent following wind.

Hodgson was a man without a plan during the tournament, although some time was obviously given to preparing a resignation speech. Presumably even Hodgson finally realised stumbling about in the dark trying to find a way to shoe-horn players into a system that clearly didn’t suit their strengths was about to lead to the inevitable disaster.

It’s only right Hodgson quit, but even that act was poorly performed. Running away from the post-match press conference was the act of a coward, but neatly summed up the failure of anyone in charge to take responsibility when England were actually in the tournament.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart is understandably dejected.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart is understandably dejected.

Hodgson looked like a confused old man on the sidelines. He looked like he’d rather be visiting the French museums and art galleries he clearly loves than trying to explain why the dreadful Harry Kane was still taking pathetic set-pieces. His £3.5 million a year contract should have demanded he faced his critics and apologised for his incompetence before disappearing.

Did Hodgson forget how well England played in that pre-tournament friendly win Germany? He never played that line-up again. He retreated into his shell, his default position, and stopped trying to find a way to make a set of in-form strikers (well they were before the tournament) work successfully together.

Of course this wasn’t just Hodgson’s failure. It was a collective nightmare. Ray Lewington, - how on earth did this below average club manager get into such a key coaching position with the national team? - and Gary Neville - whose reputation has been busted completely in Valencia and France - have rightly gone. Neville has proved being an excellent pundit is no preparation for first-team coaching. He would have had fun in his previous life dissecting England’s failure to defend the long throw that created Iceland’s first goal. Unfortunately defensive coaching was probably his job.

Sadly Neville’s failure hasn’t stopped another professional pundit Alan Shearer applying publicly for Hodgson’s post. Good idea, Peter Crouch can be his assistant.

Skipper Wayne Rooney, who is now so far past his sell-by date at the top level he’s become a plodding embarrassment, should follow them into the international wilderness, as should the Football Association bods directly involved in Hodgson’s initial appointment and, more appallingly, in retaining him after the Brazil World Cup.

England’s players obviously can’t avoid blame either. The fans were right at the end of last night’s (June 27) game, they weren’t fit to wear the shirt. It’s not losing to Championship-standard opposition that hurts necessarily, it’s the manner of defeat. The acceptance that players paid six-figure weekly salaries can’t be expected to trap a ball, pass it accurately over five yards, or even run around a little bit was scary.

They were probably befuddled by their dozy boss, but there was enough ability and experience on that pitch to work out a way to take Iceland to penalties, even if Jack Wilshere was introduced 45 minutes too early, and Marcus Rashford introduced 45 minutes too late.

For all the dramatic collapses onto the turf at the end of the final whistle last night, I’m not even sure the players care enough. They’ll all be abroad within days, living a life of luxury, while the rest of us spend the next month avoiding gloating Welshmen.

So where do England go from here? Sadly there appears no easy fix. England have a no-mark technical director in Dan Ashworth, a man who has risen without trace with alarming speed through the football ranks. One minute he’s directing football operations at mighty West Brom, the next he’s running the country’s coaching set-up.

Ashworth can doubtless deliver a great lecture and Powerpoint presentation, but is he really the best we can do? I wouldn’t recognise him if he walked past me in the street. If I did I’d ask him why he thinks Ade ‘Hoofball’ Boothroyd is coaching one of England’s youth teams. Apart from being a mate of the boss, what other qualifications does Boothroyd, a failed Northampton Town manager remember, possess?

Gareth Southgate, another Ashworth man, is now favourite to become the next England manager. That sound is a barrel being scraped.

I don’t like foreign coaches of international sides - in fact it shouldn’t be allowed - but losing to Iceland is a big enough shock to make me change my opinion.

I’d ask Slaven Bilic if he’s interested. I doubt he would accept the lack of passion on show last night.

If not we should find an available part-time dentist.