Roy Hodgson: not who England want, but perhaps what they need
By Oliver Sparrow, writing from London
So, the FA have finally got their man. The man they have been so patiently waiting for. The man everyone loves. The man doing so well in the Premier League. The man so obviously the right choice for the England job – Roy Hodgson.
“What!?” – I hear you cry. That’s right, Roy Hodgson. The FA have refused to be harangued by old ‘Arry’s chums in the media. They’ve even ignored the unbounded tweeting wisdom of Messrs Ferdinand and Rooney. Instead of the knee-jerk appointment of Harry Redknapp which so many expected, and perhaps desired, they have taken a measured approach, thought carefully, and hired the man who they believe fits the bill.
It’s not the big statement, marquee managerial appointment that was widely expected. Then again, where has that got England in the past? Keegan was brought in in 1999 to inject some passion and vibrancy. Misguided passion translated into poor results and bad tactics. Sven was brought in to replace Keegan. A calm Scandinavian head to steady the ship. Eventually the press along with the FA grew tired of poor old Sven, despite fairly decent results, and appointed his English understudy Steve McClaren. This short-sighted appointment resulted in the Wally with the brolly failing to even qualify for Euro 2008. By then it really was time for a change. Bring on Fabio Capello – the man whose mantelpiece isn’t long enough to hold all of his winners’ medals. Surely if he can’t guide England to success, no-one can… Turned out the players didn’t much care for his regimented approach. Not having a firm grasp of the English language probably didn’t help, either.
Using the same reactionary logic, the next manager should be an Englishman who the press and the players get on with – Harry Redknapp. He seemed nailed-on. The man who all the players seem to adore. The man to bring back some passion and enthusiasm to the dressing room. Not the entirely more reserved Hodgson, whose star had dramatically faded after a torrid tenure at the helm of an ailing Liverpool side. Hodgson is the logical choice, though…
Plenty to Enjoy at the Women’s World Cup
By Oliver Sparrow, writing from London.
In the words of my unimpressed girlfriend as she caught me hunched in front of the computer screen in my darkened front room: “Bloody hell. You must be desperate!”
And in a sense, I was. My girlfriend was disappointed, but I was starting to get football withdrawal symptoms. In a fallow summer devoid of any meaningful action for an avid England fan, I decided to tune in to the quarter-final of the Women’s World Cup in Germany between England and France – and I’m glad I did.
I’ll be honest – I’ve been more than a little critical of women’s football in general over the years. The women’s FA Cup final has often been on terrestrial TV, and I’ve tried to watch it a few times with little success. It seems like football, and it seems competitive, but just not competitive enough to will my legs to stop wandering into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and read the paper. But before I kick off a raging AFR battle of the sexes argument – this isn’t a sexist thing at all. It’s just that the standard of football in every women’s game I had watched prior to the match last night was a long way from that which I am used to when watching Premier League matches every weekend. Just as I would be loath to watch a Nationwide Conference game as opposed to a Premier League or La Liga clash, I quite frankly couldn’t be bothered to sit down and watch a top-level women’s game when there is a better level of football to be watched elsewhere. The quality on offer just hasn’t been high enough to hold my attention. I know I’m spoilt, but I’m a Manchester United fan living near London – what can you expect? If I was a ‘real’ fan I’d be watching my local team St Albans City battle it out in the Southern Premier League (two leagues below the conference), but you’re probably more likely to find me down the local with a pint, watching the Premier League on Sky Sports. What a sham I am.