Monday, April 30, 2012

Why Roy Hodgson - and not Harry Redknapp-is the right man for England



This piece of mine appears in The Week/The First Post.

Neil Clark: Hodgson can appeal to fans who want a passionate Englishman and those who demand a cerebral continental.



A FEW Sundays ago my wife and I and other family members went out for the afternoon to the picturesque Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water. In the car park I saw a man, elegantly dressed, studiously reading the information board about the area. I recognised the man, but other passer-bys didn't. It was Roy Hodgson, a Premier League manager, who instead of spending that Sunday afternoon watching the football on Sky, had decided to do what we had done, and go to visit a place of interest. How many other Premier League managers - caught up in the all-consuming world of top-flight football - would have done likewise?

You can read the whole of the article here.

UPDATE: It's official. Roy Hodgson is the new England manager. 

6 comments:

Robin Carmody said...

Although we have crossed several swords recently, I absolutely agree with every word you say here.

It is the alienation of English football culture from the rest of the football world (i.e. everywhere except the rest of the "Anglosphere") which has been the long-term tragedy of the England team. The fact that the Mail sees Hodgson as a threat sums up precisely why he is necessary; you do not beat more technically skilled teams simply by kicking them and invoking xenophobic redtop rhetoric. There is no way any team managed by Redknapp could have done what Chelsea did in Barcelona last week; they would have been far too undisciplined, far too up-and-at-'em. The petty little thug John Terry would have been not the exception but the norm.

Chelsea needed the Italian structure and order of their manager to get the best out of their English players' fairly limited skills, just as Fulham would have been knocked out early in the 2009/10 Europa League with the same players but a Sun/Mail-friendly manager. Redknapp's contempt for the Europa League this season sums up why he would have been such a disaster; the football world isn't where Buddy Holly or Carole King or whoever came from, so it's not real for him, an unknowable abstract. And you can only defeat people from a different culture if you understand that culture, if it is as real for you as the culture you see in your home town or the one you see on Sky One. Hodgson, uniquely among English managers, has that understanding of the rest of the football world which is the key to success.

More than anything else, though, this is the single biggest sign yet in British mass culture that the Murdoch era is nearing its end. A year ago, they'd have been far too scared of the Sun and the rest of the tabloids seeing Hodgson as Not Like Them and gone for Redknapp or Pearce just for the sake of a quiet life - and then, no doubt, chosen another Capello figure when England inevitably crashed out of Brazil 2014. Now, that fear has slipped away; the people who once dictated what the England team could be stand exposed, humiliated, their power shrivelling almost to nothing. As an end-of-empire moment, it's the closest thing yet to "Long Tall Sally" going Top 3 within a few months of Suez.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Robin,

Good to hear from you. Great post from you & pleased you liked the article.

As I said in the piece, we get the best of both worlds with Roy Hodgson. Yes, he's a patriotic Englishman, but he's also someone who is continental in his approach. His record in European competitions is quite excellent: who else could have taken Fulham to a European final?


"you can only defeat people from a different culture if you understand that culture, if it is as real for you as the culture you see in your home town or the one you see on Sky One. Hodgson, uniquely among English managers, has that understanding of the rest of the football world which is the key to success."

Brilliantly put.

"More than anything else, though, this is the single biggest sign yet in British mass culture that the Murdoch era is nearing its end. "

Yes. And Hodgson's appointment comes on the day that Murdoch suffered another big blow with the Culture Committee report.

Douglas said...

This discussion is way over my head, but I believe you would be proud of me for being familiar with Chelsea striker Fernando Torres when I read about the Chelsea-Barcelona match to get into the Champions League final.

There was a ManU-Chelsea match on the morning (in the US) of February 5, the Sunday of the Super Bowl. I am using your football post to repeat my request for EPL matches on Super Bowl Sunday to be established as a tradition.

I was told on Facebook that it was curious that Bayern Munich was called Bayern Munich instead of Bayern Munchen or Bavaria Munich.

I hope Roy Hodgson is as successful as you believe he will be.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Douglas,
Very proud of you for being familiar with Torres!
Are you following any U.S. players in the Premier League? Clint Dempsey has had a great season for Fulham.

Robin Carmody said...

Douglas,

you probably don't know this - an amazing number of people here don't - but the EPL in its current form only really *exists* because of the influence and effect of the gridiron game in Britain during the 1980s.

Alas, as with US influence more generally, we took all the bad bits and none of the good (the good being the NFL's quasi-socialist structure and strong union power).

John Edwards said...

Hodgson is a great choice for the reasons you set out. I recall that when the footballer and convicted violent thug Marlon King was released from prison Hodgson was the only figure in English football to point out that the question of allowing King back into football was "a moral issue". Exactly so and this showed he had some understanding of real life outside football. I hope Hodgson is successful and not destroyed by the tabloids.