‘I didn’t see it coming,’ says fragile Roy Hodgson

The task of finding a new England manager will be far from straightforward

Roy Hodgson has said he did not see his side’s infamous defeat to Iceland coming. Photograph: Reuters

Roy Hodgson has said he did not see his side’s infamous defeat to Iceland coming. Photograph: Reuters

 

Towards the end of Brian Kerr’s time in charge of Ireland, he reacted angrily when he realised on one occasion that the photographers who followed the team were angling to catch a shot of him walking under a big exit sign.

A “fragile” Roy Hodgson looked to be beyond caring as he unwittingly handed his great parting gift to the English media in Chantilly. “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he admitted, more than once.

If twitter hadn’t been invented they might all have chanted something cruel back in unison about his last four years.

Statement

Hodgson’s resignation came so swiftly after the defeat by Iceland that it seemed as though his employers might have had the prepared statement he read at the post-match press conference ready before the game.

Certainly if the 68-year-old had been hoping that somebody might suggest he reconsider, he was to be disappointed.

Just about the only thing that people have been agreed on in relation to the team since he succeeded Fabio Capello was that he should go – well, that and how awful they were against Iceland on Monday.

Yet the divisions must start all over again as the task of finding his successor will not be a straightforward one.

The Football Association’s chief executive, Martin Glenn, who appeared along with Hodgson at the press conference at their training base to the northeast of Paris, said that the organisation would seek “the best person, not necessarily the best Englishman,” for the job, but a familiarity with the Premier League will be considered a distinct advantage.

And so the pool in which the the FA will first go fishing includes not only the usual suspects but also the likes of David Moyes, Roberto Martinez and Slaven Bilic.

Don’t be surprised if Martin O’Neill, who previously interviewed for the post but was said to have interviewed poorly, gets a mention.

Frontrunner

The early frontrunner appears to be Gareth Southgate, whose England playing career was followed by an unsuccessful period as Middlesbrough manager – they were relegated from the Premier League while he was in charge seven years ago – after which he joined the FA coaching staff and has worked with the country’s under-21 team.

They performed particularly poorly at last year’s European finals, winning just one of three group games, which might, of course, be seen as almost perfect preparation to take charge of the seniors.

Instead, it is his more recent success at a Toulon tournament that is being put forward as evidence of his suitability.

Toulon is a nice event but it has no official status, participation is by invitation, some countries field experimental sides and the matches are not even played over the full 90 minutes.

Also known as the “Tournoi Espoirs”, young players go looking to catch the eye but few coaches could be of a sufficiently hopeful disposition as to think winning the thing would get their country’s senior job.

Those whose preference is for an Englishman have been struggling to come up with alternatives, with Sam Allardyce heading up a list that includes former boss Glenn Hoddle and Alan Pardew.

Alan Shearer has suggested himself, and feels it is “not right” that the association had previously told him that his lack of coaching qualifications and very limited experience would count against him.

Still recovering

Hodgson, meanwhile, looked dejected, and admitted that he was “still recovering” from the events of the night before.

“I am very fragile today, it was not a good night for anyone,” he said, forgetting, understandably perhaps, about the Icelanders.

Ever the decent human being, Hodgson, when presented with the opportunity to blame his players for the humiliation at one point by a questioner, politely declined, insisting that they had done their best but simply failed to perform on the night.

“I didn’t see the defeat coming. Nothing in the first three games we played here gave me any indication that we would play as poorly as we did last night, but we did.

“We go home as losers,” the former West Brom and Liverpool boss continued, with that “wretched record” in the knockout stages of this competition – just one win ever, and that on home soil in 1996 – “still standing”.

His own record makes for pretty grim reading too with just three wins from 11 games at major tournaments, including the World Cup in Brazil where they failed to get out of a group that was won by Costa Rica.

Somehow, though, it is hard to imagine that that failure will even get much of a mention when his tenure is reflected upon in years to come.

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