Football: Future of Hoddle in the balance
Football: Stockholm setback increases pressure on England coach as Shearer expresses concern over bad publicity
If Hoddle's entrance was spectacular, a stunning volleyed goal from 20 yards announcing his talent, his exit would be just as dramatic. There is no sign that the Football Association would sack him but growing indications that, should the result go against him, he may quit.
On Saturday, in the wake of England's 2-1 defeat to Sweden in Stockholm, he walked out of a press conference when asked if he could refute speculation that he would be interested in the newly-vacant Tottenham job.
Yesterday he did so, but it was hardly a ringing declaration of intent. "I've a contract for the next two years and there are talks around the corner about a new one," he said. For a man who claims to have dreamed of being England manager since he was 12 it was a low-key affirmation of his pride in the job.
Should Hoddle leave, Tottenham, who are thought to be more interested in George Graham, is an unlikely destination. The club is in a far worse shape than England and, as Ossie Ardiles, Gerry Francis and Christian Gross found out, the media spotlight, being on a daily basis, is no less intent.
If Hoddle goes it will be to an overseas post. But should he go? Though Saturday's performance was poor it is too early to call for his departure. Equally it is premature for the FA to try to extend his contract. While England still have every prospect of qualifying for the finals there are worrying signs.
The most serious is that, increasingly, it is the players, as well as the press and public, who have reservations about his judgement. Tony Adams has already expressed doubts and Alan Shearer, a man who chooses his words carefully, is clearly unhappy about the manager's contribution to the recent bad publicity surrounding the team. Late Saturday night he suggested it may have contributed to the defeat.
"I couldn't understand how it all went wrong during the game but I don't think all the crap that went on beforehand helped," he said. "I mean all the stuff about books and all the publicity. It didn't affect me because my skin is thick, but it may have affected others. One thing is for sure, it certainly didn't help. In the circumstances this was the worst possible result. We could have killed off all of this and instead we have allowed it to continue."
More supportively, Shearer added: "We can expect fierce criticism and we deserve it. We can't complain about all the things that will be said, the players have to take responsibility, too. We are a unit and the players are behind the manager. We have to take things on the chin.
"I just hope nobody presses the panic button. It is very important that nobody should react without thinking. It would be crazy to start making wrong decisions. I wish we could play on Saturday and get this out of our system, instead we have a long wait which will allow all the nonsense to build up again."
The build-up to the Bulgaria game will not be helped by the controversy about Paul Ince's behaviour on Saturday and more forthcoming books by Teddy Sheringham and Eileen Drewery. There may also be problems from Tottenham, once they have sorted out their own problems, about the condition of Darren Anderton.
Anderton was injured just after Sweden went ahead and Hoddle said: "As soon as he did it we all knew on the bench there was a possibility it was a cartilage or ligament. Yet Anderton, who had a scan yesterday, was allowed to carry on for another eight minutes before coming off, time in which he could further have damaged his injury. Hoddle said he wanted to try to continue, but if the injury was that obvious he should not have been allowed to.
Hoddle admitted that if Anderton failed to recover in time for next month's match with Bulgaria choosing his midfield would be "a major concern". David Beckham and Ince are suspended and David Batty, because of domestic suspension and injury, unlikely to be match-fit. There may also be further injuries before 10 October.
After Hoddle's debut goal he was dropped for England's next match, Ron Greenwood, the then-manager, declaring that "young players had to learn to live with disappointment". He has had plenty of disappointments since but now hopes that another meeting with Bulgaria will not provide the biggest one of all.
Latest in Sport
Radamel Falcao exclusive: Forward says joining Manchester United is a 'dream come true'
Danny Welbeck to Arsenal: Arsene Wenger pictured in Rome as club close in on Manchester United striker for £17m
Radamel Falcao analysis: Manchester United have signed a top talent yet to hit his stride
Danny Welbeck signs for Arsenal: Gunners confirm signing of striker from Manchester United
Radamel Falcao to Manchester United: Louis van Gaal takes transfer spend beyond £140m - SIXTH most of any Premier league manager
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...
£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...
£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...