England manager Roy Hodgson's to-do list for 2013...

England coach masterminded Brazil win, but his World Cup qualification team is far from settled. Sam Wallace offers some advice

It is a year to the day since Fabio Capello quit the England job over the Football Association's decision to remove the captaincy from John Terry, sending the FA into crisis-mode. It was almost three months until Roy Hodgson was appointed his successor. In the meantime, the general consensus was that Euro 2012 was a write-off, and the best a new man could do was to limit the damage.

A year on from Capello's departure, Hodgson this week became the first England manager to beat Brazil since Bobby Robson. He has overseen 13 matches, navigated a difficult Euro 2012, but drawn twice in four 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Wednesday night was arguably his best moment so far as England manager and a good portent for a difficult year ahead.

Build a regular team

It irritates Hodgson when he is reminded that he has used 45 different players in 13 games. Chris Smalling was the 45th, playing for the first time under Hodgson on Wednesday night. He points out that he had to take a look at his options. This week he was blessed with a relatively injury-free squad, allowing him to pick a powerful side that outfought Brazil in many departments.

Hodgson has looked at just about every option at his disposal and the expectation is that now he will try to pick a more settled team – although international football does not always permit managers that luxury.

As usual, some players have emerged under Hodgson as new stalwarts of the team. He is an admirer of the group from Manchester United. Against Brazil, Smalling went straight in ahead of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. Tom Cleverley is another favourite, playing on Wednesday in the No 10 position which Hodgson likes him in. Danny Welbeck has started eight of the 13 games for which Hodgson has been in charge.

There are the team-sheet certainties – Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere and Glen Johnson. The rest is up for grabs. Wednesday was just Theo Walcott's second start under Hodgson. Then there are the likes of Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner competing for the wide positions. Clearly, the greatest uncertainty is in central defence.

Sort out the centre of defence

Gary Cahill's error for Brazil's equaliser after half-time was unfortunate for the Chelsea man, who had enjoyed a decent first half. Cahill has 13 caps now and played in the Champions League with Chelsea but, having served a long international apprenticeship of late call-ups and match days in the stand, he has still not made the place his own. So far Hodgson has picked six different defensive pairings in 13 games. Much of the time that has been enforced by injury. The only consistency the team has had was during Euro 2012 when Lescott and Terry were the settled defensive partnership. Since then Terry has retired and Lescott has lost his regular place in the Manchester City team.

What Hodgson is not prepared to do is bring back Rio Ferdinand, even though the 34-year-old is ahead of Smalling in the pecking order at Manchester United. "I'm not going to talk about Rio," was Hodgson's blunt answer when the possibility of recalling him to the fold was raised on Wednesday night.

Hodgson left Ferdinand out the Euro 2012 squad partly on the grounds that he said he could not expect a player of that experience to sit on the bench. That, however, is exactly what Frank Lampard, older than Ferdinand, has done and is proving effective. But Hodgson is not for budging and there seems more to this one than meets the eye.

Deal with the Under-21 row

It would not be the FA and the England team if there was not a row brewing somewhere. The European Under-21 Championship in Israel this summer is yet another potential source of friction as clubs lobby for players who have already featured in the senior team – such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Phil Jones and Wilfried Zaha – not to play in the tournament.

Although eligible, it is hard to imagine Wilshere being called up and, ultimately, this is not Hodgson's problem directly. Stuart Pearce is the Under-21 manager, although with no FA contract beyond the summer and his past form for making big selection calls (see Walcott in 2009 and David Beckham's exclusion for London 2012) there is no telling who he might select.

Hodgson will have to keep an eye on the situation because it will affect his relationship with club managers. Naturally, he will wish to take a strong side to Rio de Janeiro on 2 June for the return friendly against Brazil.

After Wednesday's game, Hodgson anticipated that Sir Alex Ferguson would be unhappy about Welbeck and Cleverley's involvement, although both were substituted. "I do try and talk to them [club managers] and make certain I let them know my thoughts," he said. But a large part of the reason why England beat Brazil was because key players remained on the pitch. It was a welcome departure.

Navigate a tough schedule

It might be the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations but that does not make it any easier for Hodgson when he looks at the fixture list. He has overcome the first hurdle in style but there are more to come. None more critical than the second World Cup qualifier in March against Montenegro in Podgorica that follows the qualifier away to San Marino four days earlier.

There is no relenting in the friendlies, either. England will be expected to beat the Republic of Ireland at Wembley in May and then Scotland in August before the domestic season kicks off. They may not be opposition high in the Fifa rankings but they have great motivation to spoil the party. Defeat in either of those games, or even a poor performance, will increase pressure on England. In fact, the least pressure will be when England play Brazil in Rio in June. No one expects them to win there.

Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is integral to the FA – and not just for the obvious reasons. This is the first test of the new "Club England" set-up, running the national team in splendid isolation within the FA. It also falls within the first year of St George's Park's existence, the 150th anniversary celebrations and the appointment of a successor to chairman David Bernstein.

Failure to make it to Brazil next summer would be a dreadful blow, especially as the FA moves into a new era in the hope that it can plan for the long term with Hodgson, who has very much bought into the organisation's aims. The memory of Capello's abrupt departure is still fresh.

Brazil bashing: Views from back home

Folha de Sao Paulo

Brazil's biggest-selling newspaper pulled no punches by noting that their national side had not defeated a World Cup-winning nation for three years.

O Globo

"Little movement in attack and defensive failures" were highlighted by Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo, but praised Chelsea's Oscar and Queen's Park Rangers' Julio Cesar for their performances.

Jornal do Brasil

The Jornal described Neymar's performance as "unrecognisable", saying that the young star has failed to make an impact in the most important games.

O Correio Braziliense

As well as picking out Neymar for his quiet night, the newspaper was also disappointed with Ronaldinho's return to the side, and conceded that England were "slightly superior" overall at Wembley.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?