Roy Hodgson was asked one more time on Tuesday night whether, having presided over England’s World Cup group stage exit with just a single point, he would consider resigning – especially in light of the decision made by the Italy manager, Cesare Prandelli.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, he can expect more of this in the coming months if the Euro 2016 qualification does not unfold as planned. For the time being he looks like a man in need of a rest and, when his key turned in his front door in Surrey this morning, it must have been a relief to step out of the public glare and into the private sphere for the first time since he embarked on England’s unhappy mission.
As has been the case since England’s elimination was confirmed on Friday, Hodgson stood his ground. Hanging in there grimly is pretty much the only option open to an England manager under fire in this way. He worked out five days’ ago that the upbeat hopes for young players and progress are so many pebbles thrown into the Atlantic Ocean at the moment.
“He [Prandelli’s] been there a long time. I told you the other day and I’ve nothing more to add,” Hodgson said. “The FA have asked me to continue. They want me to continue. I’m very happy that they want me to continue.
“I think there is an interesting group of players here to work with. I get no feeling whatsoever that any of them will want me to resign. I have no reason to do so. I have no intention to do so. I think I’ve stood up to the criticism, to the comments and that’s as much as I can do. I don’t want to be compared to other people. The reason I’m staying on is that I’m not a quitter. I believe in this team and that the FA seriously want me to keep doing this job, as do the players. So therefore I will continue to do it and I’ll try and lead the team to Euro 2016 and try to get some good results.”
In England’s wake come the usual recriminations: the 72-strong FA staff, the size of Hodgson’s salary relative to that of his Costa Rican counterpart, Jorge Luis Pinto, the chauffeur-driven cars that picked them up yesterday from the flight that stopped off at Manchester and Luton. The problem for the FA is that if it fails to treat the World Cup with the utmost professionalism it would reap a whirlwind. Fail and the players looked spoilt. The governing body is damned either way. It is the same story with every tournament failure.
It is a measure of the support that the FA has for Hodgson that there will be no official inquest into the failings at the 2014 World Cup. This time four years ago, Fabio Capello, by contrast, was dangling by a thread while Sir Dave Richards, of all people, headed the committee that would decide the fate of a Champions League winner. At least the FA has nailed its colours to the mast this time, for better or worse.
It was a tired and faintly embarrassed parade of English footballers that emerged from the changing rooms at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday night. This was the opportunity for a different set of players to proffer the same kind of apologies. “It’s not good enough, we know that,” Phil Jones said. “We can’t say any more than that now. We just have to look forward and there are some positives and there are some negatives as well. We have to go home and reflect on what has been probably a tournament to forget.”
That particular metaphor mix-up might be the best epithet for England’s failings. It is a bold new step for English football to trust that out of the worst can come improvement – provided the FA holds its nerve and sticks by its man. It is a personal view that it is worth persevering with. Just as it was a pity that Capello left the job before he got the chance to put into practice at Euro 2012 what he had learnt at the 2010 World Cup.
“It’s easy for me to stand here and say: ‘We’re young, we can go forward,’” Jack Wilshere said. “But if you look at Germany, a team like that, they’ve got young players who are delivering now. Time is running out for us to say we’re young any more. I’m 22, Ross [Barkley] and Luke [Shaw] and Raheem [Sterling] are young players. They showed in this tournament what they can do. But in the next tournament, we really have to deliver.”
The last word went to Luke Shaw, one of the few English successes. Why couldn’t English football produce more like him? “There is only one way that that’s going to happen and that is if people are playing week in, week out in the best league in the world. I think it has benefited me, the likes of Raheem and Ross, so why can’t other clubs do that?” He has a point.Reuse content