The Last Word: Hodgson the right man for the wrong job

New England manager is more of technical coach while Redknapp would have inspired the players

It was an admirable idea of the Football Association's to employ Roy Hodgson last week. Unfortunately, they may have chosen the wrong job.

The governing body are about to appoint a technical director, a hugely important position for any national federation serious about their football, yet one the FA have too often fudged or merely flirted with. At times the England manager either doubled up or shared the responsibilities; for years it was filled by either Charles "Position Of Maximum Opportunity" Hughes or Howard Wilkinson, coaches far keener on direct play than the manager of the time.

Since Wilkinson left for Sunderland in 2002, it has not been filled on a permanent basis at all, although for the past eight years Sir Trevor Brooking, educated in a very different school at West Ham under Ron Greenwood, has been Director of Football Development. Now the new man will report to him.

Hodgson has worked in seven countries, been on countless technical study groups, is interested in the development of young players and coaches and has a view of life beyond the touchline. With the belated advent of the National Football Centre at Burton, he is a perfect fit. He has also been a coach for 35 years with considerable success, leading many to applaud his appointment as Fabio Capello's successor.

Yet the England team does not need a coach; it needs a manager and motivator. There is a subtle difference, which is underestimated in debate about the respective merits of the two most obvious English candidates for the position that has ground down so many good men.

The philosophies of Hodgson and Harry Redknapp are entirely different. Hodgson rightly regards himself as a coach above all, which is his official title at West Bromwich Albion, a club employing a sporting director in the highly regarded Dan Ashworth. An insight into the new England manager's day-to-day methods was provided in these pages two years ago, when Fulham's Simon Davies revealed: "Every day is team shape. He gets the 11 he wants on a match day and he drills in everything that he wants. It's certain drills defensive, certain drills attacking and we work very hard at it."

Redknapp, in contrast, believes in assembling the best players and letting them play. He does not "drill" Luka Modric or Rafael van der Vaart or Gareth Bale, but is shrewd enough to have wanted them in his team, and to know that the trio require a Scott Parker or a Tom Huddlestone to win the ball for them.

The enticing combination of results and entertainment achieved at Tottenham since he took over a side at the bottom of the Premier League prompted bookmakers, with much (though not unanimous) media support, to favour his cause.

A personal opinion is that his liberating approach would have been better suited, as well as simply more enjoyable for players and spectators, than the more autocratic Hodgson's drills with England squad members such as Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Ashley Cole and the rest, who have all been taught by some of the country's best coaches for many years. Teaching is no longer what is required.

According to their most recent England mentor, who presumably left a debrief or two to the same effect in the Wembley offices before agreeing to resign, one of the squad's essential problems was too frequently "playing with fear", and Redknapp could have ameliorated that.

But the FA's gang of four overlooked him, Brooking taking the opportunity to deny that any personal animosity on his part was behind the choice. "We discussed a lot of candidates, none of whom I had a personal problem with," he said. "That didn't come into the decision-making at all."

At the same media briefing for Sunday newspapers, Hodgson admitted this would be the biggest challenge of his long career "without a shadow of a doubt" and that with a fortnight to put together his best squad, the timescale was hardly ideal.

Neither the FA nor Albion have made the immediate task any easier. The reason for not approaching his club once the decision was made "about a month ago" was that they believed Albion would have refused him permission to talk. That would have been almost unprecedented, even if Newcastle selfishly prevented Bobby Robson from returning after Kevin Keegan resigned in 2000.

At the start of April Albion were already eight points clear of relegation and by the middle of the month that margin had expanded to 13 points. Denied the possibility of taking a position at the pinnacle of his profession, Hodgson could either have demanded the right to do so at the end of the season – which would at least have given him more time to think about a European Championship squad – or resigned and begun immediately. When the current compromise was reached, Albion should certainly have recognised the urgency of the situation and allowed him to leave at once – with gratitude for securing them a mid-table position this season that few had forecast.

If there is a positive to be taken now, it is that the lack of expectation which even Brooking is fostering will remove some of the pressure from manager and players alike ahead of this summer's tournament.

Meanwhile the new man could do worse than pin the front-page headline from this paper's sports section on 11 March above his shaving mirror and repeat it 10 times before breakfast each day. "Hodgson: I don't think the England job is impossible."

Suggested Topics
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower