Hoddle determined to keep minds on Moldova

Glenn Hoddle may have come to international management short on experience but his learning curve has been steep. In barely a year as England coach he has had to counsel players on alcoholism, drug abuse, wife beating, drink-driving and anger management. He has faced a constant parade of injuries, lost England's unbeaten home World Cup record, won a prestigious foreign tournament and helped orphans in Georgia. Through all this, he has retained his self-control and public respect. Tonight he is being tested by two new wildly differing situations which will again examine his personal and professional skills.

In normal circumstances tonight's World Cup qualifying tie with Moldova would be a formality - the only doubt would be about how many goals England score. These are unusual times, however and, though the country is returning to normal, tonight's game will inevitably be overshadowed by tragedy.

It is Hoddle's task to ensure his team behave appropriately while not losing their professional edge. To this end, he has been drawn into the FA's deliberations about such matters as when and if Elton John's Candle In The Wind tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, should be played.

Professionally he has also been dealing with a complex situation. Four England players, David Beckham, David Batty, Graeme Le Saux and Robert Lee, are carrying a yellow card and, if booked tonight, will miss England's final qualifying tie with Italy in Rome. With Alan Shearer out and Teddy Sheringham and Tony Adams already doubtful for that game, and further injuries almost inevitable, Hoddle can ill-afford to lose more players.

Leave them out then is the obvious suggestion. But it's not as simple as that. If England come second in the group, tonight's result could determine whether they qualify automatically as second place finishers or have to enter a play off. That is unlikely as Moldova will probably - but not definitely - come bottom of the group and their results be thus ruled after the reckoning.

There is another dilemma. If he does leave any of the quartet out, he is essentially telling them they cannot be trusted not to get booked. Beckham, having been suspended from England's game with Brazil after successive bookings in Le Tournoi, could especially feel that way.

Beckham was showing the loss of control that led to his booking on a selection of video clips presented to the team last week and Hoddle said: "I wanted to show that to him in front of everyone else. We had a good laugh about it but it has sunk home to him. He saw it with his own eyes.

"There are signs of a problem there and we need to stamp on it for him to progress as a player. He gets carried away with things he doesn't need to get carried away with. It's not just youthful enthusiasm, you don't see Gary Neville doing it."

More generally he added: "As a coach, you never want to look ahead to the next game but I am forced into that position. I have to pick a team to win this game while considering whether to protect the four or take a chance. They need to make sure they are not booked for something stupid like backchat or not going back 10 yards at a free-kick. Being booked for a mistimed tackle is part of life. We would have to live with that. If I start with any of them I will consider taking them off if a game is won."

With Batty the decision may be taken out of Hoddle's hands as he is struggling to overcome a foot injury. The only other doubt is Gary Pallister whose back remains sore.

The big question is who plays alongside Ian Wright in attack. Paul Scholes seems sure to start, but with so many midfielders facing possible suspension Hoddle may play behind Wright and Les Ferdinand. "Moldova are not strong in the air," Hoddle said. Even with Shearer, Sheringham and Robbie Fowler injured, he has several options.

By the kick-off, England will know how Italy fared in Georgia. "I don't expect anything but an Italian victory," Hoddle said.

By the time that result comes through, England will be attempting to put last week's tragedy at the back of their minds. "It's a professional thing, something within you," Hoddle said. "I've done it personally. I had a bereavement in the family and played the next day and scored. I just had to switch off. I learned it from the Liverpool lads I've played with for England. Some of the things they did between matches you would not recommend but an hour before kick-off they became different people. It was an eye-opener for me.

"Moldova will be tougher than some people think. They did not lose 8- 0 in Italy and held them at home for more than an hour. The perfect scenario will be to get the points and beat them heavily to give everyone a lift. But whether it's 7-0 or 1-0 the important thing is to win."

ENGLAND (probable, 3-5-2): Seaman; G Neville, Southgate, Campbell; Ripley or Beckham, Lee, Scholes, Gascoigne, Le Saux or P Neville; Wright, Ferdinand.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)