So often maligned for its incompetence, and misguided attitudes to managerial appointments for the national side, has the FA got this one right? (Image | The Guardian)

The news of Roy Hodgson’s appointment as England manager certainly came as a surprise to the nation; many fans, pundits and journalists greeted the announcement with confusion and disbelief, some even expressed anger.

Much of the negative reaction towards the selection of Hodgson has not been driven by an examination of the qualities of the West Bromwich Albion manager, but more by the disappointment that the FA did not select Harry Redknapp, the “people’s choice.” I certainly share the disappointment felt by so many, but this should not detract from Hodgson’s abilities as a manager.

Hodgson has extensive club management experience in European football, with spells in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy. In 25 years he won eight league titles, three national cups and, despite a turbulent experience in charge of Inter Milan, he still led the club to a UEFA Cup Final in an extremely difficult time off the field for the Italian club. Since returning to England in 2007, Hodgson has excelled and overachieved at both Fulham and West Brom where he took his time to instil his philosophy of attractive football based on solid defensive foundations. Hodgson’s players at the West Midlands club cannot speak highly enough about him, with many already publicly stating their belief that he will be a great success with England.

In the cold light of day, only one set of supporters have a bad word to say about Roy Hodgson: Liverpool fans. (Image | SMT Daily)

However, it is of course Hodgson’s unsuccessful six month reign at Liverpool that is being analysed most vigorously by the press and fans alike. Hodgson was appointed at a very complicated, difficult time for Liverpool; the club had just failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in seven years. This came amongst the backdrop of growing discontent and anger from supporters towards the erratic ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. It was always going to be tough for Hodgson to convince an impatient set of fans, not accustomed to fighting for Europa League places, that he was the right man to take the club forward. Evidently, the 64-year-old is not blameless; he struggled to overcome crucial problems such as the need to find a system that would allow Gerrard to flourish in his favoured central position. Nevertheless, it is difficult to criticise Hodgson too heavily when Kenny Dalglish has shown this season that Liverpool’s problems cannot be solved by half a year in charge.

The FA was clearly not influenced by the mountain of support for Redknapp when making its decision, and perhaps it deserves some credit for that. The last man appointed to the post as the apparent “people’s choice” was Kevin Keegan, statistically England’s worst ever manager. I believe what did influence the FA’s decision to go with Hodgson was the new National Football Centre at St. George’s Park in Burton, set to open this summer. The FA is finally taking steps to improve the quality of football in this country from the grass-roots level and Hodgson, an intelligent, patient man, is seen as the one who will fit in with the FA’s project. He will support the plans and will not seek sole control over the direction of the national team in the way that a character such as Redknapp probably would.

The National Football Centre at Burton is a project crucial to England’s future, and Hodgson’s attributes make him the ideal man to take charge of the national side while it is being constructed, and during its formative years. (Image | The Guardian)

The FA had been very quiet in the build-up to Hodgson’s appointment, taking its time to assess everything in detail. It is highly likely that the financial ramifications of who was chosen would have been considered too. West Brom are not due any compensation because of Hodgson’s expiring contract, while Tottenham’s owner Daniel Levy is a tough negotiator who may have demanded at least £10 million for Redknapp. Some argue that the decision should lie solely on the qualities of the manager, yet the FA has quite rightly been condemned for wasting millions of pounds on several baffling decisions, so is it not extremely hypocritical to now criticise the organisation for taking finances into consideration?

There are doubts over how far England can go in Ukraine and Poland this summer. Hodgson may struggle to stamp his ideals onto the England team with such a short time-frame to work with the team, but this is an appointment for the long-term, aimed at creating stability.

The officials who run our game have been wrong so many times, and the leadership of the national team has been nothing short of chaotic in recent years. However, for once the FA is trying to instil some stability and thought into the direction of the England national football team. The fact that Hodgson is the first ever England boss to be appointed with previous international management experience is a clear example of this. So perhaps instead of looking to find every fault possible in the new manager, the nation should in fact applaud the FA for making a decision that demonstrates some degree of thought, planning and intelligence.

Tweet the author | @georgestarkey23

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