Roy Hodgson

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England March On

I have been very surprised by England’s EURO 2012 progress under the new leadership of Roy Hodgson.  I honestly expected a Steve McClaren type of reign; where the manager picks the same players, plays in the same style and makes all the same mistakes.

Hodgson has fielded mostly the same players that one would expect with a couple of new faces mixed in; no great surprises there, but the way England are playing is totally different.  It certainly isn’t pretty to watch, in fact to a neutral it is probably dead boring, but man is it organized!  And at the end of the day it gets results and results win tournaments.

England are looking like one of the most difficult teams to beat at EURO 2012.  As they showed against the Ukraine they are very difficult to break down, and have been giving away very few chances.  On the flip side they have not been creating many chances at the other end either.

All England fans would love for England to play expansive Brazilian or Spanish football, winning matches with 40 shots on target, 30 corners and 8-nill scorelines on the way to win major tournaments.  This, however, is just not reasonable with the personnel that we have available; Hodgson has embraced the reality of what England is capable of.

In my opinion playing this way is the only way England will have chance at winning the tournament, and we already owe Hodgson a great deal of gratitude for not only progressing from the group stage, but winning the group by a clear 3 points.

There has to be more to the Rio snub

Since becoming England manager, Roy Hodgson has really only made one controversial decision; that was to leave Rio Ferdinand out of the Euro 2012 squad.

At the time it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal because when you look through the list of included central defenders: Terry, Cahill, Jagielka, Lescott, Jones and put each up against Ferdinand it is debatable who is better.  I simple put it down to Roy thinking that these included defenders are playing better than Ferdinand at this point in time.

However the whole situation has become a bit more sinister since the injury to Gary Cahill.  One would assume that Rio is obviously next in line for a call up…but shockingly Hodgson has gone with Martin Kelly instead…

When you stack up the stats of Kelly versus Ferdinand this decision seems to make absolutely no footballing sense.

Rio Ferdinand – made 30 league appearances for Manchester United this season and they finished 2nd.

Martin Kelly – made 10 league appearances for Liverpool this season and they finished 8th.

And that’s just this season’s most recent and basic stats, which debunks the theory that Ferdinand is over the hill.  If you look at the history of both players it is hands down no contest. Ferdinand with 81 senior England caps, 5 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups, a Champions League, and FA Cup; versus Martin Kelly with 1 League Cup.

In footballing terms it is the equivalent of saying “I would rather take 1 less player to the Euros than include Rio Ferdinand”.

The next argument is that Ferdinand is injury prone, but we are talking about the 5th in line center back spot.  Hodgson has already shown that he has no problem including  recently injured players, such as Terry, Gerrand, Welbeck, Parker, etc.. so I doubt this is Hodgson’s reasoning.

Some managers like to stamp their authority on the team by locking out a high profile player, Fabio Capello was certainly the type of manager to do that, but nothing about Roy makes me think he is of the same ilk in this regard.

My only conclusion is that there has to be some ulterior motive.  Maybe Sir Alex made a man to man phone call to Hodgson saying in no uncertain terms “call up Ferdinand at your own peril”; it is, after all, well known that managers have been led on by the possibility of becoming the next Manchester United manager after the great man retires.

Or maybe behind the scenes Ferdinand’s personality is detrimental to team moral.  When watching him in a losing situation he does seem to be one of those players who turns to his teammates and says “you guys suck”… as opposed to giving a rallying cry.

Whatever the reason for this decision it has to be something strange, because no one can tell me Martin Kelly is a better defender than Rio Ferdinand.