The sun had barely set on England’s glorious qualification for next year’s World Cup in Brazil before Roy Hodgson’s preparations had taken their first hefty blow.
The England boss is said to be mortified at the misinterpretation of his misplaced joke at half-time of England’s 2-0 victory, but perhaps more alarming is the idea that the conversation was leaked at all.
An unidentified England player revealed the comments to the media having felt Hodgson’s analogy – designed to advocate passing to Andros Townsend – had racist connotations.
There is, of course, no point in speculating as to who the irked player was and their motives for unsettling the victorious Three Lions.
Rumours have circulated that the player responsible has personal grievances with Hodgson over a lack of game-time, but regardless of their identity, the FA must consider the implications of this action.
Even in the happiest of dressing rooms, there will always be one or two troublesome faces, but the concept of a snake in the camp raises real concerns about team unity going forward to Rio 2014.
Another universally acknowledged truth about England’s preparations going into any tournament is sadly that something will always go wrong.
Whether that be the battle of John Terry vs. Rio Ferdinand, John Terry vs. Wayne Bridge (a theme seems to be developing here, though the Chelsea skipper has since retired from international football), or the illustrious love life of the much-maligned Sven Goran Erikson.
The media have not been known for getting behind the England team, even if their performances have often deserved such vitriolic critiques as have been offered up. Rarely, however, are they coaxed in by a member of the very set-up they are so eager to tear apart.
Andros Townsend did indeed keep up the good work against the Poles following his sensational debut against Montenegro. Unfortunately, that seems to have been overshadowed, despite the Tottenham winger’s insistence that no offence was taken from Hodgson’s remarks.
A saga has apparently made out of nothing at all, other than a desperate attempt to find scandal in the otherwise spotless career of the upstanding Roy Hodgson. Work must begin now if England are to have any sort of success in Brazil, but the road to Rio is never going to be a smooth one.
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