All over social media in the last few days I've witnessed an outcry for Roy Hodgson to be sacked as England manager, as a knee-jerk reaction to England's disappointing World Cup performance, but personally, I don't think I could disagree more.
Yes, Hodgson lacks the attacking tactical nous that we see from many young, foreign managers, but that's never what Hodgson's been about, and we knew that when he was appointed. Hodgson is all about preparation and you can't argue that England didn't have the perfect preparation for the tournament.
Hodgson planned every part of England's pre-tournament build up, and in my opinion got every part spot on. Warm weather training camps in Portugal, where the players were instructed to wear extra layers to prepare for the heat in Manaus, followed by a trip to the even hotter Miami.
Hodgson arranged friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras in Miami, and many would see these as pointless fixtures, but were in fact hand picked by Hodgson, Ecuador finished one place above Uruguay in qualification and Honduras finished one place below Costa Rica, therefore Hodgson would have viewed these games as adequate preparation for England's group stage matches.
Unfortunately, Hodgson never would have expected a thunderstorm in Miami to ruin the game against Honduras, as well as the injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain which ruled him out of the tournament, and I imagine the Ox would have been part of Hodgson's plans for at least a part of the first two group games.
Another aspect of the tournament Hodgson would never have expected, is the way a number of senior players let him down during the tournament. In a youthful squad, Hodgson would have expected the likes of Steven Gerrard, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines to step up and really perform, but against Uruguay I witnessed one of the poorest performances I've seen from those four.
Cahill was given the opporutnity to step up and take the place of John Terry and command the defence, but failed to do so, and Jagielka would of needed to perform to his very best to contain the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, but was far from it.
Baines faced the odd situation of making his tournament debut at the age of 29, and the pressure may well have got to him. Italy were aware of his inexperience, and chose to target him, and it worked with their winner coming from a cross from Baines' defensive side.
I feel bad criticising Gerrard, and I won't put blame on him for his 'assist' for Suarez's winner, but he wasn't up to his usual high standards during England's first two games, and when we needed 'Captain Fantastic' to shine, he went missing.
Before the tournament everyone cried out for Hodgson to pick a youthful and attacking side, and he didn't disappoint. When the lineup for the Italy game came out, it was as many would have expected, and the same goes for the Uruguay game.
The majority wouldn't have questioned either lineup, apart from the enigma that is Wayne Rooney, who continues to divide opinion across the country, but with a goal and an assist over the two games, could we have asked much more?
Hodgson picked youth and has given them valuable experience to take to France in 2016 and I fully believe that Hodgson should be given the opportunity to be their with his players.
At the end of the day, Greg Dyke's reaction to the World Cup draw summed up England's World Cup before it even started. Did we ever stand that much of a chance? Almost everything indicates we weere the third best team in the group, FIFA rankings, past tournament experience, and arguably player by player.
Nobody could have predicted Costa Rica's World Cup performance, they've turned up and have taken it to the opposition, and have been rewarded for it, possibly something we haven't seen England do.
Yes, England could argue that they have been a little hard done by getting nothing out of their opening two games, but it is fine margins that define football, and fine margins that have let England down once again.
Yes, this World Cup has been wholly disappointing, I'm not arguing that in any way, but I don't think Roy Hodgson is to blame for that, and with a severe lack of adequate replacements, I thouroughly believe that he should be given the opportunity to take a team to the European Championships in 2016 and prove a lot of people wrong about him, but a failure to perform in another major tournament will give Hodgson very few places to hide.
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