Football

Roy Hodgson needs to adapt to continue as England manager

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Roy Hodgson appears to have caused somewhat of a stir in the media this week, with his rather explosive and uncompromising responses to criticism of England's insipid display against Norway on Wednesday providing a stark contrast to another painfully dull evening at Wembley.

Breaking from his usual role as the respected and reserved elder statesman, Hodgson was evidently incensed by a question put to him in the traditional post-match press conference relating to his side's lack of clear-cut chances and has since gone as far as to label criticism of England's performance against thoroughly average opponents as 'absolute f***ng b****ks'.

Now, on the one hand, it is a welcome sight to see the usually docile and respectful Hodgson sparked into such a passionate, emotive defence of his players.

While many supporters have begun to seriously question his suitability for the role, this was an unmistakeable sign that the 67-year-old truly believes in his players and their potential to succeed as a group.

Refusal to accept the stats

What was especially alarming about it, however, was Hodgson's seeming refusal to engage in any sort of statistical-based analysis of his team.

As many reporters with first-hand experience of interviewing him during his last club job with Fulham have been quick to testify, this flat-out rejection of stats by Hodgson is certainly nothing new.

Quite simply, he does not seem to think much of them. While we cannot speak for his approach and methods behind closed doors, publicly Hodgson - somewhat unsurprisingly, given his longevity in the game - promotes the image of a very 'old-school' manager, one who is set in his ways and who stubbornly prefers to rely on his own instincts and insights rather than those provided by the numbers.

Risky image

While some might deem this as a welcome change to the new breed of managers and perhaps even a refreshing throwback to a time when football was not quite the monster it has become today , this seems quite a dangerous image to project in the modern age where tactical battles and endless heatmaps have become the order of the day.

Personally, I believe that the sparse 40,181 crowd that attended England's pre-Euro 2016 qualifying friendly was as much down to circumstance and a relatively uninspiring choice of opponent as it was any sort of active boycott or backlash from disgruntled supporters following a fairly abject World Cup campaign that was mostly devoid of any excitement, one gloriously entertaining half against Italy aside.

However, in saying that, it is becoming increasingly obvious that, at the start of yet another new dawn for the England national setup, people are beginning to ponder if Hodgson remains the man for the job.

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Questions over suitability/relevance

At the forefront of this is a steadily prevailing belief that the previously convenient marriage between England and Hodgson no longer makes much sense.

Initially viewed as the stereotypical 'safe pair of hands' to smooth the country's difficult transition from the end of the so-called 'Golden Generation' into an uncertain future without all of the tiresome hullabaloo that would have inevitably surrounded the appointment of rival Harry Redknapp, Hodgson's unfortunate reputation as a cherished relic from a bygone era is beginning to work against him.

Despite what some may have wanted you to believe ahead of the Norway fixture and justified concerns over an ever-decreasing talent pool aside, England do currently have a number of exciting talents - Liverpool's Raheem Sterling is arguably the pick of the bunch at present - who, if gelled together in the correct system, should combine to create a more dynamic and watchable side for years to come.

Whether they can achieve this with an 'old-school' manager at the helm who still appears to harbour a preference for a surely outdated 4-4-2 formation is looking increasingly doubtful.

Hodgson must change

If the usually affable Hodgson wishes to stay relevant and avoid ending up on the scrapheap, then he simply has to adapt and learn to embrace and utilise the plethora of stats at his fingertips.

That is not to say, however, that he should totally dispense of the methods that have seen him achieve managerial success in so many countries across the globe.

Even in today's football, there should still rightfully be a place for good old-fashioned gut feeling and managers who often rely on their wits and their own experiences to guide them through certain situations.

For Hodgson - whose is currently contracted by the Football Association until after the next Euros - it may be about striking the right balance.

But as the tide of opinion gradually begins to sway against him, he just cannot afford to be seen to be quite so out of touch or he risks being left behind for good.

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Topics:
Football
England Football
Premier League

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