Brian GlanvilleAnd so it is Hodgson, not Harry. An FA decision which with certain distinguished exceptions, notably Terry Venables, who got the England job which could well have gone to Hodgson in 1994, has been greeted by an avalanche of outrage in the media; and angry scepticism among tens of thousands of fans. Yet as one who has known, liked and admired Hodgson for many years, I feel the right choice has been made and that Harry, who has taken the news gracefully – and it could be with a certain inner sense of relief – is essentially a shrewd, effective, commercially adept club manager, whose qualities are best suited to the role he occupies at present.

For me, Hodgson should have been given the England role rather than Terry Venables in 1994. When he was fresh from the World Cup finals in the USA to which he had so surprisingly and impressively guided little, unfancied Switzerland. In the process, humiliating mighty Italy in the group qualifiers. In Cagliari, the Swiss went into a sensational 2-0 lead and the azzurri only with great trouble managed to make it a 2-2 draw. But in Berne in the return game, it was the Swiss who won 1-0. Even if, in America, they disappeared after the first stage with a win a loss and a draw while the azzurri, one strenuous way and another, somehow got all the way to the final, where they lost only on penalties to the Brazilians.

Hodgson is 18 years older now and plainly not at the apex of his managerial career, but he is still a devoted coach – where Harry isn’t known to coach – as I so well remember him to be when I spent time with him out at Appiano Gentile where Inter have their ample training grounds. There I remember watching Roy meticulously put his players through their paces, watched with huge admiration by Giacinto Facchetti, not much earlier the towering attacking left back for Italy and Inter, frequent scorer of goals with his powerful right foot.

Giacinto had become a devoted fan of Hodgson since Inter had come up twice against Malmo, managed by Roy, in the European Cup. In the first occasion Malmo, under the aegis of Hodgson, narrowly went out to Inter. On the second occasion, they knocked Internazionale out.

Roy had several happy and successful years in Sweden, first with Halmstad then Malmo. He began well at Inter, but early in his second season there he was distressed and upset by the pressures of the press to which it might be said that, however explicably, he over reacted.

A spell in charge of Blackburn Rovers was unsuccessful. More recently, he took over the Finland international team, with notable results in the European Championship qualifiers, though not quite well enough to get through. At Liverpool, not long afterwards, it cannot be denied that things went amiss. But with Liverpool’s fans intent on bringing back Kenny Dalglish and Kenny making no secret of the fact that he wanted to come back, Roy never had much of a chance. At Fulham, previously, he had performed small miracles, first saving them from which seemed inevitable relegation, then getting them, from deep in July, all the way to the final of the Europa Cup final.

Most recently at West Bromwich Albion, he has performed the difficult task of keeping a team of moderate abilities – always excepting Peter Odemwingie – well clear of relegation. Taking over England, he arguably has the advantage of not over much being expected of a team which will miss its star turn Wayne Rooney for its first two European games. Harry meanwhile, having triumphantly routed the prosecution at his trial, inexplicably failing to substitute the struggling centre back William Gallas against Chelsea at Wembley seeing Spurs slip away in the concluding games of the season, architect of those superb displays against Milan in the European Cup, he remains as a supreme wheeler dealer, much though he hates the description, immensely wiser, shrewder and more worldly wise than he ever claimed to be in court, I feel he would always be happier at club level.

The life of an international team manager is, after all, essentially a lonely and sporadic one, the intense human contact with players denied him, except for brief weeks in the finals of tournaments. It was meanwhile Sir Christopher Wren who said of St Paul’s; “If you want to see my monument, look about you.” Harry, for his part, can point to his grandiose house in Sandbanks, and the FA will now reportedly save themselves the bagatelle of £10 million. Harry is arguably worth much more than that to Tottenham.

By Brian Glanville

 

  • Andrew Shaw

    Not all of Mr Glanville’s contributions are here. When I was young (a long time ago in the 70’s) I used to buy World Soccer to read his marvellous articles. Now a browse through to see what nonsense he has come up with in his dotage so was pleasantly surprised to come across this, which is most sensible, and the criticism of referees for their bad decisions, which have certainly been to the detriment of Manchester City amongst others!! However, in the latest World Soccer, Glanville is re-iterating his view that both Manchester clubs were humiliated twice in Europe. Whilst that may be true of Manchester United it is far from the case for Manchester City who were unlucky with the group they drew and the order of the games. They would have been far better off had they played the home game against Napoli at the end of the group not the start. Glanville’s assertions ignore three other facts which are that, strongest side or not, City beat Bayern 2-0 convincingly at home, were extremely unfortunate not to be 2-0 up in the Allianz Arena but for two shocking decisions by the referee who failed to give two penalties during the opening 35 minutes when Bayern were comprehensively played off the park and the final point that Manchester City are one of only five clubs in many many years who achieved 10 points in the group and failed to qualify. As far as the Europa league goes, Glanville is again wide of the mark. The problem is that the English clubs simply do not take the Europa league seriously even in the later stages so despite the platitudes about trying to get to the final, City simply did not bother until they were losing so heavily that they were effectively out. Far from being humiliated, they showed exactly how much fire power they do have by nearly turning the tie around! As for the Champions League, I wonder what Brian Glanville’s views are now that Barca and Madrid are both eliminated and we have two finalists who finished second and third in their respective leagues. Chelsea, by the way, have taken four points out of twelve against the two Manchester clubs this season and their aging team may have just been good enough to hold on against Liverpool but will find it tough going in Munchen.

  • Shane

    A manager of Hodgson’s experience, if he were Italian, German or whatever nationality, would have more than likely managed his country’s national team, and probably long before this point of his career.
    He is the outstanding candidate in an ever shrinking pool of English managers and is respected and admired across Europe, but as he isn’t and never has been the English media’s choice (see the Sun’s headlines mocking his speech impediment in what was a pathetic but also relevant example of the tabloid press) in this country, he will be inevitably massacred if England don’t hit the ground running.
    However, he does deserve the opportunity and he’s delighted to now get it so I say the best of luck to him.

  • pepe

    Good luck Mr Hodgson. Not Eriksson nor Capello were good choices for the three lions. Big former mistake.

  • Pedro

    Hodgson may be a nice bloke but really what has he won as a manager? A few league wins in Sweden and Switzerland does not qualify one for the England job. His negative tactics at Liverpool earlier this season are a good pointer as to what is to come.