Is the pressure beginning to get to England manager Roy Hodgson? Judging by his reaction to some gentle probing from the media following his side’s 1-0 win over Norway, he is certainly showing signs of fraying at the edges.
Coming on the back of a dismal World Cup performance in Brazil (P3, W0, D1, L2), the new-look England, which looked remarkably similar to the old-look England, crept back into the national consciousness on Wednesday with an unconvincing display against a youthful side ranked 53 in the world.
In front of a crowd of just 40,181, the lowest for an England match at the new Wembley, Hodgson’s men carried on where they had left off in Brazil: producing one of their trademark stuttering, incoherent performance whilst mustering just two shots on target.
Inevitably, given such an anaemic display, questions would be asked about the effectiveness of Hodgson’s attack. The normally composed England coach was having none of it, though, berating those present for having the temerity to question his side’s potency.
“This team will score goals,” he assured us. “They’ll score goals. Rooney will score goals. Welbeck will score goals. [Daniel] Sturridge will score goals. [Raheem] Sterling will score goals.”
We shall see.
Listening to his diatribe, one is reminded of none other than Mike Bassett, the fictional England manager, (loosely) based on one of Hodgson’s predecessors, Graham ‘Do I not like that’ Taylor. A man whose fate as England boss was sealed as much by him evolving into a figure of ridicule, as by the poor results he presided over.
How long before, the media decide to lampoon the current incumbent as Roy ‘don’t talk to me about stats’ Hodgson?