Defeats can help Hodgson in Brazil
Roy Hodgson is right in defending himself after successive home defeats to Chile and Germany ramped up unnecessary pressure on the England manager, because things aren’t as bad as they seem for the Three Lions.
Hodgson oversaw England’s first successive Wembley defeats since 1977 on Friday and Tuesday night, prompting crowd jeers and an unsurprising media whirl.
But the 66-year-old is absolutely correct in defending himself and his efforts over the past 12 months.
He might have added that some sections on the fanbase and press need a good dose of reality, but on this occasion he declined to make that point.
"There's certainly no question of panic," Hodgson told the press.
"I'm not prepared to accept that two friendly defeats in which I have used a lot of players in two tough games is going to take the shine off what has been a very good year."
"It has been a great year for the Football Association on their 150th anniversary and it's been a great year for me because we have qualified for the World Cup.
"We have achieved our goal and we have a lot to look forward to. I am looking forward very much to 2014."
The outcry following the Chile and Germany losses was a bit embarrassing, and if you look at it with a bit of context and realism then the picture gets a bit brighter for England fans.
Firstly, Chile aren’t exactly walkovers. The South American side are ranked in the top ten of the admittedly giddy FIFA-world rankings, but regardless of what we make of FIFA’s rankings it must be noted that Chile are quite a formidable opponent. And they have Alexis Sanchez, which will help.
Similarly, Germany – despite playing a clearly understrength side – are still a top-class outfit and the team they put out last night would trouble sides just as good as England. So again, reality bites.
Secondly, they were friendlies. Reality might bite but it certainly doesn’t hurt as much when there’s little more than a bit of national pride at stake.
Losing to Germany in South Africa mattered. Losing to Germany in East London last night doesn’t quite have the same significance.
And finally, the debutants, of which there were a few, shows that Chile didn’t really beat Roy Hodgson’s first XI. They defeated an experimental England side.
Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Fraser Forster were finding their feet in the Chile game and it probably counted against England.
England weren’t exactly at full strength against the Germans either, but nor was Joachim Low’s side, and for that defeat you have to accept that one squad was just better than the other.
As I said, reality bites but only the staunchest (and injudicious) England fan would expect them to lift the World Cup ahead of Germany next summer.
Within the two games Hodgson certainly saw negatives – Joe Hart isn’t quite back on top form yet, Fraser Forster’s debut might have knocked him, the midfield was timid against Germany and the defence handled Sanchez badly – but it wasn’t all doom and gloom despite the defeats.
Three debutants got vital experience against two good sides, Hodgson actually has things he can work on and learn from defeat and while Hart isn’t exactly on top form, he isn’t far off it as he showed against Germany.
It’s defeat yes, but Hodgson must be pleased with what he can take from the games.
Two wins against poor opponents would have taught the England boss nothing, and he and the FA knew the risk when they booked these particular opponents.
England won’t win the World Cup in Brazil, and they will probably have a fight on their hands to make the quarter-finals depending on the draw.
But at least now Roy Hodgson can work on a plan to outfox the likes of Germany and Chile, having seen what they can do to two different England teams he can put out on the pitch.
It is these types of sides that will be standing in England’s way next summer, and in defeat Roy Hodgson can now go away and work on mustering up a winning plan for Brazil 2014.
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