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Hodgson, Englands steady-handed pragmatist

14 May 2014 01:31:52

Hodgson, Englands steady-handed pragmatist

A studious and well-travelled coach, Roy Hodgson is the man charged with the responsibility of restoring faith in the England national team after decades of underachievement.

Since succeeding Fabio Capello in May 2012, when he was handed the role despite popular support for the then Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp, the 66-year-old has steered England on a steady path that has led to this year's World Cup in Brazil.

Hodgson had only a matter of weeks to prepare for the 2012 European Championship, but despite low expectations he guided England to a creditable quarter-final showing that saw them beaten on penalties by eventual finalists Italy.

England proved similarly durable in World Cup qualifying, avoiding defeat to top Group H in the UEFA zone but attracting criticism for a pair of insipid draws with Ukraine and a 1-1 stalemate away to Montenegro.

Hodgson is above all a pragmatist and everywhere that he has enjoyed success - from Malmo, to Switzerland, to Fulham - his buzzwords have been discipline, hard work, and organisation.

"Every day in training is geared towards team shape," said former Wales midfielder Simon Davies during his time playing under Hodgson at Fulham.

"I've been working with the manager three seasons now. Every day is team shape, and it shows."

Hodgson's experience at Fulham showcased his best qualities in microcosm.

The west London club were in 18th place in the Premier League when he arrived in December 2007, but they stayed up that season, finished seventh in 2009, and reached the final of the Europa League in 2010, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

His success at Craven Cottage earned him a crack at the Liverpool job, but although he lasted only half a season at Anfield, an encouraging subsequent stint at West Bromwich Albion restored his reputation sufficiently for the Football Association to come calling in 2012.

After an unremarkable playing career, which included a spell in South Africa, Hodgson went into management with Swedish club Halmstad in 1976, winning two league titles.

He later return to Sweden with Malmo, winning five league titles, and his meandering career has also included jobs with teams as varied as Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, and FC Copenhagen, as well as the national sides of Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and Finland.

He took the Swiss to the World Cup in 1994, where they reached the last 16, and warm memories of the experience returned to him after England beat Poland last October to secure their place at this year's World Cup.

While he conceded that leading England out in Brazil will probably be the highlight of his managerial career, he added: "I don't want to denigrate other achievements, or for people in Switzerland to think I wasn't very proud of that achievement and that team."

On England's chances of World Cup success, he has exercised typical caution.

"First of all, you've always got a chance," he says. "It is the old thing about if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a lottery ticket."


AFP

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