After 2 months and 23 days of speculation and shortlists, Roy Hodgson was officially unveiled yesterday as the Football Association’s ‘favoured man’. Whilst off the field he has still to convince the ‘unconvinced’ that he’s the right choice to take England forward, his preparation on the field begins in earnest.
Appoint a Captain
The captaincy was a thorny issue during Fabio Capello’s time in charge and a contributory factor in the Italian’s departure from the job in February. Hodgson’s appointment of Danny Murphy and Chris Brunt as captains of Fulham FC and West Bromwich Albion respectively suggests that he favours a senior figure for the captaincy. Liverpool’s talisman Steven Gerrard appears to be in pole position having led England at the 2010 FIFA World Cup however Tottenham Hotspur’s Scott Parker and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard should not be dismissed. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, Manchester United utility man Phil Jones and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere are all candidates in the long-term.
The Rio Ferdinand and John Terry Issue
The 64-year-old made it clear in his press conference at Wembley that he would be speaking to both players regarding their off the field relationship after accusations of racial abuse were made against the Chelsea captain by Ferdinand’s younger brother and Queens Park Rangers defender, Anton Ferdinand. Although Hodgson does have a series of alternatives in the centre back department in the form of Chelsea’s Gary Cahill, Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott and Everton’s Phil Jagielka – who have all impressed throughout the season – both Ferdinand and Terry provide invaluable experience having played in two FIFA World Cups and one UEFA European Championship between them.
Decide on a Strike Force
Despite being suspended for England’s first two matches, Hodgson has confirmed that Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will be named in his 23-man squad. Whether he decides to partner Rooney upfront with teammate Danny Welbeck or play him in behind a lone striker as an attacking midfielder remains to be seen. Hodgson has traditionally opted to go with a target man upfront that will put Stoke City’s Peter Crouch, Liverpool’s Andy Carroll and Queens Park Rangers’ Bobby Zamora in contention for a place in the starting line-up. He’ll also consider the speed offered by Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and the experience of Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermain Defoe.
The ex-Internazionale manager is renowned for his meticulous organisation, discipline and attention to detail – factors that have consistently made his teams hard to break down. Each player will know their role within the team – where to be positioned defensively, which areas to penetrate and how best to exploit the opposition. Despite accusations of being conservative and defensive, Hodgson prides himself on his teams quick movement, incisive passing and resilience. He’ll look for his side to stretch the play, exploit the flanks and look for overlapping full backs to provide the telling deliveries for the strikers to attack. Focus will also be placed on defending and attacking set pieces.
Backroom Staff and Squad Selection
Throughout his managerial career Hodgson has been accustomed to working with a small group of personnel alongside him. He may look to entrust the help of his former assistants at Fulham FC Ray Lewington and Mike Kelly and he’ll be expected to include current England U21 manager Stuart Pearce in his set-up. One will expect Hodgson to retain the majority of the current squad however he’ll not be afraid to make changes and may perhaps spring one or two surprises. Swansea City midfielder Scott Sinclair and Norwich City striker Grant Holt are amongst a number of players that are being sounded out as possible inclusions.