Hodgson enters as England begin new era
The Football Association's case for Roy Hodgson's defence was well-prepared as chairman David Bernstein stood by the only man seriously considered to be the new England manager.
Bernstein backed the process which, to widespread surprise, ignored Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp and led to the FA's four-man selection panel appointing West Bromwich Albion head coach Hodgson on a four-year contract.
Hodgson himself accepted his arrival at Wembley had not been a cause for widespread rejoicing across the land - but if he was knocked out of his stride by the mixture of apathy and antipathy that has greeted him in some quarters he disguised it in a sure-footed first performance.
And if there was any danger of Redknapp being the spectre at Hodgson's Wembley feast, the emphatic support of Bernstein and the FA's director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking went a long way towards banishing it.
Bernstein was in possession of Hodgson's Unique Selling Point and it was never knowingly undersold. The 64-year-old was the first England manager to take the post with previous international experience, in this case with Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. The message was rammed home repeatedly that here was someone the FA regarded as a man of pedigree.
It may not be enough to convince those who doubt Hodgson but it was a key component in the FA's explanation for its decision, made a month ago, to make him their sole target and appoint him on a four-year deal.
Hodgson has been handed a four-year deal as England manager. Photo: Getty
Bernstein was not dodging the obvious dangers of refusing to bow to populist opinion but could not have been more strident in his conviction that all discussions that had led to "our favoured man" sitting at his left-hand side in a heavily populated Wembley media theatre had been concluded highly satisfactorily.
"One of the most important decisions a chairman and board can make is the appointment of a manager," said Bernstein. "I won't have too many stabs at this. I hope this is my only appointment as that would be a great sign of success.
"We stand and fall together on this. There were easier appointments but it shows the level of confidence that we went for this appointment, understanding all the issues."
Bernstein knows the price on the Hodgson ticket. If he fails the FA fails. If Hodgson slips, the decision-making process that led to his appointment will be subjected to forensic scrutiny.
This was not the day for that. This was a day for the FA's fresh start and to join Hodgson in presenting their new manager in the best possible light. This initial mission was accomplished. The opening skirmish to win the hearts and minds of those sceptical about him was successfully and skilfully negotiated by all parties.
Hodgson is the man that will make Bernstein and his colleagues "stand and fall together" - and all will have been happy with an assured and positive showing demonstrating his experience as he dealt with a succession of items his sixth sense would have told him would appear on the opening agenda.
The questions read like Hodgson's "England To Do List".
Hodgson expressed "empathy not sympathy" for Redknapp at missing out, revealed he would speak to John Terry and Rio Ferdinand after the Chelsea captain was charged with racially abusing his brother Anton, which he denies.
Wayne Rooney will be going to Euro 2012 despite missing the opening two games through suspension, his failure at Liverpool was a matter for his past and Hodgson swerved neatly around the issue of whether Steven Gerrard, his captain throughout a 191-day nightmare at Anfield, would adopt the same role with England.
Backroom staff can wait and while the new development centre at Burton will be graced by Hodgson's presence when required, his main focus was on the shop window, England's senior team, as opposed to the goods at the back.
In a phrase used to describe the rationale behind the FA's move for Hodgson, boxes were there to be ticked as he moved through the issues. Some got the tick and others were left blank.
At some stages Hodgson's opening media briefing almost took on the guise of a courtroom appearance - "all I can do is refer you to my previous answer" - but it was conducted in a civilised manner free from hostility and with a refreshingly positive approach from England's new manager.
Indeed, there seemed to be a genuine air of hope that Hodgson would be a success despite his underwhelming early reception, which had mellowed markedly by the time he took to the podium at Wembley.
There should be no criticism of those question Hodgson's appointment - it is allowed after all - but in all areas he was accompanied by a hope he would get a fair chance, which he must.
Impressively among this composed display, he refused to hide behind the obvious shield of a shortage of preparation time should his first mission end in failure in Poland and Ukraine this summer. Hodgson admitted he would be bitterly disappointed if England failed to get out of the group stage.
No serious attempt was made at expectation management by coming in low.
By the end of the formal introductions Redknapp's shadow was in retreat. Hodgson also addressed the question raised here after the FA's approach was revealed on Sunday night.
If he paid the price for not being Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool, would he suffer for not being Harry Redknapp with England?
"Of course I'd have to be on another planet not to be aware of that situation," he said. "There is also one major difference between my time at Liverpool and being offered the job of England manager.
"The people at Liverpool who appointed me didn't have a chance to stay very long and others took over the club. The FA had a lot of time to decide which candidate they wanted to do the job and I'm happy it was me."
FA chairman Bernstein and his selection cohorts Brooking, general secretary Alex Horne and Club England managing director Adrian Bevington, as well as the organisation's "favoured man" - left to smiles and the accompaniment of flashbulbs. The united front was an impressive one as another new England era began under Roy Hodgson.