Roy Hodgson: He's not Harry Redknapp but...
Roy Hodgson – among other things – suffered for not being Kenny Dalglish during his failed tenure at Liverpool. The Football Association must hope their choice as England manager does not suffer similarly for the crime of not being Harry Redknapp.
In the eyes of Liverpool fans, Hodgson paled miserably in comparison to Dalglish after Anfield’s icon, a serial collector of silverware as player and manager, was overlooked in favour of the man who had just taken Fulham to the Europa League Final in 2010.
As soon as the FA’s official move for Hodgson was announced on Sunday evening the comparisons with Redknapp, previously the prime contender and the so-called “People’s Choice”, began. And not many were flattering.
Roy Hodgson and Harry Redknapp. Photo: Empics
When Redknapp’s name was first placed in the frame as Fabio Capello’s successor after he quit in February, influential England figures such as Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand hurriedly took to their Twitter accounts to declare support.
The Twitterati have hardly been alive with backing for Hodgson now it is clear he is the preferred choice of the FA’s four-man selection panel comprising chairman David Bernstein, FA general secretary Alex Horne, director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking and managing director of Club England Adrian Bevington.
The FA itself has been accused of having its modern-day “Brian Clough moment" with the decision to choose Hodgson ahead of Redknapp being likened to Ron Greenwood's selection ahead of the great Derby County and Nottingham Forest manager as successor to Don Revie in 1977.
The argument for Redknapp drives towards his recent successes, winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008, guiding Tottenham to the Carling Cup Final in 2009 before taking them into the Champions League for the first time, reaching the last eight in 2011 and beating Inter Milan and AC Milan along the way.
Hodgson, after losing that Europa League Final to Atletico Madrid, had a nightmare spell at Anfield that ended with the sack in 191 days before restoring at least some of his reputation with very solid work at West Bromich Albion.
Redknapp is the highest-placed English manager in the Premier League with a Spurs team that played arguably the most exciting football in the division this season until, with tragi-comic timing, they went into a sharp decline at almost the very moment their manager was linked with the national job.
He is regarded as an advocate of flair-laden attacking football, although to suggest Redknapp does not have a grasp on the tactical side of the game is an insult, while Hodgson is portrayed as a fan of functionality, organisation, repetition and discipline instilled on the training ground.
Hodgson likes 4-4-2 and zonal marking, whereas Redknapp prefers one man up front and more fluidity around the midfield. That is not to say either is wrong in their approach and England’s new coach will surely be wise enough to tailor his approach to the players at his disposal.
At Liverpool, Hodgson’s methods reportedly led to tedium on the training ground – although it is clear this approach was bought into and resulted in success at Fulham and stability at The Hawthorns. Steven Gerrard’s thoughts on the appointment will be keenly sought.
Redknapp is regarded as more media friendly, quicker with the quip than Hodgson, but the latter’s desire to study the game and his wide range of interests outside of the game also wins him plenty of admirers.
Again Hodgson’s time at Liverpool is used as an exhibit against him. He certainly became increasingly testy under constant scrutiny at Anfield as he struggled to cope with the pressure and his failure to fire the imagination of the fans with either his personality or style of football.
Redknapp can have his moments also, however, reacting famously with fury when being described as “a wheeler dealer” by an interviewer. He has also had his failures, such as his relegation with Southampton in 2005.
When their careers are measured in trophies, Hodgson is the runaway winner. The problem he has is where and when they were won.
Hodgson finished top of the Swedish league seven times with Halmstad and Malmo. He also won the Swedish Cup twice with Malmo before collecting the Danish championship with FC Copenhagen in 2001.
He was runner-up in the Uefa Cup with Inter Milan in 1997 and enjoyed a successful first season with Blackburn Rovers, finishing sixth and taking them into Europe, before he was sacked by owner Jack Walker after a slump the following season.
It is creditable record and one that demonstrates a background of experience in working around Europe at club and international level that Redknapp cannot boast – but winning titles in Scandinavia is never held up as confirmation that you are the man to manage England.
Many of England’s players relished the potential appointment of Redknapp because they felt it might bring some of the joy back to playing for their country again which they felt had been taken away during Capello’s austere tenure.
Hodgson will not evoke the same emotions and there may be disappointment among some, but surely an upcoming major tournament will be enough to get the juices flowing irrespective of who is wearing the tracksuit on the training ground.
And Hodgson will be out there with them, preparing meticulously and hoping England's players join him in wanting to improve themselves and the country's fortunes.
So the comparisons will continue while the FA, understandably, outlines Hodgson’s wide experiences, renowned tactical expertise and commitment to shaping every aspect of England’s football development at Burton.
He is not, however, Harry Redknapp. Which, in some quarters at least, has put him at an instant disadvantage.