Monday, 25 June 2012

That Old Hodgson Magic

I’m down with a miserable cold, so no cartoons today and I really don’t feel much like typing. I am, however, working on a new animation which is a little different this time and my most complicated to date. I might even have it finished in less than a week...

I must say, however, that England’s exit from Euro 2012 came as something of a relief. I might now begin to enjoy the tournament. The thought of having to endure another 90 minutes of Hodgson’s anti-football nearly had me demanding a young priest and an old priest to perform an exorcism on the TV. I’m only disappointed that we managed to survive the group stages, where hard fought success over two teams we should be bullying in the playground every day of the week seemed to have filled many with the usual deluded faith tinged with xenophobia that we have the right English manager setting up the team to play the good old English way. Instead, I stick with what I said in my Euro 2012 animation: hoofing the ball is not a tactic we should be proud to embrace and to play 4-4-2 revealed a lack of tactical nous and an unwillingness to accept that the game has moved on in the last 30 years. Last night only made me thankful that Liverpool appointed Brendan Rodgers so I won’t have to watch that kind of football played every week next season.

4-4-2 against Italy was madness. Gerrard and Parker were run ragged in midfield, as evidenced by the fact that it was probably the first time I’ve seen Gerrard suffer cramp after 60 minutes. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a particularly mobile midfield but Pirlo was directing play from his bathchair. As for Hodgson’s team selection, Ashley Young must have some photos of Hodgson naked with a burlesque dancer. He’s been so dire against Sweden I’d wondered if he was applying for dual nationality and had ownership of a fjord. He was even worse last night. The only surprise about the missed penalty was that he didn’t go down inside the box.

Rooney also had no running after 60 minutes and Carroll caused them more trouble in 30 minutes of normal time and 30 of extra than either Young or Rooney caused them in the whole 120. I can’t actually remember what Wellbeck did except make a couple of clearances from defence. The biggest surprise to come out of the Euros is my admiration for John Terry. Did I really type that? Well, it’s there so I guess I must have. Terry has been my player of the tournament. As great as I think Gerrard has been (and he was in the first three matches), Terry has been fantastic in all four. I’ve never been a fan of the man (and I still dislike him in that respect) but as a full back, I concede that there are few better.

I suppose it’s too much to expect England fans who don’t support Liverpool (and therefore saw what he did to relatively good players) to recognise that Hodgson will never bring success to the team. He’s a manager who thrives on sustaining the equilibrium. He’s achieved with England exactly what he achieved with Liverpool: he expertly downplayed expectations; distracted us with talk of new team spirit and unity in the camp; and then he took credit when he managed the most mediocre success. The only difference is that unlike the Kop, England fans don’t see through his sleight of hand and I fear he’s going to be in his job for a number of years.

Urgh. That’s a horrible thought and I’m feeling too grim to dwell on this. I’m going to get to work. I have clouds to animate… I know. Doesn’t that sound like some real edge-of-your seat entertainment? In fact, it’s a bit like watching England hoof the ball…

Afterthought: since when did Joe Hart start to hoof the ball so much? What happened to calm distribution from the back to retain the ball, take a little pressure off, and build an attack? Am I simply naive about the basics of football to think it's stupidity of the highest order to keep giving the ball away?


  1. You've summed the whole Euro 2012 England experience perfectly. However, like you I've little doubt that this latest "glorious" failure (not losing a match in the tournament) will be attrubuted by many to the players spot kick inadequacies rather than to Hodgson's antediluvian tactics.
    You can also be sure that there will only be muted criticism of the "fluent in five languages and reader of Proust" England coach by his acolytes in the national press.

  2. I've been doing a little reading around and I think you're spot on: Hodgson and many journalists seem to be blaming some mental hurdle that players have in penalty shoot outs. It just baffles me. Rooney's abject performance is hardly mentioned, nor is Ashley Young. Glen Johnson, however, isn't getting the plaudits for last night's performance which I think was his best in an England shirt.

    I think Hodgson was appointed primarily because he's bought into the FA's National Football Centre out in the Midlands. Football doesn't matter, as was proved last night. We didn't play football.