MANAGER Roy Hodgson makes no apologies for possessing a nasty streak, nor does he care about being flavour of the month – all he wants to do is right the wrongs of England’s dismal World Cup campaign.
England will play their first competitive game since their winless run in Brazil tonight when they take on Switzerland at St Jakob-Park.
Supporters made their unhappiness clear last Wednesday when they stayed away in vast numbers for England’s narrow friendly win over Norway, which came in front of just 40,181 people.
Pundits have lined up to question whether Hodgson is the right man to lead England forward and polls have been conducted to gauge public sentiment about the 67-year-old’s suitability for the role.
But Hodgson is unswayed by those casting judgment on him.
“Popularity doesn’t really mean much to me,” the England manager said. “There may have been a slight swing in popularity after the World Cup. I’d have been surprised had there not been.
“I will have to live with external ideas and thoughts and accept them.
“The real support and popularity is with the group of players I work with.”
Hodgson caused controversy after the 1-0 win over Norway when he said his critics were talking “absolute f****** b*******”.
The England boss, an urbane and well-educated man, was branded ‘Roy of the Ravers’ as a result and he was forced to defend his words a couple of days later.
Despite the pressure on his shoulders, Hodgson insists he is still enjoying leading the national side.
“Am I seeing the nasty side of the job? No. There is no nasty side. I love this job,” he said.
“It’s a magnificent job. It’s the pinnacle of any coaching career.
“I need them to believe that we can move forward and achieve things. I get the good vibrations and feelings from (the players).”
Captain Wayne Rooney insists Hodgson has the backing of the full squad. “Us, as a team, not just myself, we back Roy 100 per cent,” Rooney said.
“We made that clear after we went out of the World Cup.
“He brings ideas to us. We know the World Cup was a disappointment, but I still feel we can move forward as a team.
“We’re progressing all the time. I think that will show in the next two years. The lads are working hard to get the best out of the ideas Roy is showing us. Hopefully we can do that in the next two years.”
Two days after Hodgson turned the air blue at Wembley, he let rip at his squad in a training session at St George’s Park.
Hodgson insists that is nothing out of the ordinary.
“I’m not a calm person. I have never have been a calm person,” he said.
“As any player who has worked with me would attest, there are always moments of extreme anger and viciousness in my coaching session.
“I don’t understand how anything I did in that session the other day could be seen as anger. I just make my point to players to say what I want of them.
“It’s unusual for me to get angry with my players because I protect them. If I’m guilty of anything the other night, it was of protecting players from unfair criticism and standing up for them. But be careful stereotyping me too much as a calm, collected person.”
Returning to the country where he enjoyed one of his most successful spells in coaching brightened Hodgson’s mood yesterday. Under Hodgson’s management, Switzerland ended a 28-year wait to qualify for a major tournament when they made it to USA ’94.
“It’s a great feeling to be here,” said Hodgson, who also managed Grasshoppers Zurich and Neuchatel Xamax. “Whenever I come back I feel as if it’s a return to another homeland.”
Welbeck’s wish to be centre of attention in attack: Page 2.