Hodgson prepares to step up and answer FA’s call to lead England

Roy Hodgson left Wembley last night after a “positive” four-hour meeting with the Football Association, thrashing out the contract that is set to confirm him as England’s new manager.

The West Bromwich Albion boss arrived just before 3pm to meet the four-man Club England board – David Bernstein, Alex Horne, Sir Trevor Brooking and Adrian Bevington – to open negotiations after his club granted permission for him to become Fabio Capello’s successor.

He left just after 7pm without making any comment and the FA confirmed there would be no further statements last night with an update expected today.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, the mere fact nothing has happened can be viewed as a pointer, with the silence probably having as much to do with the other major footballing story of the day, 200 miles north in Manchester, as any breakdown in negotiations or unexpected stumbling blocks.

Certainly, FA insiders were at pains to stress Hodgson was attending a “meeting” rather than an interview, offering further proof that he remains the only man on their radar.

It is anticipated Hodgson will complete the Premier League season with West Brom before taking charge for England’s two pre-Euro 2012 friendlies, against Norway in Oslo on May 26 and Belgium for his first game at Wembley, seven days later.

Even with Hodgson sitting down to meet the men expected to be his new bosses, it is still hard to believe Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp is going to be overlooked given the widespread clamour for his services.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, arriving at Spurs’ training ground yesterday morning, Redknapp insisted he bore no grudge at the job going to someone else.

“I don’t hold grudges, I don’t feel like that,” said Redknapp.

“There’s no problem. If Roy takes the job I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy. I’m sure he’ll be a big success.

“I still think England’s got some great players, I really do.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I think there’s some fantastic players in this country, some young players coming through, some great experienced players.

“I’m looking forward to the European Championships, looking forward to watching it.

“Life couldn’t be better, the sun’s shining, my health is good, I’m a very lucky man.”

England’s 1966 World Cup final hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst was among those who felt Redknapp was the ideal candidate.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, he does not believe Hodgson’s likely appointment will have a negative impact on the overall aims at Euro 2012.

“Whether we had a manager or not, I still think we are capable of getting to the semi-finals at least,” said Hurst.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t get to that level and if we can, you never know what could happen.

“Roy has not been involved in the preparations to date and that’s not ideal.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When you have a manager in place quite a while before, the preparation is going to be very natural, as it was with us in 1966.

“But, in some respects, I see that as a positive.

“It might take the pressure off, certainly from the media and the fans, to be successful this year.

“That could be a good thing because expectation is huge on the manager and the players.”

It is a sentiment echoed by England fans’ spokesman Mark Perryman, although he does not believe the Three Lions have any chance of reaching the last four, as Hurst has predicted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That does not mean Perryman is against Hodgson’s appointment.

Indeed, he thinks it is a good thing because the legend that has grown around Redknapp, including comparisons with the late Brian Clough, have irritated him somewhat.

“It is a ridiculous comparison,” said Perryman.

“Harry Redknapp has been a manager for 30 years and won one FA Cup.

“Brian Clough won two European Cups and lots of other trophies besides.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“To link the two doesn’t stand up at all. Clough was the greatest manager never to manage England. Harry is the populist choice, but so was Kevin Keegan and what an unmitigated disaster that turned out to be.

Roy Hodgson will be a steady hand on the tiller.

“He took Fulham to the Europa League final, which was a magnificent achievement, and on the basis that the best three managers around just now, Marcelo Bielsa, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, wouldn’t want the job, Hodgson is a good choice.”

Before his duties with West Brom are over, Hodgson is expected to name his 23-man Euro 2012 squad, possibly on May 10.