Roy Hodgson took over the reigns of the country when he was appointed England manager last summer.
He has faced some of the toughest decisions, controversial incidents and media scrutiny of his career but, as any other England manager would tell him, that goes with the territory.
It’s a bizarre position to take up for any football manager – managing a national team is almost completely unlike managing at club level.
The pressure and expectation are one hundred times more intense, yet the amount of time they actually spend with the players is so much less and, in the end, it’s a lot less about football.
Half the time the England manager is expected to function as an unofficial public relations manager for the Football Association.
The other half of the time, they find themselves the victim of the media’s relentless build ‘em up and knock ‘em down ritual, designed entirely to inflate the hopes of a nation to sell papers only to burst the collective bubble when it all ends in tears.
They sing his praises when they’re winning and he’s the scapegoat if they don’t. It really is a tightrope – I’d almost feel sorry for Hodgson if he wasn’t earning £3 million a year in wages plus some change in bonuses.
But how is Hodgson doing so far? He is expected to be the man to take England all the way in Brazil next year and after England’s 8-0 rout over San Marino last week you wouldn’t bet against him. However, San Marino are the lowest ranked national side in the world presently. Still, there’s hope.
In actuality Roy Hodgson’s England are ranked fourth in the world by FIFA (they were fifth after their Euro 2012 display) only behind Spain, Germany and Argentina. They are even placed above Italy who beat them on penalties in the quarterfinals of the European Championships last summer.
Roy Hodgson’s England have lost just one game since then –against Sweden. They’ve beaten Brazil, Norway, Belgium, Ukraine, Moldova, Switzerland and San Marino and have drawn with France and Poland. They’ve scored 18 goals in their last 5 games, conceding just 4.
That is a pretty impressive, regardless of the calibre of the opposition – after all, you can’t only beat what’s in front of you. In front of England next is Montenegro and they’ll be hoping they can keep up their momentum heading into the final fixtures of the World Cup 2014 qualifiers.
They currently sit second in their group (Group H) and will be hoping to overtake the leaders Montenegro as swiftly and surely a possible.
How has Roy Hodgson done so far? Just fine – it’s all going to plan…
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