The Three Lions face Poland this evening with the chance to book a World Cup place, but the former West Brom boss will be under immense pressure if the correct result is not achieved.
England enter tonight’s clash with Poland knowing that they need to pick up three points. Ukraine are in the wings ready to steal top spot in the pool if the Three Lions slip up, and haunting memories of 1973 when the Poles prevented England from qualification to a World Cup are still in the memory.
For Hodgson personally, qualification for the tournament in Brazil is an absolute must. The ex-Fulham boss was something of a questionable appointment, given the popularity of Harry Redknapp, and with ambitious Greg Dyke at the head of the FA, a presence at the World Cup is the bare minimum requirement for Hodgson.
With the footballing history in England, the potential and ability of the players in the squad and the moderate standing of Poland, the hosts should be good enough to book an automatic place at the World Cup.
If the worst happens and Poland throw a spanner in the works, a number of strong teams could pose as difficult opponents in the play-offs. France and Portugal are set to have to go through the winner-takes-all clashes, and Hodgson will be desperate to avoid the same fate.
Given the strength of the Premier League, expectations of England reaching the final stages of a major international tournament are there for all to see. With their fate in their own hands, if Hodgson cannot guide the English side past Poland tonight there could well be a loss of confidence in the manager’s ability and credibility for the position.
Although the English side are going through something of a transitional period with stalwarts such as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand no longer available and young stars breaking into the set-up, the FA and the public are not willing to accept a delay in progress.
Failure to make it to the World Cup would have the powers that be surely considering Hodgson’s role, and there is every chance that the head coach could be relieved of his duties if England do not qualify for the competition in Brazil.
Hodgson showed ambition with his team selection against Montenegro, and the inclusion of the attacking-minded players won the game for him. A similarly bullish approach is needed against the Poles, as caution could cost England a place at the World Cup and Hodgson his job.
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