Jimmy Bullard on Roy Hodgson, who England should get next and quality misconceptions

Jimmy Bullard Ladbrokes 2

The former Premier League midfielder tells HITC Sport that the Three Lions need to assess their present and plan for the future.

Jimmy Bullard Ladbrokes

England have already booked their tickets to the 2016 European Championship, with Roy Hodgson’s side guaranteed to be gunning for continental glory on French soil next summer.

Progress has been secured on the back of a so far faultless record in qualifying, with the Three Lions nine points clear at the top of Group E after collecting eight straight successes.

They are the only side yet to drop a point, while Poland are the only side to have plundered more goals, and Romania the only ones to have conceded on fewer occasions.

Life is rosy in the England garden right now, but there is also an acknowledgement that their qualification draw was favourable and that they have yet to be truly tested since their dismal showing at the 2014 World Cup.

You can only beat what is put in front of you, though, and Hodgson’s record at the helm makes for impressive reading.

He was not everybody’s first choice upon inheriting the reins from Fabio Capello - with Harry Redknapp seeing his claims talked up seemingly everywhere but the Football Association - but the wily tactician has shown himself to be a sensible, if a little cautious choice.

Former Premier League midfielder Jimmy Bullard worked with Hodgson during his time at Fulham, and he believes that the right man is at the helm.

He is, however, prepared to admit that he would like to see a statement made by the FA in their next appointment, with England in need of a modern coach, one proven at the highest level, if they are to move forward.

Speaking as part of Ladbrokes Rugby’s ‘Who’s Got The Balls’ campaign, Bullard told HITC Sport during a phone interview: “Roy Hodgson is a great manager, he knows his football inside out. Sometimes he is very defensive-minded, he concentrates more on defence than he does attacking. He’s a defending manager more than an attacking manager, for me.

“But, was there anyone better for the job when it was up for grabs? Not really. I think Roy was the man for the job, and I think he still is. Unless you are going to go and get a Pep Guardiola, I put Roy that high, he’s quality. I want to see the FA go and get Pep Guardiola, or someone, let’s see what difference that man can make to our football.”

Bullard feels England need to go down that route as they have been left trailing in the wake of other emerging nations as football’s appeal, and quality level expands across the globe.

He believes that there a remains a common misconception within the English game that success is to be taken for granted, with too many blind to the fact that issues from grass roots upwards have positioned the national team on a slippery slope.

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Bullard, who was drafted into the senior squad under Capello but never made it onto the field, added: “We’ve got to understand, we’re not world elite. We put ourselves on a pedestal. I have always said that we aren’t as good as we actually believe.

“There are a lot of countries... the world of football is growing a lot quicker now. It isn’t like 20 years ago, 30 years ago. Kids now can get their hands on laptops, YouTube and are learning at an age, and at a pace that some countries weren’t doing 20/30 years ago.

“Now you are getting these South American teams, not being funny, we aren’t going to be able to compete against them, they have quality players. Years ago we would have brushed them under the table, now they are good, they are top drawer. That’s what we have got to understand, that there are a lot more countries out there that are as good as us. We need to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in.

“I think for years we have put ourselves on a pedestal – I know it sounds horrible, but that’s what I think. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting, I have done for years, for us to pop the ball about and dictate a game. We don’t do it.”

That is not to say that England are not capable, or that they do not have the talent within their selection pool in which to adopt the philosophies of others.

It may take a leap of faith, though, from the FA or a future manager, before the shackles of being a quintessentially English side – solid yet unspectacular- are shaken for good and an exciting new dawn is welcomed in.

Watch Austin Healey and Jimmy Bullard challenge the values of football and rugby in 'Who's Got The Balls?' at LadbrokesRugby.com #RealBalls

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