Roy Hodgson has no intention of “begging” the Football Association to keep his job as England manager once his side’s participation at the European Championship is concluded but believes he would oversee notable progress if given the chance to carry on.
England take on Iceland in Monday’s last-16 tie in Nice seeking a first knockout win in a decade, and Hodgson’s decision to make six changes for last week’s final group fixture against Slovakia has left senior figures within the FA questioning whether he had jeopardised the team’s chances of progress into the latter stages. The revamped side’s failure to win that game condemned them to second place and the more daunting half of the draw and the FA’s outgoing chairman, Greg Dyke, had made clear England may have to reach the semi-finals to guarantee Hodgson earns a contract extension through to the 2018 World Cup.
The manager’s current deal expires at the end of this tournament but, while he has been taken aback by the level of criticism aimed at him since the Slovakia stalemate, he has no regrets over his team selection and would speak to the FA about a new deal if they indicated a desire to retain him. “I am prepared to carry on,” Hodgson said. “It is different to ‘wanting’ it. I’m prepared to carry on if the FA want me to. If they don’t want me to then my contract will have run out and that is how that will be.
“So, I’m not begging for the job. I believe in what I’ve done, in particular over the last couple of years. I believe in the team I am working with and I believe the team is showing such potential that it will go on and do good things. If the FA want me to continue with me looking after them I will be happy to do so. I think this can be the start of something. I know that I and my coaching staff are capable of carrying on. But the FA will make the decision on what they want to do. One hopes they will do it on their thinking, their observations and their judgment and analysis on what is happening with the national team, and not because some journalist has written something contrary to that.”
Given Dyke’s untimely comments in an interview conducted last weekend – in which he stated “semi-finals would be great; quarter-finals if we play well and meet one of the best sides and unfortunately lost or went out on penalties” – it seems inconceivable that the manager would be offered new terms if England succumb to Iceland. They are ranked No34 in the world and have never previously qualified for a major tournament, for all that their manager, Lars Lagerback, never lost to the English in six matches while in charge of his native Sweden.
Hodgson is expected to recall Harry Kane up front, Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli in midfield, and the Tottenham Hotspur full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose with Jamie Vardy, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne stepping down. Asked if he agreed his prospects of being retained would be wrecked should his team succumb in Nice, Hodgson added: “I am not even contemplating going out to Iceland. I haven’t contemplated losing a game yet, I’ve had to accept two draws that I would have liked to have seen us win.
“So I am not contemplating anything there. As far as I’m concerned I will prepare the team for Iceland, we will do the best we can to win the game and then, after the game, we will either be heavily criticised as we haven’t won it or, with any luck, if we played well and won then people will maybe say we did well.”
England (4-3-3; probable): Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Alli, Dier, Rooney; Sturridge, Kane, Lallana
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