Roy Hodgson Appointed England Manager: 3 Bold Predictions for Euro 2012
England's prolonged search to fill the vacancy left by Fabio Capello's sudden departure from the national side back in February is finally over. Roy Hodgson was appointed the manager for the senior national side on a four-year contract Tuesday, and he will officially take over the role on May 14th when the Premier League season ends for his club side, West Bromwich Albion.
The Englishman faces not only the formidable task of heading the footballing-mad nation's national squad, but also getting the team ready to play in the European Championships this summer in Poland and Ukraine. England will face France (June 11th), Sweden (June 15th), and the co-hosts Ukraine (June 19th) in a tricky Group D.
Hodgson will rely heavily on his 30-plus years of managerial experience with clubs all across Europe, and his successful stints with the Swiss, Finnish and United Arab Emirates national sides.
As manager for Switzerland from 1992-1995 he took the team to the '94 USA World Cup, leading them into the Round of 16, where they lost to Spain. Not bad for a country that hadn't been to a major international tournament since the '66 World Cup.
With less than a month to prepare, select a squad, bring on coaches, play in two warm-up friendlies with Norway (May 26th) and Belgium (June 2nd), expectations have been tempered for England's Euro 2012 chances. However, Hodgson's record of success and reputation for tactical management might serve the Three Lions well come summertime. And despite the lowered expectations, Hodgson is certainly not coy about what he thinks England are capable of at Euro 2012. From UEFA.com:
"England have always got to go into a tournament with the aim of winning it because we're a major footballing nation. It will be difficult because I've come in at a rather late stage, but I think the players would be disappointed if I tried to do anything less."
England's roster of world-class talent certainly has the ability to match their best performances at the European Championships (third in 1968, semifinals in '96). The new manager would like nothing more than to help them overcome their historical underachievement's in Europe right from the start of his tenure.
John Terry Won't Be Part of the England Roster
It would be fair to assume that John Terry has been at the center of a media firestorm all year long.
His case of alleged using racially abusive language towards QPR's Anton Ferdinand, Rio's younger brother, was a major factor behind Capello leaving his post and thus making Hodgson's hire possible. Terry, the former England captain, must still face a London court in July in regards to the incident.
Only a week ago in Chelsea's Champion's League semifinal clash against Barcelona, Terry was sent off for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back. He put his team down to 10 men in the first half of a critical European decider, and Chelsea have to make due without him in the final against Bayern Munich's variety of attacking options.
While Rio and Terry form England's best and most experienced tandem in the central defense, I don't see how Terry's presence wouldn't be an unwanted distraction. And with that petulant piece of work at the Camp Nou, Terry further showed what an on-field liability he could become.
John Terry's recent behavior runs counter to Roy Hodgson's temperament and style. Despite the experience that comes with 72 international appearances, and Hodgson's recent comments regarding his desire for Terry-Ferdinand England talks, I don't think John Terry will be a member of England's Euro 2012 squad.
Scott Parker Will Wear the Captain's Armband
He's the safe pick but he's the right pick.
All of the other strong candidates carry some measure of baggage which would make their selection an opening for immediate criticism.
It can't and it won't be John Terry (again, I don't think he'll even be on the team) for obvious reasons. Rio Ferdinand, though not directly involved in the Terry mess, is of course linked to it via Anton, and has said to the BBC he doesn't want the armband anyway.
If veteran midfielder Steven Gerrard gets called up, he too has a history that bodes poorly for his chances. Gerrard was at Liverpool during Hodgson's tumultuous turn as the Anfield manager for a brief spell in 2010. Although Gerrard was amongst the first to publicly support the hiring, I'm not sure he'll be Hodgson's choice.
Frank Lampard has strong appeal, and is a worthy pick, but I envision that Hodgson will want to take things in his own direction.
Parker captained his first game for England in the 3-2 friendly loss to the Netherlands at Wembley back in February. He's been a consistent performer for Tottenham over the course of their last two seasons, winning ball after ball in the midfield and initiating Spurs' offense.
He's represented England on every level, and though he's already 31, he will continue to star with the Three Lions at the international level.
England Will Make the Semifinals
England's group is not easy.
France is always a quality side and a fierce rival.
Sweden has always given the English trouble, as the English have only won 29 percent of their matches versus the Swedes (only Brazil, Holland and Romania are historically tougher opponents).
Ukraine, though lacking in top-quality talent and pedigree, will be buoyed by home support.
But this England squad is laden with quality and feels unburdened from the overwhelming weight of expectations that usually accompany their competitions.
The French are an unproven commodity; Laurent Blanc's squad is young and talented, but not consistent enough to mount a serious campaign. At least not yet. In the game that will tilt English fate, I see England beating France in Donetsk on June 11th on their way to topping Group D.
In the latter stages of the tournament, England would first face the runner-up from the group with Spain, Italy, Ireland and Croatia. The path would be easier without having to face the defending European and world champions, but the English did recently beat the Spanish, 1-0, in a friendly this past November.
Hodgson has got international insight in Europe but a firm foundation in the English game. Even in a condensed amount of time, Hodgson can get the most out of a squad that provided they're fit, has the talent to beat anyone they line up against.
Although concerns linger about scoring sources while Wayne Rooney serves his two-game suspension and shoring up the back line, where England have been susceptible, I still believe the English are poised for a solid outing at Euro 2012.