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.