Ex-England manager Glenn Hoddle has signed on to write a weekly column for Bleacher Report UK. Learn more out about Glenn's exciting new website venture, Zapsportz, here.
My advice to England manager Roy Hodgson is not to worry about the World Cup draw; it will drive him nuts in Brazil!
From my own experiences of leading England to the 1998 World Cup in France, I sympathise with what Roy will be going through as he waits for his first World Cup draw. I can tell him now, it will throw up a tricky group, even if it looks like a lucky draw for England.
Will it be Brazil? Will it be Ivory Coast?
England will face a tough group regardless, as traditionally we have always found it difficult to manoeuvre through the first stage of the tournament. The group stage is never easy, irrespective of who you draw.
The problem this time is that England are not seeded, so they are going to get a tougher than usual draw. That doesn’t necessarily mean England have no chance—even if they struggle to emerge from the group.
Italy were terrible in the group stage in 1982 and went on to win the World Cup. England were awful in the group stage at Italia 90 but then went on to recover and should have reached the Final.
The first real battle is to get yourself out of the group stage and so much depends on luck. Injuries or suspensions to key players are pivotal; refereeing decisions are key; you can hit the post and lose a game—so much will turn on so little.
What could have been in 1998 and beyond
So much of that happened to us at the France World Cup, in our game with Argentina. We should have won with 11 men, should have won with 10 men, should have had a golden goal that was disallowed, a handball the ref missed and so it went on and on.
It is fair to say that I have ‘unfinished business” with England, as we could have gone on with that group of players and won the European Championships, for sure.
I felt we should have beaten Argentina in the World Cup and were deprived at a crack at winning the World Cup because of bad refereeing decisions. I was so proud of the way the lads played that day and in the tournament.
I will never forget that half of our team were in a massive huddle celebrating the winning goal—the golden goal. We were waving furiously as the ref didn’t give it and they were on the attack with half of our team up the other end of the pitch.
It was a very emotional experience for me, because of the way we played and the fact that we should have won it and deserved to have won it.
The shape of the team, the enticing mixture of young and experienced players and the way the players were being allowed to express themselves—we had real pace in the team and I really had a good feeling about the Euros.
We had a young Michael Owen, David Beckham and Paul Scholes while Rio Ferdinand was coming through and would play an important role in the way I was shaping the team. Rio was a 19-year-old and developing into a special defender, particularly for the system I was developing.
We also had the nicely maturing Paul Ince and Alan Shearer with David Seaman still there.
I felt we were ready for an onslaught on the European Championships. It was for me the creme de la creme to coach England and I adopted an inventive style—something different, certainly one that no England coach has tried.
*Zapsportz.com is an exciting new website where Glenn Hoddle reveals how kids from all over the world can enter the X-Factor-style Zapstarz, the former England manager's search for a new generation of footballing talent.
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