Roy Hodgson Has Tough World Cup Choice but There Are Harder Calls for a Manager

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Roy Hodgson Has Tough World Cup Choice but There Are Harder Calls for a Manager
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As Roy Hodgson leads his England team off to training camp in Portugal on Monday, I would like to send them off with a message of hope.

Few people will give England much chance of winning in Brazil, but my message is that anything is possible.

Perhaps it's time England were due a bit of luck; they haven’t had much fortune in major tournaments since actually winning the World Cup in 1966. 

The good luck seemed to run out with the famous incident regarding whether the ball crossed the line or not for Geoff Hurst's second and England's third goal in that year's final against West Germany.

Associated Press

Since 1966, so much has conspired against England, such as Peter Bonetti having to take over from Gordon Banks in 1970 and Diego Maradona’s "Hand of God" goal in 1986.

Penalty shootouts have been painful, especially the one close to my heart against Argentina in 1998, when a Sol Campbell goal should have stood and given us the victory. At Italia 90, some big decisions also went against England in the semi-final against Germany.

We will need refereeing decisions to go our way and for the spine of the team to avoid suspensions and injuries in Brazil. With such luck on their side, who knows how far the team could go this year?

Hodgson is taking a number of players to the training camp who will also be living in hope that they might emerge from the standby list. At least they know they will be heading home in advance and that the England boss will get the opportunity to tell them face to face, so the disappointment might not be so great.

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Hodgson will have broken Ashley Cole and Jermain Defoe’s hearts when he told them they wouldn’t be going to Brazil.

While it might seem the hardest thing a manager will ever do, I found telling a group of kids at Swindon that their time at the club was up even more upsetting.

Irrespective of how many times Cole had played for his country, to be told he had failed to make the cut for this World Cup squad was a devastating blow, as the player himself made clear on his Twitter account.

I went through the same thing as England manager, telling seven outstanding internationals, including Paul Gascoigne, that they were not in my squad for the World Cup in France in 1998.

When that moment came, my mind flashed back to my days as Swindon manager and calling kids into my office whose careers I might well have been finishing before they had started.

There were five or six youngsters back at Swindon who, at the age of 18, had to be told they were not being kept on. They broke down in my office—that was a real killer.

You have to go through this kind of experience as a manager—it's part of learning your trade. But there are actually even tougher aspects of the job.

I had named a provisional squad of 30 for a Wembley friendly with Saudi Arabia before we flew out to La Manga in Spain, where decisions had to be made to cut eight players from the final squad.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Injury ruled out Ian Wright and Jamie Redknapp, so only six names had to be found, with Gascoigne, Ian Walker, Phil Neville, Andy Hinchcliffe, Nicky Butt and Dion Dublin the ones to miss out.

I broke the news to them a day earlier than the planned announcement.

Though Gascoigne took the decision extremely badly, what is seldom mentioned is the fact that I had taken him to one side much earlier in the season and told him to keep himself sharp and fit, but he turned up injured.

With time running out, you have to decide whether to take a risk with people or not—every England manager goes through it. 

It still wasn't as difficult as telling those kids at Swindon.

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