Hodgson restores unity, pride in England team
Roy Hodgson has won universal plaudits for quickly restoring
unity and pride among England players barely a month after being
hired to lead the country into the European Championship.
The coach took over from Fabio Capello three months after the
Italian vacated the job. After a miserable 2010 World Cup
performance, a reinvigorated England squad will march into its Euro
2012 quarterfinal against Italy on Sunday with confidence.
The 64-year-old Hodgson has generated a feel-good factor in the
squad, which was often lacking during Capello’s authoritarian
”We are more organized than ever and the lads have been
great,” England striker Wayne Rooney said. ”We are all fighting
for each other. We want to do this together. We feel good, we are
A shrewd move by Hodgson was giving recently retired defender
Gary Neville his first coaching job, providing a link from
management to the squad while providing fresh tactical insight.
Neville can see how the players are benefiting working with a
manager who is ”calm, doesn’t sort of get carried away by things,
brings a great deal of humility, trusts in his players and has
faith in them.”
”They are recognizing that he is someone they like and want to
play for and I think that’s important,” Neville added.
Selflessness has been drilled into the team by Hodgson.
”If you want to be successful you have to perform to your
ability and trust the people around you to perform to theirs,” the
coach said. ”Any national team is going to have players with egos
– that’s normal. You want that because it’s the player with the ego
who is often the one who makes the difference.
”But I am very happy with the way these players have worked for
Capello often petrified players by ruling with an iron fist,
notoriously banning tomato ketchup from dinner. Whereas winger Theo
Walcott and his teammates often had to sneak food into the team
hotel under Capello’s regime, Hodgson has removed the need to
report to dinner each night during Euro 2012.
”Roy’s come in and he’s obviously given us a lot of rest time
as well and a lot of downtime,” Rooney said. ”It’s good for the
players to relax and obviously put football aside for even just one
afternoon. It’s good to give your mind a rest.”
Goalkeeper Joe Hart stresses that the freedom given to roam
Krakow doesn’t mean the players are any less professional.
”We’re here to play football, regardless of whether we’re
allowed to walk round and see a nice statue or whatever, or have a
pizza with someone that we want to be with,” Hart said. ”I think
we’re training hard, I think we’re getting the manager’s
On the pitch, Hodgson has drilled discipline into the team.
While the football hasn’t been scintillating, they are five matches
unbeaten under the former Switzerland, Finland and United Arab
”He plays a different style to the previous manager,” winger
James Milner said. ”He wants us tucked in, compact and tight and
to be difficult to beat and it has worked so far.”
Hodgson’s fellow coaches also have been impressed.
”Roy Hodgson is an Italian Englishman,” Manchester City
manager Roberto Mancini told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello
Sport. ”He is intelligent, good and crafty … England wait for
their opponents and hit them on the counterattack. This is the kind
of football that we, Italians, were masters at for a long time.
They have understood that winning is what matters.”
They also understand what their London-born coach is saying,
unlike with Capello and his broken English. And it helps that
Hodgson had previously worked with captain Steven Gerrard during
his brief stint as Liverpool manager.
”We are enjoying how we are playing,” Gerrard said. ”Everyone
knows in South Africa the team weren’t playing at a good
Even the notoriously judgmental media back home is gushing about
how Hodgson has utilized 36 years of coaching experience – largely
outside his homeland – to transform England’s fortunes.
”It looks to me like Roy has got into their heads and reminded
the players that playing for their country means something,”
former England midfielder Jamie Redknapp wrote in the Daily
”This group of players, under a new manager, seem to have a
pride in their work,” added Redknapp, whose father Harry was
beaten to the England job by Hodgson.
Hodgson will be hoping his honeymoon period continues long after
the team finally leaves the Euros. Potentially, even with a