Hodgson Needs To Find That First Big Win With England


Unlike with Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson isn’t surrounded with a media circus or much of a fanfare.

The sixty-six year old has been England’s manager for two years now and has gone about his business without too much fuss and getting respectable results. His sides have impressed and he hasn’t been scared to throw in youngsters if he believes they’ll enhance his nations chances.

But the one thing Roy needs is a big stand-out result against a good side.

I am not talking about friendlies, England have impressed and have failed to impress on friendly duty but those results mean very little. For me, the only purpose friendly fixtures serve is to help the coaches build a consistent core in the squad and try out new faces and tactics with the goal of being ready for the competitive matches.

At Euro 2012 Roy was thrown in the deep-end, only getting the job a month before the tournament started.

His squad wasn’t bad and they faired quite well at those Euros but they didn’t quite get an impressive, important result. They drew with France, which wasn’t bad. They also defeated Sweden and hosts Ukraine, those were good results but lets be honest they were to be expected.

They would go out of the tournament in the next stage, losing on penalties to Italy. It wasn’t a humiliating defeat but it was a valiant loss either. They fought hard to stop Italy winning but didn’t really attack the Italians in search of a win. It was as if they were playing for penalties, forgetting that their record in penalty shoot-outs is terrible.

Just look at the stats during that quarter-final against the ‘Azzurri’… Italy had 63% of the possession compared to Roy’s boys 37% and The Italians managed 31 shots (18 on target) compared to England’s 8 shots (4 on target).  Italy also won more corners and free-kicks. So again, it was by no means an upset that Italy won that tie.

England always seem to get easier qualifying groups and it was no different for this World Cup. Their group consisted of Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino. That isn’t really a group of death. But to be fair to Roy and his side you still need to get past these teams with Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren proving in the past that that isn’t always easy.

Impressively England would come out that group without suffering a defeat. But the four draws did raise a few eyebrows. They only managed to beat San Marino away from Wembley and they also slipped up at home with the Ukraine getting a 1-1 draw.

Again it was steady from England but no positive result that was unexpected or hugely impressive.

In the opening fixture to this World Cup campaign, England improved on their performance against Italy. They would go out and attack the Azzurri with Raheem Sterling looking very good in the whole behind the striker. England’s pace was always there and gave the Italians a big headache. The ‘Three Lions’ also defeated their Italian counterparts on the shots at goal stats but alas it was all in vain as wily Italy made their chances and possession count with a deserved 2-1 victory.


Now the English have to face Uruguay, in a game neither team can afford to lose. Uruguay were a side that were fancied as ‘Dark Horses’ before the tournament kicked-off.

But they were brought down to earth, when gutsy Costa Rica pummelled them to submit a lead and would end up losing the match by three goals to one.

Some might say that the Uruguayans are their for the taking. They have a dodgy defence and a few injuries in their ranks. One of those suffering is Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, one of his countries main threats. A lot of observers think that ‘Los Charrúas’ as a team peaked back in 2010 and are now on their way out, a bit like Spain.

But Roy Hodgson will be wary of the wounded animal. Their must be a reason why Uruguay are ranked seventh in the world, not just because the Fifa rankings are useless. Suarez may just have needed those extra few days to recover and he could appear tonight to wreak havoc against the English. They also have Edinson Cavani who has proven in the recent past that he is a world-class talent. Diego Forlan might now be thirty-five but he can still cause damage. Plus they have players like Gaston Ramirez and Abel Hernandez that can come in and cause problems too.

The fact that they are also South Americans playing at a World Cup in South America can’t be overlooked either. Passion and pride will come into play.

Roy really does need this victory and he has to decide once and for all what to do with Wayne Rooney. For me, its a question on whether or not to play Wayne in the centre or just drop him. I’ve said many a time I’m a Rooney fan. I don’t think he is on the same level as a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but he is one of England’s best players.

But tactics and a team’s style is hugely important in international football. If Wayne or anyone else for that matter doesn’t fit in, then they should be benched.

I’d also expect more from the midfield duo that Roy selects. Too many times Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson let the game pass them by against Italy. The two forwards that occupy the wide roles need to be better balanced and disciplined. They need to trackback and juggle that with their attacking aspirations. An early goal would be brilliant for England and a major blow for Uruguay. If the South American side then return to dirty tactics’ it’s important that the English side don’t react and lose their cool.

Should Roy and the squad defeat Uruguay tonight, then I’d class that as his biggest win to date. They don’t come into this match as overwhelming favourites and despite their previous outing Uruguay are still a decent outfit that could cause anyone problems. A victory would spur the English on and give them a boost in confidence.

A draw would keep Roy exactly where he is at the moment, an average yet likeable coach. They would need to then beat Costa Rica and that can’t be seen as an easy victory! Especially considering all the Central Americans would need is a draw to go through.

A defeat would mean disaster for England and Hodgson. The nation would be out of the tournament before the last group match and the manger would surely be out on his ear.

So this is a huge, huge game for England. Time for Roy Hodgson to prove that he has the nous to win the big games!

One Response to “Hodgson Needs To Find That First Big Win With England”

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