Hodgson vows to win over Euro sceptics

AFP, Wednesday 2 May 2012

Hodgson was unveiled as England manager by the Football Association on Tuesday

Roy Hodgson
Newly appointed England soccer manager Roy Hodgson poses for a photograph in the tunnel at Wembley Stadium in London Tuesday May 1, 2012. Hodgson was appointed England manager on a four-year contract on Tuesday, ending months of speculation over who would lead the national team to next month's European Championship. . (Photo: AP)

Roy Hodgson insists he can win over the sceptics following his surprising appointment to the England manager's job ahead of Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp.

Hodgson was unveiled as England manager by the Football Association on Tuesday after emerging as the shock choice to succeed Fabio Capello following the Italian's resignation in February.

The 64-year-old's elevation to the poisoned chalice of English football came amid a lingering sense of incredulity that the FA had not sounded out Redknapp as a possible candidate for the role.

However Hodgson, whose long career includes stints as coach of Switzerland and Inter Milan, is confident that his experience of elite management will equip him for the task of convincing his detractors.

The most important audience will be England's senior squad, several of whom such as Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Jack Wilshere had already issued public calls for Redknapp to be appointed back in February.

"Every coach has got to win over players," Hodgson acknowledged. "It won't be the first time I've stepped into a job where I'm meeting a group of players, many of whom I don't know, and my job is to win them over.

"I'd like to think that given my CV, given the work I've done over the years I've succeeded fairly well with that.

"Every coach's job when he enters a new job is to win the players over and make sure he gets the players united behind our cause. And our cause is a very big one -- we're England. It interests an awful lot of people."

Hodgson now faces a frantic few weeks as he sifts through his options ahead of naming a 23-man squad for the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.

His first match in charge will be a friendly against Norway in Oslo on May 26, a first and only run-out before he names his squad on May 29.


A further friendly against Belgium is set for June 2 before England depart for their Euro 2012 training base in Poland on June 6.

"It's going to be difficult of course but hopefully I've got a lot of time on my hands to think about it," Hodgson said.

"I've been working in the country for the last five years so all of the players are pretty well known to me even if I haven't worked with a lot of them.

"It's going to be very important to get straight down to the task of making certain that when the time comes to announce the squad that I've done as much research as I can and spoken to as many players as I can."

However Hodgson would not be drawn on some of the thorny issues that he will need to address early in his reign, most pointedly whether John Terry and Rio Ferdinand can co-exist in the same squad. Terry is currently facing trial for racially abusing Ferdinand's younger brother Anton, charges he strongly denies.

"I think the important thing at the moment is to speak to as many players as possible and of course John and Rio are going to be two that I need to speak to," Hodgson told reporters.

"I can't answer your question at this moment in time before I've had a chance to sit down with them or reach them on the telephone."

Hodgson meanwhile insisted he was capable of dealing with the raised expectations that accompany any England manager.

"I understand it. We all know that the England manager's job is the pinnacle of success for every English manager and we know that it brings a lot of scrutiny and a lot of criticism and I've got to be prepared for that," he said.

Hodgson was given a foretaste of the sort of increased scrutiny he will have to get used to when he was asked a question about his decision to play professional football in South Africa during the apartheid era.

"I've got to admit quite young at the time I went there purely for professional reasons: I was desperate to play professional football on a full-time basis," Hodgson said.

"I really didn't give the political system that much thought. It certainly didn't play a part in my position.

"So I think it's really slightly unfair in today's world where we are discussing racism, to go back 40 years and try to criticise a decision I made for purely football reasons."

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