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Why Roy Is the Wrong Man for the Job

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It was different this time. Expectations were at an all time low and we were left scratching our heads in bemusement as to how a pub team like England qualified for this tournament to stand shoulder to shoulder with giants Sweden, Ukraine and France (ranked 17th, 52nd and 14th respectively).

What an astute decision by the FA to select Hodgson over Redknapp, we were told. We were now the international equivalent of West Brom or Fulham, who he took to the UEFA Cup Final in 2010. We decided we needed a manager who would defend and hope for the best. Maybe we could even 'do a Chelsea' but in all honesty we would have been delighted just to get out of the group.

Except that England arrived in Poland ranked 6th in the world, bettered only by Germany, Spain and the volatile Dutch. This is not just luck and nonsense; it is based on a team's performance over the last four years. Yes there are anomalies - Uruguay are not the second best team in the world - but all in all it is a pretty good indicator of where a team are in international football standings.

Now we anticipate the customary calls for better training facilities to impart ball retention skills on our players. There will also be the inevitable 'Hargreaves Syndrome'. That is, the players who improve the most are those who did not play, as Hargreaves grew as a player beyond the realms of his own wildest dreams without kicking a ball during the World Cup in South Africa. This time Wilshire had a fantastic Euro 2012. Not to mention Kyle Walker. In normal circumstances, the manager would be hounded out, but we as a nation have settled for the quarter finals.

Yes we did miss Walker and Wilshire, but the problem is not ball retention. Are you telling me the likes of Champions League winners Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard do not have the requisite ability to retain the majority of possession against Ukraine, the 52nd best side in the world, with not a single player who could play in the top half of the Premier League?

England started each game with four Champions League winners in Gerrard, Rooney, Terry and Cole as a base. There was also a whole host of Premier League winners in there, the most recent of which, Lescott and Milner, played alongside the likes of Balotelli and Silva in extravagant style all season.

And a team so good it could do without one of the best defenders of all time in Rio Ferdinand in the interest of squad harmony - a luxury decision that most teams do not have.

A bench so good that nobody raised an eyebrow when Aaron Lennon, the man who single handedly ripped apart AC Milan at the San Siro to knock the Italian champions out of the Champions League, failed to make the squad. Remind me, who was the manager that masterminded that tactical victory against all the odds?

Why did England surrender 60% of possession to Ukraine, 65% to France and over half to Sweden? And how did Italy, with a far worse team than England, Pirlo apart, have 36 shots to our 9?

Tactics. 4-4-2 is not good enough, Roy, not anymore. Not against the Germans, the Spanish, nor the Italians. Ukraine and Sweden were too tactically cute and progressive for us. Our two ageing central midfielders gave absolutely everything to the cause but time and time again they were outnumbered in the centre of the park.

With their fullbacks overlapping, Italy had four players with excellent movement swanning around the centre of midfield. To combat this, particularly as Pirlo took control of the game, England were crying out for an added presence in midfield. There was no Wilshire, Carrick or Lampard - so what? If you pick Henderson - which most people would agree was as bizarre a decision as the inclusion of Martin Kelly over Rio - then play him or Phil Jones.

There would have been an entirely different flow to the game had Phil Jones or Michael Carrick started alongside Parker, with Gerrard slightly ahead, behind Rooney. Maybe we would have lost anyway, but not like that.

Past England teams have had all the style and skill with none of the luck. It is a fallacy to suggest we can't produce players who hold on to the ball with Beckham, Scholes, Gerrard, Lampard et al. This year was as though all the luck we missed out on in recent years was finally let loose - the penalty shootout again a step too far.

I like Roy Hodgson, he makes me proud to support England. He speaks several languages, oozes respect and manners and so forth. He is the most likeable manager since El Tel. But I can't help feeling the FA missed a trick by letting Redknapp slip by. I'm not looking forward to four more years of this style of football and I'm not alone.

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