Football pundit and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has praised the Football Association’s decision to appoint Roy Hodgson as England manager.
The position has been vacant since Fabio Capello’s resignation in February, and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp heavily tipped to take over the role.
However, in a shock move, the FA appointed West Brom manager Roy Hodgson last Tuesday.
Writing in his column for the Mail on Sunday, Neville said: “No one can deny that it was a shock on Sunday night when it became clear that Roy Hodgson had been approached to be England manager.
“Everyone had been lured into thinking that Harry Redknapp would get the job, and that is who I would have picked as my candidate.
“But once the initial surprise had gone and you examined their records, and their strengths and weaknesses side by side, it was impossible to say that Harry Redknapp’s credentials were a million times better than Roy Hodgson’s.
“They were both good candidates offering very different qualities for the job, and you can make a good case for either.”
Hodgson has previous experience at international level, namely taking Switzerland to their first tournament for 28 years in the 1994 World Cup.
But Neville believes the 64-year-old’s unsuccessful six-month stint as Liverpool manager will stand him in good stead when handling the intense media and public pressures associated with the national team post.
“People might point to his failure at Liverpool, but in terms of the intensity of the job, the importance of each result to the city and to millions of fans worldwide, it’s probably the closest you could get to the England job and might have helped prepare him,” he explained.
The veteran defender was eager not to play down Hodgson’s managerial abilities, and stated a poor Euro 2012 tournament for England could be to do with much more than just tactics and knowledge.
“If Hodgson fails, it won’t be because of his coaching ability or tactical knowledge — those are second to none.” he said. “But the England job is about much more.
“There are so many pressures and I’ve seen good men diminished by the job, becoming a shadow of their true selves, because of the demands.
“Hodgson has admitted in an interview in this newspaper today that if he has a weakness, it’s more likely to be in dealing with the media. That’s why he needs a very strong media team behind him.”
- Sports & Recreation