With his contract set to expire after the European Championships, Roy Hodgson is facing up to the final few months of his time as England manager.
As it stands Hodgson won’t be remembered for redefining England’s playing style, or helping guide the English FA towards innovative coaching methods to improve the countries talent pool, or managing to inspire a nation throughout an International tournament.
Instead Hodgson will be remembered for being the man behind Martin Kelly’s one England cap, for sending the football world into fits of uncontrollable laughter after labelling Jack Colback as the ‘Ginger Pirlo’ and for his ill-thought-out joke back in October 2013 which embroiled him in a ‘race row’.
Given the surge of optimism which surrounds England after Saturday’s impressive win against Germany and the fact England qualified for this summer’s European Championships with a clean-sweep of ten wins from ten – some may find such scepticism harsh.
However there’s no getting away from it, England have generally been a dour spectacle under Hodgson and whilst that was forgivable in the opening stages of his time in charge – having been thrown into Euro 2012 after a very late appointment – the 68-year-old has so far failed to develop any sort of clear identity to which England can abide by.
There have been brief attempts to try and imitate Spain’s famed possession based game; without the desired fortitude or commitment to make it work. After quickly shelving those plans Hodgson and co reverted back to a more conservative, reactive mindset with the simple aim of being resolute; which succeeded in draining any creativity and entertainment value out of the side.
Now the focus has shifted onto a more counter-attacking, high-pressing approach which was deployed effectively on Saturday night and is likely to be the basis for England’s campaign this summer in France.
Saturday’s result and general performance shows that all is not lost for Hodgson if he is willing to show the mettle for a more expansive approach, more crucially with players who are eager to establish themselves.
Such viewpoint means that regulars such as Wayne Rooney, James Milner and Gary Cahill will have to be overlooked when it comes to the starting eleven – something which Hodgson is likely to fail to address given the fact one is his Captain, and the other two are being viewed as his deputies.
But England need to embrace the new wave of players breaking through and afford them the same platform to express themselves as they are at club level.
The emergence of Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Harry Kane and John Stones should be encouraged alongside the likes of Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling who have already sampled a senior international tournament.
With the aforementioned mentioned talent rising to prominence, coupled with other much more established players coming into their prime, there’s no reason why progressive football cannot be achieved.
Something not too dissimilar happened in Germany which ultimately accumulated in them lifting the World Cup in 2014. Joachim Löw was the mastermind behind such achievement but it was in the previous World Cup back in 2010 where he really set the tone.
Löw put his faith in the youth of Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil back then in a tournament where they won many admirers – eventually crashing out in the Semi-Finals to eventual winners Spain.
Following said route would breathe new life into what has become a very stagnant English set-up and given just how open the European Championships are set to be this summer, it would give England their best chance at a genuine challenge for glory this summer, let alone in the years to come.
Looking towards the Semi-Finals as a genuine target shouldn’t be frowned upon but the reliance on Hodgson embracing change isn’t just monumental for England’s hopes, it will also be what defines Hodgson’s time as England manager.