So, Roy Hodgson is the new manager of England. He has a very solid CV and in recent times – doomed Liverpool spell aside – he’s done some impressive things. He nearly took Finland to the last European Championships in 2008 and took Fulham to the final of the Europa League, beating Juventus along the way. He’s also turned West Bromwich Albion into a solid mid-table Premier League outfit whilst their Midlands competitors (Aston Villa and Wolves) struggle. He is the ideal candidate.
Oh wait, hang on. He’s actually the wrong candidate because it was Harry Redknapp all along that everyone was talking about and he was the man that everyone thought should be manager. But, it turns out Roy Hodgson is unfit for the job because he isn’t Harry Redknapp.
One of the above narratives is written by someone who is a level-headed follower of football; the other appears to be the opinion of the media at large. It doesn’t take long to work out which is which.
It’s no secret that the media wanted Redknapp to take the post. Why? Well for a start he is a favourite among journalists because he gives good quotes that make headlines. Hodgson isn’t exactly on bad terms with the press either, but to them he is dull and a bit boring. He might be a step up from the unfriendly demeanour of Fabio Capello, but he’s not as colourful and exciting as past England bosses like Kevin Keegan and Sven-Göran Eriksson. Sod the fact they were both unsuccessful, they at least had a personality. Because that’s what really matters, after all.
So, once the media determined on who the England manager should be, it began to write stories that gossiped and probed and tantalised about the fantasy scenario to the point where it was starting to believe its own assumption. There was no inside information to play with – the FA has kept its cards close to its chest throughout – but it didn’t stop anything. Soon, everyone in football from players to fellow managers started to believe the information being supplied to them by the press – information built on nothing but hope.
Tony Pulis inadvertently summed up the situation perfectly when he said on the BBC’s unsuccessful comedy-and-sometimes-about-football show Match Of The Day 2: “Everyone thought Redknapp would be the best man for the job.” The reaction to Hodgson’s appointment has been one of disbelief. This is understandable since all the signs pointed towards Redknapp being offered the post. It’s amusing, because all the signs had been invented by that which is tasked with reporting the facts – the media itself.