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Roy Hodgson and His Surprisingly Easy Time in the Press

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2013

Roy Hodgson gets a surprisingly easy ride from the English press.

From the thinly-veiled xenophobia suffered by Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello, to the naked mockery of Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren, the press have a habit of making a punchline out of any manager that doesn't win the World Cup.

There is criticism of Hodgson of course, much of it hyperbolic but very little, if any of it, is personal. Perhaps it's because Hodgson is essentially a good man with honourable intentions, maybe promoted a little above his abilities. And perhaps it's not a surprise that a well-spoken middle-aged white man isn't crucified by the well-spoken middle-aged white men that make up the majority of the English press.

Hell, maybe journalists, sub-editors and newspapers have learned their lesson from the over-the-top vilification of managers past.

It was assumed by many that Hodgson, in the eyes of newspapermen everywhere, would have the 'original sin' of not being Harry Redknapp, and that he would suffer for being promoted above the man who gives the finest quotes and tip-offs in all the land.

But that doesn't seem to be the case.

It's surprising, not least when one looks at what Hodgson says.

For a start, his comments a couple of weeks ago about the depth of talent available in England went largely under-reported. More than likely, it was because it was while the transfer window was in full swing and there are only so many column inches to fill.

Hodgson said: "I saw a TV programme the other day talking about there being 240 English players in the Premier League. In that case, they must be including a lot of players I have never heard of.

"I would defy anyone to come up with 240 names. I can't name that many. I don't think, quite frankly, you'd be able to come up with 30 or 40."

Give most English football fans a pen, a bit of paper and ten minutes and they could probably come up with 50, but that wasn't the most extraordinary thing he said in that interview.

About his one-game spell as Under-21 coach, Hodgson said: "I came into contact with Jesse Lingard, whom I'd basically never heard of because I don't watch Under-21 football, plus Nick Powell, Tom Thorpe and Michael Keane, all from Manchester United."

If the England manager was genuinely ignorant of Jesse Lingard, one of the better young prospects in the country, then that's extraordinary.

Sure, Hodgson's priority is short-term, but imagine the furore if Capello or McClaren had said that in a quiet news week. 'England coach out of touch,' 'What are we paying him for?'the quills of the red-tops sharpen.

It's surprising Hodgson doesn't get into more trouble just through the pattern of his speech.

Hodgson is, at the most basic level, a bit too honest. If you ask him a question, the chances are he'll tell you the trutha rather wordy and convoluted version of the truth, but the truth nonetheless. That's basically how he ended up telling a commuter that Rio Ferdinand's international career was over.

Take his comments about England's injuries before the Moldova game: "We've not exactly been lucky have we? Now there's Daniel and there was Wayne (Rooney) and two potential right-backs in Glen Johnson and Phil Jones, and before that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. So we have lost five players and a few weeks ago I was really banking on them."

For a manager to comment that he was 'banking' on a couple of players that are no longer available suggests a man scrabbling around for ideas.

It also announces very loudly to the players that are selected that they are very much second-choice. Now, everyone knows that these players are second-choice, and Hodgson may not actually be scrabbling around for ideas, but the press generally deal in the world of perception.

It might not seem like it to him, but Hodgson is getting off quite lightly in this world.

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