The appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager was a surprise to most, but it wasn’t necessarily an unwelcome one. Try telling that to certain sections of the media. Not satisfied with telling us that they wanted Harry Redknapp to replace Fabio Capello, they told us that we wanted it too.
If you deke around one tabloid journalist bleating on about how the Football Association should hurry up and crown the supposed public choice, you turn face first into the inane chatter on BBC Breakfast about how everyone wants Harry, don’t they, because he won something once. And only once, let’s not forget.
We all know why the tabloid press wanted Redknapp and we all knew that the knives would be out for any man appointed ahead of him. Never mind the comparative CVs or the suitability of candidates – Redknapp was the flavour of the month and his pals finally got the opportunity to carry him into the job of jobs in a sedan chair and reap the benefits.
The bitterness with which some publications have “welcomed” Hodgson into the England job is downright pathetic. Unfair criticism was always on the cards, but The Sun‘s front page (pictured above) was quite ridiculous. Hodgson, for the uninitiated, has a speech impediment which affects the way he pronounces the letter ‘R’.
“Bwing on the Euwos” is the most childish of barrel-scrapings, a needless and irrelevant swipe at a man whose new role does not, as far as I can tell, require him to pronounce every syllable with the elocution of an Edwardian butler. The FA announced later that both it and the Press Complaints Commission had been contacted about the front page, but Hodgson’s new employers have elected not to make a formal complaint.
Let’s have a closer look at Nick Parker and Alex Peake‘s article:
“He saluted beaten favourite Harry Redknapp — and said: “We have unwittingly become rivals but I hope we will remain friends.” Hodgson revealed people’s choice Redknapp had left a voicemail congratulating him on securing football’s top job…The 65-year-old Spurs chief was 1/3 favourite to land the Three Lions post and had overwhelming support across the nation.”
That type of rhetoric is subtle, but its message is clear. Not only did we want Redknapp, YOU wanted him as well. And instead, you’ve got a guy who can’t even say his own name properly, which we’ve hilariously pointed out for you on the front page of a national newspaper like schoolyard bullies.
Steven Howard, meanwhile, appears to be arguing that there is a long list of reasons why Hodgson was the easy choice in spite of the more logical assertion that Redknapp would be the easy choice given Fleet Street’s constant and nauseatingly transparent campaign in favour of their mate’s installation:
“Here are the three reasons why Hodgson is the man. When it comes to the FA and England managers, it has been pantomime season for as long as we can remember. This time they do not want any trouble. They do not want cupboards and skeletons — and they have it in this son of a Croydon bus driver. They want a nice, easy ride. Over the next few days, the FA will let it be known just why Hodgson ticks all the boxes. How he has all the coaching badges.
And so it goes on, and on, and on, until closing with yet more seeding of thoughts in a public consciousness incapable of independent thought and – if I’m not mistaken – a thinly-veiled promise that there will be no easy ride for the new England boss (and a sly mention of his speech impediment, naturally):
“Hodgson once said it was NOT his ambition to manage England. The most important thing was to enjoy himself. Best of luck on that front, Woy!”
One man who’s done himself no favours this week is Martin Samuel, who now proudly has an array of spurious and irrelevant digs at Hodgson to his name. We know that the England players don’t back him because they haven’t tweeted about it, and to be fair Samuel might have a point there.
But what he ignores is (a) footballers aren’t necessarily the best people to judge such things, (b) they’ve likely been poisoned by the same Redknapp propaganda as a chunk of the public, and (c) half of them tweeted themselves into a corner by kissing Redknapp’s rump at the first opportunity.
Still, why would the players bother to tweet about the appointment of Mr Average:
“Poor old Harry Redknapp: in the end, he just wasn’t ordinary enough for the Football Association and England. Ordinary would have fitted the schedule. Mediocre could have slotted right in. The last thing the FA wanted was a manager whose season went to the wire, who was still in there sparring with Arsene Wenger and Roman Abramovich come May.”
Subtle. And as sure as night follows day, the fourth estate embraced the last bastion of desperation: he’s too good for it anyway. He might have been the popular choice, whines Steve Sammers in The Mirror, but he’s better off without it:
“Redknapp knows his football alright and is a great judge of a player, no question. But England? Too much inactivity… too many interminable gaps between matches. And fearful stick if all it all goes wrong. In the long run, Redknapp is better off at Tottenham. And maybe deep down, he knows that.”
Stammers wisely stops short of blowing a raspberry at David Bernstein. He didn’t want it anyway!
Fortunately such nonsense and bitterness is not universal. Mihir Bose has stuck his neck out to defend the FA, to a point, while Graham Taylor has higher expectations of Hodgson than most of his media counterparts.
I’ll leave the last word to Oliver Holt, who usually has an unwavering habit of getting on every nerve I possess. Credit where it’s due, his Mirror column on the reaction to Hodgson’s appointment says an awful lot about what’s been published in the newspapers in the last few days.
And while it’s nice that the rather blatant agenda hasn’t infected everyone, if I read the words “People’s Choice” again anytime soon I’m liable to self-combust.