England are out to 11.5 on betfair to win Euro 2012 after Roy Hodgson’s instalment as manager
Roy Hodgson survived his first press conference as England coach earlier today but he got a taste of the kind of attention he can expect, as journalists grilled him on his struggles at Liverpool, England's captaincy issue and, bizarrely, the period he played in South Africa during the apartheid era.
Hodgson came out of it well, even if the FA board members alongside him David Bernstein, Adrian Bevington and Sir Trevor Brooking looked nervous. Bernstein pointed out that Hodgson is the first England coach to have previous international experience and I believe that is one of the biggest factors, aside from his nationality, that convinced the FA he was the outstanding candidate.
Hodgson has coached Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland and in each country has faced tricky challenges. With Switzerland, whom he led at the 1994 World Cup their best result was a tough 1-1 draw with hosts USA and Euro 96 (another 1-1 draw, this time against hosts England), his squad was split with jealousies among the French, German and Italian speakers. "The Germans considered themselves the best, the French thought themselves culturally superior, and the Italians felt they knew football best," he remembered.
With the United Arab Emirates (2002-04), he was introducing organisation to the national team set-up for the first time, and for them, he said, "It was earth-shattering". His experiences in Sweden, Norway and Denmark prepared him for the Finland job, as he admired the Nordic players' acceptance of rigour and discipline.
How will this help England this summer at Euro 2012? Well, think back to England's miserable players in South Africa at the World Cup, cooped up and bored in their Rustenberg base. Hodgson has made the point that such an isolated base-camp may work for Italian players, who are used to staying away before big matches, but not with other players.
In an interview with Uefa magazine The Technician, Hodgson revealed some of his thoughts about how to be a successful international coach which provide a fascinating insight into how we can expect this England side to be run in the future.
His methodology includes making the England team as much like a club side as possible, understanding the players on a human level, giving players control over some decisions, projecting the right image, and, unsurprisingly for a coach who has over-achieved with underdog teams, the value of tactical organisation. "The goal is to be like a club side: to be as well-organised as possible without the benefit of working day in and day out," he said. "The more club-like you can make the team, the more security you can give the players, the better."
Unlike Fabio Capello, Hodgson will take a much more pastoral approach: "Normally, the football and coaching side is the least of your problems, but the care of the players on a human level may require a lot of attention," he said.
Considering Hodgson has suffered in the PR battle with fellow contender Harry Redknapp, he also insisted that the public image the coach and the team gives off is crucial. "The image you project is probably even more important when it comes to national teams because you are representing a nation's football."
Hodgson's work at Fulham, in particular, was based on a tactically rigorous defensive set-up which he said underpins all his teams: "Tactical preparation is crucial and I try to make sure that each player knows his role and is prepared for any challenges which he might face."
And finally, in his blueprint for international coaching, Hodgson said it was important that the players themselves had some power. "The players' opinion can be useful when discussing training times or deciding travel schedules," he added.
It is this philosophy that has taken Hodgson from a Swedish title-winner in 1977 with Halmstads to the top of the English game. It might not be enough to win England Euro 2012 - they are 11.5 to lift the trophy, drifting out from 10.5 - but it might get them out of Group D, for which they are 1.67 on betfair
The FA have handed him a four-year contract, so perhaps there is more chance of success at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At the moment England are 18.0, a price that seems certain to come in regardless of how the Three Lions do this summer.