Hodgson shattering myth that managing England impossible job
As I wrote a week before the tournament started: “There is little doubt in my mind that the new England boss is going to restore pride in the top job. And that is just as important (as success) this time around.”
Not only has Roy Hodgson shattered the myth that managing England in the modern era is an impossible job, he has turned around a team with no direction and no hope into a confident squad with no fear and a fresh belief that nothing is impossible.
To claim a quarter-finals showdown with Italy at Euro 2012, Roy’s boys have confounded the critics. Only all-conquering Germany won more points in the Group stages. And, in skipper Steven Gerrard, England have been inspired by one of the stand-out players of the tournament.
Giving Gerrard the captain’s armband and playing him in a role best suited to his world class qualities has been the master selection that has laid the foundations for Hodgson’s renaissance. With the courage to give youth a chance in the shape of Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the coach has added an exciting blend of exuberance.
His tactical astuteness and ability to get his players to perform has made this England side unrecognisable from the bunch of strangers who looked out of their depth under Fabio Capello at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With talisman Wayne Rooney restored to the side with his first tournament goal in eight years, there is an unmistakable sense of optimism in the England camp.
The reality is that England are still rank outsiders, with Germany lying in wait in the semi-finals if they do succeed in beating Italy on Sunday. Joachim Loew’s team have been the outstanding team of Euro 2012 and on what we have seen so far look destined to win their first major tournament in 16 years.
Ronaldo best in world
Then of course, in the other half of the draw the favourites are the reigning World and European champions Spain. While my tip for the final is Portugal, a highly under-rated side led by player of the tournament Cristiano Ronaldo, who looks hellbent on reclaiming the crown of world’s No.1 player from Lionel Messi.
For England to go all the way is still hard to imagine because let’s be honest Germany, Portugal and Spain all look like teams on a higher level. But one of the big attractions of the beautiful game is that anything is possible – as the Greeks proved in their Olympic year as recently as 2004.