There was something telling in the FA’s statement yesterday following Roy Hodgson’s prepared resignation speech. With England reeling from their shock loss to Iceland in the Euro 2016 Round of 16, the FA had only this to say.
”We back Roy Hodgson’s decision to step down as England manager and will discuss next steps imminently.”
That the FA couldn’t be bothered to include the usual “we thank him for his service” boilerplate that usually accompanies managers throwing themselves on their swords says a lot about their relationship with Hodgson.
Yet for whatever reason Hodgson and FA chief executive Martin Glenn held a joint press conference today to further unpack the loss to Iceland. For his part, Hodge seemed absolutely thrilled to hold one last press conference.
”I don’t really know what I’m doing here, I’m no longer the England manager but I was told to come. I suppose someone has to come and take the slings and arrows … my emotions are the obvious ones.”
That’s how Hodgson’s presser started. It didn’t get much better from there.
Here are some, uh, highlights from that awkward bit of theater:
- Hodgson: “I’m still recovering from that, it wasn’t a good night and I’m very fragile.”
- Glenn: “There isn’t one single thing we can fix but we must punch our weight in tournaments as we haven’t been able to for the last 50 years.”
- Hodgson: “I honestly believe the players were desperately trying to win the games but last night we didn’t have the right performance.”
- Glenn: “We’re very disappointed. Iceland were a doughty opponent but we didn’t punch our weight.” [“Doughty”? Yikes.]
- Glenn: “We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater but we’re not denying that when we get to the business end of a tournament England seem brittle.”
- Glenn, on the next England manager: “I’m not here to talk about names – I’ve been consistent, we’re looking for the best person not necessarily the best Englishman.”
- Hodgson: “It’s results that count, it’s results that you get judged on. [...] One particularly bad game has caused a lot of damage to me, the team and the team going forward.”
For the most part, Hodgson responded to reporter questions by referring to his prepared statement yesterday. He seemed testy throughout the presser and made it very clear that he didn’t want to be there. And, at the risk of editorializing, he spent a lot of time talking about the loss and England’s poor performance in terms of himself and his feelings.
Since the loss and Hodgson’s subsequent resignation, there were rumors swirling that senior players were openly questioning the manager’s tactics and pre-match preparations. Hodgson denied it, and during the press conference captain Wayne Rooney released a statement similarly denying any sort of dressing room revolt.
”In response to recent media reports, I’d like to say that is completely untrue. On behalf of the players, we completely supported the England manager but we understand his reasons for stepping down. We had absolute faith in the build-up and throughout the tournament.”
English media and fans are now gearing up to play everyone’s favorite game: trying to guess who will be the next England manager. The leading candidates include U21 coach Gareth Southgate, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, and, uh, Harry Redknapp. Other names linked to the gig (however tenuously) include Arsène Wenger, Alan Pardew, David Moyes, Gary Neville, and Jürgen Klinsmann.
The FA won’t have much time to find the right replacement. The qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup begin in just over two months, with England starting their journey by travelling to Slovakia on September 4th.