Tag Archive: Roy Hodgson


It is clear that England have a shortage of top class strikers at the moment. With Wayne Rooney constantly struggling to re-produce his club form for the national team, and the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck lacking experience on the international stage; there is an opening for forwards to stake a claim to be a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s future squads.

The Likes of Grant Holt, anyone who follows Premier League news  will have seen that he bagged 15 League goals in his debut Premier League season last year for Norwich City, and Danny Graham at Swansea City have consistently been overlooked for a place in the Three Lions squad despite performing superbly for their Club sides.

But another man who has not as yet been given a look in is Gary Hooper at Celtic. The Harlow born front man has been nothing short of a goal machine for the Bhoys after making a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United back in 2010.

Since then, Hooper has netted over half a century goals for the Hoops and his manager, Neil Lennon, has urged England to give him a chance.  His blistering form has led to both Scotland and Wales making enquires over whether the 24 year old could be eligible to play for them, but such a turnover of goals should have caught the attention of Roy Hodgson.

Many sceptics will point to the fact that Hooper has been plying his trade at a relatively poor standard in the SPL,  but the ball still needs putting in the back of the net; no matter what level you play – and Hooper does that better than most.

What’s more, he has dealt with the pressure of playing for one of Britain’s biggest club’s in the shape of Celtic and thrived on the atmosphere. The prospect of playing for his country in front of big crowds is something that is unlikely to faze him and natural born goal scorers will always have that ability to create something out of nothing.

If you like a football bet , you will see that Hooper is the favourite to be the leading scorer in the SPL this campaign.

It would be great to see players rewarded for their league form, no matter who they play for, with international friendlies offering the perfect chance to try out new faces. In the shape of Hooper, England may have a predatory forward on their hands; but they will never know unless they give him a chance to prove his worth.

By Andrew Ward

Michael Carrick’s noble statement that he would definitely “consider” an England call up, this season, yet again exposes the problems footballers have with being a reserve.

The Manchester United star withdrew his name from selection in January, after a dissatisfying 2010 World Cup campaign.

Being withdrawn, he was not selected for Roy Hodgson’s side for this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament, and he recently admitted to Betfair.com that he would have rejected a call-up, even if it were formally made.

Carrick outlined the situation at the World Cup as the reasons for his decision to focus on club football. Having made the squad, he trained and camped with his teammates but did not get a minute of play in South Africa, a predicament he foresaw should he join the Euro 2012 set-up.

But, when Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry pulled out of the campaign injured, the perfect replacement in the centre of the park was back at home. Instead of Carrick partnering Steven Gerrard in midfield, responsibility was handed to the inexperienced Jordan Henderson, who was largely ineffectual in Ukraine.

Carrick’s presence may well have bolstered England’s midfield during their quarter-final defeat to Italy, where Andrea Pirlo ran the show in the centre of the pitch. In deciding not to represent his country – even simply as a substitute – Carrick has surely rejected any chance of getting back into the side.

For why should a man dissatisfied with life on the subs bench be awarded a starting role?

Jamie Carragher, Liverpool’s rock in defence for the past decade, retired from international football as he was not getting a game. His appearance in South Africa, therefore, was disheartening to say the least, as he had not earned the right from playing England qualifiers.

The noble Carrick, if he wants to be part of England again at a major tournament, must prove himself willing to work with the squad during their next qualification campaign.

Visit the Betfair Premiership website for the best odds, picks, and tips for the upcoming campaign, as well as the 2012/13 Champions League.

By Tony Alvarez
Yesterday new England manager Roy Hodgson announced his first England squad, which is an important one as its also the squad that will represent England in this Summers European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine.
Shortly after his squad was announced at 1pm yesterday his decisions were met with much criticism from the general public as well as some of his decisions being questioned by Football pundits.

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By Tony Alvarez

By midnight tonight the Premier League season will be over, we will know where everyone has finished and more importantly who has grabbed the final important places that are still up for grabs.
It has been the first time in many a year that the final day of the season has seen so much still to play for.

The title is still there to be won with the Manchester clubs, City and United fighting to be crowned Champions.
3rd and 4th are still yet to be decided, really they shouldn’t be important placing but with the money the Champions League brings in they are extremely important, third is also more important that it has ever been before as the side who finish 4th will miss out on Champions League Football should Chelsea triumph over Munich in Munich on May 19th.

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

There was no doubt what the biggest story was in English football this week, as Roy Hodgson usurped heavy favourite Harry Redknapp and become the new England manager.

The West Brom boss has agreed a four-year deal which sees him take charge for the next three major tournaments through to the European Championships in France in 2016.

64 year-old Hodgson was the unanimous choice of the 4-man FA panel that consisted of Chairman David Bernstein, Director of football development Trevor Brooking, General Secretary Alex Horne and Club England managing Director Adrian Bevington.

While many will preside in persisting that Hodgson is the wrong choice and may not inspire enthusiasm amongst the public, the main fact now is that we have to get behing him and give the man a chance to succeed in a job where many before him which had that public support failed.

His appointment has been hailed as a long-term one by the FA to help the development of their National Football Centre, which is due to open in Burton later this year.

But for the forseeable future Hodgson’s sole focus will be on Euro 2012, and one of the biggest decisions that Hodgson faces ahead of the tournament is the dilemma of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

West Brom travel to Old Trafford this afternoon in search of a record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League victory as they aim for their first ever top-half finish in the league’s existence.

Wins over Wolves, Sunderland and Chelsea have propelled the Baggies from potentially being dragged into a relegation battle to firmly securing their top-flight status and look forward to a third consecutive season amongst England’s elite – another first in their Premier League history.

Ironically, Chelsea’s decision to sack manager Andre Villas-Boas saw them replace their Portuguese boss with a man that was at the centre of a major turning point in West Brom’s Premier League future.

Last year, Roberto Di Matteo was at the helm and winning many plaudits after guiding the Midlands club to the Premier League in his first season in charge with a positive attacking style earning them famous wins away at the likes of Arsenal and Everton.

But when the side went on a run of four points from a possible 27, Chairman Jeremy Peace had a big decision to make; stick with the man that had guided the club back to the top-flight, or find someone with greater experience in the hope of coming in and securing long-awaited stability in the biggest league in the world.      Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

The first half of the 2011/12 Premier League season has once again served up the same sort of drama and excitement we come to expect from the biggest league in the world.

This season is shaping up to be more tense than ever though; gone are the days where it was the usual suspects in the title race as the top of the tree has as many as six teams pushing for the summit.

It’s just as exciting at the bottom, with all the sides in the bottom half of the table casting worried glances at the perils of relegation.

Manchester City find themselves top of the table having been in first place at Christmas for the first time since 1929, and with their Champions League campaign over, Roberto Mancini‘s star-studded squad will have their eyes firmly fixed on a first-ever Premier League title. Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

12 months ago, Liverpool were a club in turmoil after undergoing severe problems both on and off the pitch.

A bitter takeover embroiled Anfield, with John W. Henry taking over from the despised fellow Americans of George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

Meanwhile, Liverpool were at the wrong end of the table as new manager Roy Hodgson was unable to turn their fortunes after they began to fade under previous boss Rafa Benitez.

But a new year brought new hope; with Henry’s takeover rubber stamped, he brought back the Kop’s prodigal son to try and revive the glory days on Merseyside.

Having won eight league titles and three European Cups in 14 years as a player and manager, Kenny Dalglish was re-appointed almost 20 years after he resigned.

After being given a contract until the end of the season, it soon became apparent that the Scot was the right appointment in the long-term.

Having been firmly consigned to the bottom half of the table, Dalglish guided the team on run that saw them move to the brink of an unlikely European spot.

The Reds went on 14-game run that saw them win ten and draw two matches to propel them within touchings distance of the Europa League.

Despite eventually missing out on Europe, a 6th placed finish was secured and the 60 year-old was rewarded with a three-year deal.

Now Dalglish has had almost a year to mould the squad in his image and the way he wants them to play, and there has been a marked improvement.

Gone is the one-dimensional style adopted under Hodgson of being well-organised but limited in an attacking approach.

Now Liverpool are dominating games with their constant pressing and high tempo that allows them to get on top of their opponents, as well as having the best defensive record in the top flight.

There was no need to make any changes in goal, with Pepe Reina one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League.

Defensively there has been some re-adjusting; Jose Enrique has been brought in at left-back, while Martin Kelly has emerged from the academy to contest with Glen Johnson on the right.

At the heart of defence, both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have become first-choice centre-backs, whilst the experienced Jamie Carragher and new addition Sebastian Coates provide reliable cover.

The midfield has seen the biggest overhaul; out have gone the likes of Christian Poulsen and Joe Cole, and in have come the likes of Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson.

Possibly the best example of the improvement under Dalglish has been holding midfielder Lucas.

For two years the Brazilian was unable to win over the Kop faithful, looking unable to cope with the pace and physicality of England’s top flight.

However, in the last 12 months he has made a host of excellent performances to make him the heartbeat of the Liverpool side before being ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

It is a problem that Dalglish will look to address in January, especially with their other midfield talisman in Steven Gerrard struggling with injury problems throughout 2011.

There has been investment within the flanks, with Stewart Downing and Craig Bellamy brought in to add width on the flanks, although Downing has found it difficult to maintain a regular place with the form of Maxi Rodriguez and the tireless Dirk Kuyt.

Up front has seen a big turnaround. Out went star man Fernando Torres and the less than prolific David N’Gog, and in came Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for a combined total of £57 million.

This has seen differing returns though, as while Suarez has been a revelation in the no. 7 shirt, Carroll has been unable to live up to his £35 million price tag and settle into Liverpool’s style of play.

It has been the one aspect of Dalglish’s first year back in charge that has raised eyebrows – the money spent on the new additions.

The likes of Carroll, Henderson and Downing were brought into the club for over-inflated sums of money, and all have so far had mixed success.

But as with any major overhaul, time has to be given to the big-money arrivals before they are deemed a success or failure, especially when Henderson and Carroll are in their early twenties.

While the squad is in a far healthier state than it was before, the primary aim has to be getting back their place in the top four before ending their long wait for a 19th title.

If there’s one thing we can take from Dalglish’s second coming, it is that Liverpool are a lot closer to the glory days than they were a year ago.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

It says everything about the past 12 months in the career of Joe Cole that his loan move to Lille on transfer deadline day was not one of the biggest headlines.

Last summer the England midfielder was the prized Bosman transfer of the summer, with Arsenal and Tottenham battling for his services before Liverpool swooped to give Cole a three-year deal.

Many were hailing the East Londoner to spearhead a revival under new manager Roy Hodgson and bring better times back to Anfield.

But his league debut saw him given a straight red card against the Gunners, and unfortunately for Cole it only got worse from there.

Niggling injuries throughout the campaign didn’t help, but when he did get on the pitch he looked a shadow of the player that helped Chelsea to three Premier League titles.

Since the turn of the year and Hodgson’s departure from Merseyside, Cole started just three games – and two of those were in the Europa League.

So while better times have arrived at Anfield under Kenny Dalglish, it was not inspired by Cole, who knew he needed a fresh start to breathe new life into a faltering career.

Thankfully he may have found a place to do that in the unlikely setting of France with Lille.

At the age of 29, Cole could have taken the simple option of joining another Premier League club and go through the motions of a comfortable lifestyle he has grown used to.

Instead, by joining the French champions he is testing himself not only as a player but as a person who still has the desire to have more success within the game.

Having come through the ranks at West Ham, there has always been a perception that he has never wanted to stray too far from his London roots.

But by going to a new country with his young family and aiming to settle into a culture unfamiliar to him deserves great respect.

More importantly for a player with such gifted ability, he also has a platform to rediscover the talent that made him so important for both club and country.

Not only is he playing for a strong side in an underrated league, but he also has the added bonus of playing regularly in this year’s Champions League.

Last weekend saw Cole make his debut by coming on during his new team’s 3-1 win over St Etienne as he works his way up to full fitness after such insignificant playing time in 2011.

He still found the time to set up Ludovic Obraniak‘s goal that clinched the three points, and with confidence and match sharpness growing every week he can become the playmaker of this side if he rediscovers his best form.

Cole has already pointed out the difference in his new surroundings, saying, “There are a lot of things changing and it’s a big challenge. But every day I go into work, it becomes a little bit familiar and i think to myself ‘yeah, I’m in the right place here.'”

Hopefully by the end of the season, Cole will have proven to his doubters just how right his move to France proved to be.

So what do you think? Will Cole rediscover his best form in France? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

Alex McLeish took an unorthodox approach to resigning as Birmingham manager

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Despite the season finishing a couple of weeks ago and no major international tournament to fill the void on the pitch, there has still been plenty of drama taking place off of it.

The managerial merry go-round has rarely been as busy as the past fortnight. Three current Premier League clubs have changed or are in the process of changing their manager, while two relegated sides have had to deal with issues within their hotseat.

Fulham lost their second choice manager and replaced him with their first choice.

Mark Hughes walked out of Craven Cottage citing the reason as being too ambitious as the reason for his departure.

Former Tottenham boss Martin Jol was appointed just 12 months after Mohammed Al Fayed missed out on getting him to take charge following Roy Hodgson’s exit to Liverpool.

After dropping out of the Premier League following finishing bottom of the table, West Ham got rid of the uninspiring Avram Grant and appointed Sam Allardyce to help them try and get back in the big time.

Meanwhile, Alex McLeish took the more modern approach to inform his bosses that he didn’t fancy doing another stint in the Championship when he resigned from his job at Birmingham City – via e-mail.

This has naturally enraged the Blues board, with acting chairman Peter Pannu refusing to accept the Scot’s resignation, and what makes it even worse is that he is now the favourite to take the vacant position at bitter rivals Aston Villa.

In fact, Villa have created enough managerial discussion to last all summer. Owner Randy Lerner sensibly decided that having Gerard Houllier return following another heart condition wasn’t a risk worth taking, for the Frenchman if not the club.

Since then there have been a host of names being linked with the job at Villa Park, which has either failed due to loyalty to another club (Roberto Martinez) or loyalty to the fans (the veto on interviewing the now-Nottingham Forest manager Steve McLaren.)

We haven’t even got onto Chelsea yet, and after the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti owner Roman Abramovich is seemingly playing the waiting game for Guus Hiddink to leave Turkey/get sacked by Turkey for a failing Euro 2012 campaign. Whatever comes first.

Through all of these sagas, we have our fair share of victims and egotists. Hughes has taken the plunge of leaving a secure job and seemingly failed, while the way McLeish has quit St Andrews is nothing short of insensitive.

However, if you undertake the consideration of putting sympathy in the company of the owners, then bear in mind the findings of a recent survey on Premier League managers.

It discovered that the average life of a top-flight boss is just two years, with many chairman and club boards quick to draw the gun on someone they don’t think is up to the task.

Fulham chairman Al Fayed was reportedly on the brink of sacking Hughes halfway through the season before an impressive away win at Stoke gave the Welshman enough time to build for a top-eight finish.

The problem is that managers and owners are as bad as one another.

The loyalty shown by Martinez to remain with Wigan with the Villa job at his feet was a rare sign of a quality that has disappeared in the modern game.

Managers feel they have to get the best out of what is becoming a short shelf life, while owners have to put financial security provided by Premier League football ahead of allowing a boss to get through a bad period – just ask Roberto Di Matteo.

Unfortunately, they will be quick to point the blame at one another when things go wrong before noting their own faults.

It’s a game of cat and mouse that can undermine the development of a club, and once again the fans that have to deal with the mess that’s created.

Their loyalty is something that can never disappear.

So what do you think? Are managers just as bad as owners when it comes to letting supporters down? Or do bosses have to develop a selfish side to maintain a long career? Let us know your thoughts.

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