You've got to change, Roy… two years to rebuild England team for Brazil 2014 test
00:26 GMT, 26 June 2012
With his tie pulled down and his top button undone, Roy Hodgson had the look of a man who had endured a rough night.
But in his final press conference before returning home with an England side chastened by their European Championship defeat by Italy, Hodgson at least acknowledged that a period of radical change now had to follow.
He spoke of a ‘revolution’, of a younger, fresher, more attacking England come the friendlier meeting they will have with Andrea Pirlo and his colleagues in Switzerland in August.
Home coming: Wayne Rooney touches down at Luton airport after England's quarter-final Euro 2012 exit
Job to be done: Roy Hodgson must prepare his England side for the World Cup qualifiers
MATT LAWTON'S TEAM FOR 2014
(4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard, Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain' Danny Welbeck
Hodgson did not dwell too long on the specifics, and he was in no mood to declare an end to the international careers of his older players. He quite rightly acknowledged that some of the more senior members of his squad, in particular Steven Gerrard and John Terry, had been among England’s finest performers here in eastern Europe.
Terry’s obvious lack of pace does force England to defend deep and on the international stage that can create its own problems. But he deserves credit for the way he played at Euro 2012, not least against Italy.
Clearly, however, Hodgson has a vision that includes players such as Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling. Not to mention more attacking flair in the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, who would have taken England’s fifth penalty in Kiev had the quarter-final not already been settled by cooler, more clinical opponents.
On their way home: Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing head down the stairs at Luton airport
Disappointed: Martin Kelly and goalkeeper Joe Hart
‘With regards to the August 15 friendly, I think you will definitely see some revolution there because that game is the ideal opportunity for me to look at some players who weren’t with us here,’ said the England manager.
‘I need to see if they can add to the quality of our team. After that, of course, we go on to the September qualifiers and we have to mix the two together. But the question then is whether we can improve the quality within our team.’
After taking the next few weeks off, Hodgson will head to Brazil for what the Football Association like to call a fact-finding mission.
They will look at possible training bases for the 2014 World Cup, and look to finalise plans for two friendlies in Brazil in the first week of June next year, against the hosts and Uruguay. It will introduce England’s players to the South American environment a year ahead of the tournament.
Crashing out: But Hodgson believes England have reasons to be optimistic
There is also a possible clash with the USA in Florida en route to Brazil in 2014 in the pipeline, the FA acting like every federation with serious designs on one of the 32 World Cup places.
But such preparation is only part of the picture, and after what happened in Kiev on Sunday night the less important of the two main challenges the FA face before the next major tournament.
Hodgson has to qualify first, of course. But by the summer of 2014 he also has to deliver a team more capable of dealing with the strongest nations in the competition. That is Hodgson’s task moving on from Euro 2012; the task by which he will ultimately be measured as an England manager.
The contest with Italy exposed some all too familiar deficiencies in the England side. Not least an alarming inability to retain possession and pass the ball in a manner the Italians made look easy. We did not need the pages of statistics UEFA produced afterwards to tell us that, even if the fact that Joe Hart completed more passes than any team-mate told its own story.
Facing the media: Hodgson and a visibly upset Gerrard speak to the press on Monday afternoon
In the spotlight: Hodgson and Co have flown back from the Euros after crashing out at the last-eight stage
It was there for everyone to see, and a deeply disappointed Gerrard — so impressive as a captain at this tournament — was the first to recognise it remains a ‘fundamental’ problem.
‘I’m sure it’s one of the biggest points of this tournament that the management and the coaching staff will have to look into,’ he said. ‘They will have to analyse why we aren’t keeping the ball better, especially at this level because it’s fundamental; it’s key if you want to beat the big teams in these tournaments.
‘I don’t look at stats too much, unless something’s sticking out so obviously. In this tournament we have come up short as far as possession is concerned.’
Hodgson should take some positives from this tournament. Surviving until the 28th of 31 games, as one FA official highlighted, might be stretching it a bit. But they did top a group that included France and emerged unbeaten in 90 minutes. That said, New Zealand managed to do that in the last World Cup.
Ear we go home: Young departed England's Krakow base on Monday afternoon
But for all the success Hodgson has had in the short time he has been in charge — in organising the team as well as he did and creating unity among the players — the lack of possession was alarming.
Over the four games they averaged just 39 per cent; England’s worst figures in a tournament since 1980 and better only than Greece and Ireland this month.
While Hodgson was more reluctant to acknowledge the statistics, he too expressed some frustration. ‘Last night we gave the ball away far too often in areas where we didn’t expect to,’ he said.
The FA have not returned to the dark ages. Work is being done to challenge the culture of English football. The National Football Centre is about the open. There are new reforms for kids’ football.
End of the road: The tournament is over for Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Co
But Hodgson is operating in the shorter term, over the four years of his contract, and one challenge he faces is getting the best out of Wayne Rooney after yet another disappointing tournament for England’s most gifted footballer.
Clearly, missing the first two group games did him no favours and Rooney has to take the blame for his red card in Montenegro.
But he did look unfit as well as off form and you have to wonder if, privately, Hodgson might now think it was a mistake to let Rooney go to Las Vegas on holiday and report late for international duty along with Chelsea’s Champions League players. Just as it might have made sense to leave him in Krakow when England were travelling to Ukraine for the matches against France and Sweden. His time may have been better served working hard with a fitness coach back at base.
Off target: Ashley Cole missed a penalty in England's shootout defeat to Italy
Hodgson dismissed such talk, but there remained implied criticism of his star player’s performances.
‘We’ve monitored his fitness levels and in training he has looked very fit,’ he said. ‘I think we put a lot of expectation on him and maybe asked too much of him. He tried very hard, but didn’t have his best game. I think he’d admit that.’
Like the rest of England’s players, something as basic as passing proved difficult for Rooney in Kiev.
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