In a turn of events which caught everyone off guard, the English Football Association have come up with a novel idea.
England’s national team manager Roy Hodgson will take over as the Three Lions U-21 coach on an interim basis for the upcoming friendly with Scotland on August 13.
Since Stuart Pearce’s contract wasn’t renewed following England’s embarrassing early exit at the European Championships in Israel earlier this summer, the English FA have decided to hand things over to Hodgson, for now.
But will this be permanent?
Hodgson and his trusty assistant Ray Lewington will take charge of England’s brightest young talent, as they face their neighbors from the north at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.
And it seems as though England’s manager has offered to take on the role temporarily
“There is an opportunity while the recruitment process goes on for me to work with this squad for this fixture, and it is something I very much wanted to do,” Hodgson said. “Following the tournament in the summer, a number of players are now too old for the age group so we will look at a new batch and I’m keen to work closely on the training field with them for the few days before the game.”
And Hodgson is keen to stamp his authority on the youngsters coming through.
“I watch the Under-21 fixtures and I was in Israel for the tournament but, as a coach, nothing can beat the training field and the team hotel for getting to know players properly. In a World Cup year it makes absolute sense while there is the chance to do it.”
Hang on… wait a minute, where is Gary Neville in all this?
Well, that ‘jack of all trades’ will be leading the English national team as they prepare to take on Scotland at Wembley. Hodgson will still be manager on August 14, the night after he manages the U-21s. But Neville will prepare the team for the friendly and be in charge leading up to the game.
Is Neville being groomed to take over as England’s next national team manager? If Hodgson doesn’t qualify for the World Cup, don’t rule it out.
But regardless of Neville or Hodgson, this could be quite a good idea by the FA.
Hodgson will get to know the young players much better and that will help with integration into the full national team. And in the new state-of-the-art St. George’s Park facility, it is easier to flit between the two teams on the multiple training pitches they will share.
In the statement the FA did say they would be appointing a new coach to take the U-21s permanently by September. But if Hodgson does a good job, why can’t he split the role between himself, Lewington and Neville?
It wouldn’t be too much to ask and would help with continuity and ideas being shared across the different age groups. But that idea may prove just too radical for the chaps at the English FA. They’ve already had one good idea today, after all.