Friday 24 November 2017

Roy Hodgson the wrong appointment for England say Germans as Harry Redknapp wins their vote

Who are you: senior figures in German football surrprised that FA have appointed Roy Hodgson as England manager. Photo: Reuters
Who are you: senior figures in German football surrprised that FA have appointed Roy Hodgson as England manager. Photo: Reuters

Jim White

SENIOR figures in German football have expressed surprise at the Football Association's choice of England manager, and suggested that the organisation's lengthy delay in making the appointment not only weakened the new man's hand, but ''would never have happened in Germany''.

Speaking at a media open day held ahead of Bayern Munich's appearance in the Champions League final, Bastien Schweinsteiger, Germany's influential midfielder, articulated a widespread belief in German footballing circles that the FA had not chosen the obvious candidate.

"The work that Harry Redknapp has done at Tottenham is perfect [for the job of England manager]," he said.

Perhaps more surprisingly, given the FA selection committee's insistence that the man unveiled at Wembley on Tuesday enjoyed an elevated reputation abroad, Schweinsteiger also admitted he had little knowledge of Roy Hodgson or his career.

"The other one, I just don't know," he said. "I can't tell you anything about what he's like with players, or how he trains them. I've heard more about Redknapp at Tottenham and I saw them play very good football in the Champions League."

Schweinsteiger's underwhelmed reaction is somewhat at odds with the image the FA has been keen to paint of its new man as a titan of the international coaching circuit.

When Hodgson was unveiled as the national team coach this week, David Bernstein, the FA chairman, made much of his wider renown.

Bernstein insisted, along with a wealth of experience, it was this that made him the most appropriate candidate for football's impossible job.

"He has outstanding contacts through his work with Uefa and Fifa," Bernstein said. "He can walk into any training ground around the world and command respect."

Were Hodgson to walk into Munich's extensive Sebauner Strasse complex, however, he might be asked to produce his security pass. For the Bayern players, it appears his curriculum vitae has, until now, been unexplored territory.

As with Schweinsteiger, the reaction of Philipp Lahm, the German national team captain, to the new man was very much a case of Roy who? He gave a succinct summary of his knowledge of Hodgson.

"I don't know him," he said. "No, I'm sorry."

He added that he hoped Hodgson could prove the man to take England back to where they belonged, "at the top of world football".

While players might not be expected to keep abreast of the career of managers working in foreign territories – it is unlikely a poll conducted among England internationals about Joachim Löw ahead of his appointment as Germany coach would have revealed many aware of his pedigree – Bayern's coach, Jupp Heynkes, seemed equally nonplussed by the FA choice.

"I don't know him that well," Heynkes said. "But I've followed the discussions and also heard the opinions of the national team players and they would have preferred the Tottenham manager.

"But as it is so often with national associations, they don't listen. I cannot say whether it's a good or a bad appointment because I don't know him that well.

"He was with Internazionale, and with the Switzerland side, so he has international experience. But to be the manager of the English national team is not that easy.

"What do I know? Maybe there were difficulties, or problems with Harry Redknapp."

Heynkes added that, whatever Hodgson's lack of wider renown in Germany or indeed initial support from within the England camp, the FA had not helped him by delaying his appointment until so close to the start of the tournament.

"At the moment it's not easy to take on the English national team," said Heynkes, who, at 66, is of a similar vintage to Hodgson. "The timing is very tight now.

"If you know the English league, that's a start. But you've got to have a relationship with the players and establish that. I think, for a tournament like this that is very important. Especially for the atmosphere within the team."

He added that a delay as sustained as that between the departure of Fabio Capello and the recruitment of Hodgson would never have been allowed to happen in Germany.

"No, I cannot imagine that at all," he said. "Absolutely not. Because we have a totally different mentality. I don't think it would be possible in Germany.

"They [the German FA] would have sorted it out way, way before. Whether it's with a club or a national team, when one manager finishes, the next day, the new manager is presented."

As for concern at the possibility of meeting England and their new manager in the latter stages of Euro 2012, Lahm insisted nothing had changed in the attitude of the German team to their old adversaries.

"Frightened of England with Hodgson?" he smiled. "No, we are not frightened of anybody."

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