The two inevitabilities which arise during an English campaign at a major tournament are that they will exit on penalties, and that we will be asking the question ‘where next?’ even before the final ball is scuffed by an English foot.
The air of resignation with which England approached this tournament was viewed as refreshingly realistic by most England fans, and Hodgsonism was fully embraced by a nation of noble warriors battling against the footballing odds, and in the shape of Andrea Prilo and Gigi Buffon, the footballing Gods. A few fans thought that England had more to give than the Hodgson tactics permitted, and many foreign pundits were bemused by the new look Steven Gerrard with his disciplined and more restrained midfield role. Flair was substituted for hard work as England set out to not to lose, rather than looking to win, and the more technically gifted players such as Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Adam Johnson, and Europe’s top passer – Leon Britton were left at home (or rather allowed to escape on holiday).
But on the whole, no one seemed too bothered about this, and after all it wasn’t too different to the type of football entertainment we were treated to under Fabio Capello. As England petered out of the competition, even Roy Hodgson himself seemed quite happy that we weren’t necessarily beaten by Italy during normal time. Unbeaten Roy Hodgson.
Whilst the Hodgsonism of Euro 2012 was generally accepted as a troubled England making do with what they have, there’s no doubt that it won’t be accepted for the next two years as the country’s top footballers attempt to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil 2014. The style of play used in Poland and the Ukraine should be seen as England’s plan B, plan C, or even discarded altogether as we look to the future.
An up and coming group of players headed by Jack Wilshere, and including the likes of Josh McEachran, Tom Cleverley, Jack Rodwell, Steven Caulker, Jordan Henderson, and Wilfred Zaha to name just a few, are altogether more technically gifted and more positive thinking footballers. The question is, can Hodgsonism change to incorporate such emerging talents, or will they simply be wasted and made to play as if they were Gareth Barry, James Milner, or John Terry?