Hodgson on collision course with media
REPORTING FROM THE UK
Is this the beginning of the end for Roy Hodgson?
England managers can be felled by poor performances and bad results, but they're just as likely to go when they've lost the support of the press.
Hodgson's ill-advised, sweary outburst on Wednesday might be the first sign that the uneasy truce between manager and media is disintegrating.
Hodgson lost his cool after the 1-0 victory over Norway when he was asked about England's struggle to put shots on targets. "That's absolutely ****ing b***ocks," he fumed.
In a way, it was encouraging to see some fire from Hodgson, who has been altogether too reasonable and understated in the role.
But it's unlikely that the press corps will feel the same way, especially given Hodgson's further protestations.
"You have seen an England team dominate for 45 minutes against good opponents," he said.
Well, there are a number of problems with this assertion.
Firstly, there was only a brief period when England could have been said to have dominated the game and it came between the 70th and 80th minute, when Wayne Rooney had been replaced and the formation had been altered to allow Raheem Sterling to play through the middle.
Equally, there was a period when Norway could have scored twice and England were saved by two excellent Joe Hart stops.
Secondly, with the best will in the world, Norway are not good opponents.
While they were once one of the hardest teams to beat in Europe, they've fallen on hard times now.
Last month, they were held to a 0-0 draw by the United Arab Emirates and, last November, they were beaten at home by Scotland.
The press corps, a disjointed mass of loud individual voices rather than a singular, unified lump, are not stupid.
They know what a good performance is and they know what strong opponents look like.
It would have been better for Hodgson to admit that the performance was sluggish and unconvincing and to accept that something needed to change if a positive result against Switzerland next Tuesday morning (Singapore time) was to be forthcoming.
By opening with an honest appraisal, Hodgson could then have identified the positives in the performance, like Sterling's display and the link-up between him, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, or the composure of John Stones, or the improvement in Jack Wilshere.
There's no point trying to hide behind possession statistics.
England, as a team, were poor on Wednesday.
The fact that they had only two shots on target, one of which was a penalty, is as relevant as it is concerning.
Hodgson's problem is that he has form for this kind of myopic assessment.
He described England's 0-0 draw with an already-qualified Costa Rica as, "evidence of what a good team we can be".
If failing to trouble a small team with nothing to play for is considered "good", then it's an assessment that calls Hodgson's judgment into question.
More worrying signs could be taken from his assertion that England would have to play like Norway when they visit Switzerland.
The implication that Hodgson will play a very defensive, very cautious style of football will not go down well with anyone.
The England job is as much about public relations as it is football.
Terry Venables, manager between 1994 and 1996, was a master of that side of the game and his skill with the reporters, his ability to sell them a vision, covered up some very disappointing early results.
Fabio Capello, manager between 2008 and 2012, was cold with the press, but exuded an air of steely confidence and belief that protected him for the first two years.
Hodgson doesn't have either of those skills. His selling point is that he is perceived to be a decent man.
Swearing at journalists and refusing to accept obvious truths will erode that reputation in no time.
Hodgson should tread carefully.