Hodgson hopes to surprise

England manager Roy Hodgson

In the year that England enjoyed their greatest soccer success by winning the World Cup in 1966, one young Englishman was facing an altogether uncertain future after being released by his club without making the grade as a professional.

That man was current England manager Roy Hodgson, who now faces the difficult task of getting it just right if his team are to win the World Cup for the first time since Crystal Palace cast him adrift almost half-a-century ago.

He must decide whether to allow England's young players to cut loose and express their attacking talents or to adopt a more measured and conservative approach.

"One needs to be very wary of saying: 'This is going to be our style'," he said. "Football is, and always will be, about winning matches. You can't ever sacrifice the chance to win a game because of a certain style that you've decided to adopt."

What is certain is that Hodgson is in a relatively enviable position as he becomes the first English coach to lead England at a World Cup since Glenn Hoddle in France 16 years ago.

He has a far bigger pool of bright young players to choose from now than seemed likely three or four years ago.

At 66, he will be the second oldest coach at the World Cup behind Uruguay's Oscar Tabarez, 67, and has 38 years coaching experience with 16 teams, club sides and international ones, in eight countries, including Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and England.

Now approaching what could turn out to be the crowning moment of an illustrious career, he, typically, is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

"Taking Switzerland to the World Cup was a wonderful thing to do, but I am an Englishman and it does not get better than taking England into the Finals," Hodgson said.

"We might not be the favourites to win it, but when did that ever matter. I hope we give a lot of people a very pleasant surprise." 
- Reuters.

‘It gives you that headache all coaches say they want. You don’t just have 11 players. You have players who are forcing their way into the team and will divide opinion.

— England manager Roy Hodgson

World Cup