New man, same old problems - England welcome Hodgson to the impossible job

The 64-year-old said all the right things at his Three Lions unveiling at Wembley but old ghosts will always be lurking as the former Liverpool boss looks to win over the public
By Wayne Veysey at Wembley

The letters on the name tag changes but the same old problems remain.

Roy Hodgson took his place in a five-man defence of his appointment, to the left of a decidedly smug-looking Football Association chairman, David Bernstein.

He said all the right things and was elusive enough in the right places to satisfy the blazered committee men alongside him.

England captain? Not decided yet. Can John Terry and Rio Ferdinand put their differences aside to play alongside one another? Will need to speak to them. Winning over players and fans? Same for every coach.

Getting the job over Harry Redknapp? He left me a voicemail message and I hope we remain friends.

It was safe, conservative and risk-free. Just like the man himself and the teams he has generally fashioned during a 36-year career to punch above their weight.

The only time Hodgson was caught on the hop was when a TV journalist from Channel 4 news quizzed him about playing football in apartheid-era South Africa.

"It's a bit unfair to talk about that after 40 years," protested Hodgson, before saying he had not given the political situation "much thought" at the time even though it was an "evil regime".

Welcome to the impossible job.

Whoever's name tag would have been on the desk (incidentally: why did Bernstein and not the new manager take centre stage in the middle chair?) there would have been some muck-raking of the past.

That is part of the problem for the nation who gave football to the world. However much they try to move on, the rewind button always seems jammed.

The old ghosts are around to haunt whoever is in place to jot 11 names on a team-sheet.

One mini-revelation from Hodgson is confirmation that he will name Rooney in his 23-man Euro 2012 squad despite his absence from the opening two matches through suspension.

The best lines came not from a football man, but an accountant.

Bernstein, who made the most of his trump card that Hodgson is the first of England's 13 permanent managers to have international experience, claimed that the four-man FA panel had settled on the West Brom manager as their No1 choice "around a month ago".

If this indeed was the case, and suspicion lies with the fact that FA board member Phil Gartside claimed three weeks ago that Harry Redknapp was an "outstanding manager" why did the panel keep it to themselves for so long?

Bernstein claims "the timing was absolutely right" because of the need "to avoid distracting West Brom".

No mention was made of Tottenham, whose season has almost been destroyed by the distraction of losing their manager to England.

Up until last weekend, senior Spurs figures were convinced that Redknapp would be patrolling the Wembley, rather than White Hart Lane dugout, next season.

The approach last weekend to West Brom came as much of a surprise to them as it did Redknapp and Hodgson.

Nevertheless, Fabio Capello's replacement deserves respect and time to make his methods work.

He is a sensible choice who ticks most boxes, enough indeed for the FA to hand him a four-year contract that runs until France 2016, when he will be 68.

Just as pertinently, Hodgson has to deal with the same old problems.

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