New England manager Roy Hodgson has called for supporters to back the national side.
Hodgson was, as expected, confirmed today as Fabio Capello’s successor on a four-year contract but there has already been much speculation as to why bookies’ favourite Harry Redknapp was not approached.
The Tottenham boss was widely perceived to be the popular choice for the position, but the Football Association have confirmed Hodgson was their first and only choice.
“It is a very proud day for me, I’m a very happy man to be offered the chance to manage my country,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the task ahead. Everyone knows it is not an easy one but I’m hoping that everyone, fans and supporters will get behind the team.
“It’s the team that counts, they go out and win football matches.
“What I’ll do is try to make sure the team is well prepared for the challenge ahead.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
Hodgson confirmed he is set to wait until after the end of the Barclays Premier League season on May 13 before naming his squad for the European Championships.
He said: “It’s going to be very important after this press conference to get straight down to the task, making certain that when the time comes to name the squad, which we are likely to put back as a matter of fact until after the last game of the season, that I’ve done as much research as I can and spoken to as many players as I can.”
Hodgson also acknowledged he did not have much time to settle into the job before Euro 2012 but said: ``It's going to be difficult of course but hopefully I've got time. Obviously I've been working here for the last five years so the players are pretty well known to me even though I haven't worked with them all.
“I’ve done as much research and spoken to as many people as I can.”
Hodgson preferred not to answer questions about picking John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in his squad, or the possibility of selecting Steven Gerrard as captain, but was forthcoming about the prospect of Wayne Rooney going to Ukraine and Poland.
Rooney is suspended for England’s opening two games, but Hodgson appeared to put to bed any debate about whether the Manchester United striker would be part of the final squad or not.
“I’m looking forward to Wayne Rooney coming to the Euros with us and making a contribution even though he cannot play the first two games,” he said.
Asked about England’s prospects at the Euros, Hodgson added: “England always have to go in tournaments to win them because we are a major football nation. I certainly think the players would be very disappointed if we expected anything less of them than to win the tournament.”
Hodgson also confronted his troubled spell at Liverpool head on.
He was in charge at Anfield for just half a season before the fans got their wish to see Kenny Dalglish restored to the hot-seat.
Some commentators have expressed concern over Hodgson’s ability to deal with the level of scrutiny he endured on Merseyside, which is only likely to increase as soon as he takes the reins of the national side.
“I’m prepared. The fact is I took it (pressure and criticism) at Liverpool and I’ll take it here,” he said.
“But the Liverpool chapter is in the past and I’m concentrating on the future. There are lots of other chapters in my past I could concentrate on if I wanted to that would put a smile on my face.
“(Former club) Inter, I would submit, wasn’t exactly too easy when it comes to scrutiny and size of club.
“The England manager’s job is the pinnacle of success for every English manager and it certainly brings with it a lot of scrutiny and criticism and I have to be prepared for that.”
Redknapp has spoken magnanimously over the last couple of days about being overlooked for a job he has coveted for some time and Hodgson today returned the favour.
“I have great respect for Harry,” he said. “He sent me a voicemail, which I will of course reply to.
“He’s been very gracious in everything he’s done. I hope we remain friends, we have unwittingly become rivals.”
FA chairman David Bernstein was less forthcoming about the Spurs boss.
“I’m not prepared to talk about other people or other candidates or other managers,” he said when asked about Redknapp.
“We are here to present the new manager, Roy Hodgson. It’s a closed book as far as I’m concerned.
“I’m not commenting or discounting him (Redknapp) or anyone else. It was not a two-man race. Other candidates were looked at very seriously, whose names I won’t give out.”