One of the biggest clichés being trotted out ahead of this World Cup is that a European team has never won a World Cup in South America. In the second part of this exclusive interview with FIFA.com, England manager Roy Hodgson explains why he thinks the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be much more of a level playing field.
Hodgson also gives the Official Website of the FIFA World Cup an insight into his current thoughts in terms of his squad selection, with his mind seemingly already made up on which 23 players will travel to Brazil, saying: “Over the last couple of weeks I’m pretty much sure of what I want to do when it comes to the team.
FIFA.com: There have been seven World Cups in the Americas which have all been won by South American teams. Do you think that is just a coincidence or are there other factors?
Roy Hodgson: No, but let’s be fair, home advantage is a great advantage– look at France in 1998. Germany in 2006 achieved far more than people anticipated. They went into the tournament at a low ebb in terms of everyone’s expectations – and came out doing very well.
In 2002, the Japanese and the South Koreans went a lot further than most people would have given them credit for before the tournament and in ’58 Sweden reached the Final – and I don’t have to tell you about England in 1966. So, I don’t think it’s unusual for that home advantage to actually kick in and play a part. That might be the simple answer to why the South Americans have done well in South America. Maybe it’s climactic to some extent, but I think those advantages and disadvantages will even out more and more.
I think European teams are getting stronger and more adept at playing in different conditions. South American teams are exporting all their players to Europe, so there’s a certain European-ness about even the South American teams these days. The Brazil team will probably have very few players in it that are actually playing in Brazil. The Uruguayans and the Argentinians probably don’t have many that are playing there.
To some extent, it’s not like in the past where the Brazilians are unknown outside of Brazil until the World Cup came around. Garrincha and Pele were playing in their club teams and were very famous in Brazil but they only became really, really famous every four years when they stepped onto the field at the World Cup. We don’t have that any more.
Everyone could probably go around to a football lover in England and ask: ‘Could you name the Brazilian team? Or, ‘could you give me a good idea of what the Brazilian team is?’ And they would be able to do so in this country because about half of them will have played in England or play in England and the others they’ll have seen in the Champions League playing against English teams.
I’m not going to make decisions in the last week or two of the season, which is a notoriously bad time to judge talent.
When you’re watching England players in action for their club sides at the moment; how are you feeling? Are you nervous?
No, not at all. I’ve had a very clear idea of what I want to do with this squad for a long, long time. Certainly over the last couple of weeks I’m pretty much sure of what I want to do when it comes to the team.
Obviously when you say, ‘nervous,’ I’m rather hoping we don’t get any more examples like we had with Jay Rodriguez. He damaged his cruciate ligament in a game where I was actually watching from the stands. You hope that’s not going to happen again. But there’s no point being nervous or worried about that because it’s totally outside of your control. I can hope, like the rest of the world that it doesn’t happen. And I can hope for the player’s sake that it doesn’t happen but there’s nothing I can do about it.
All I can do is be really clear in my mind with what I want to do as a squad and which players I want to take. Nothing that happens in the last four games, in terms of form, is going to affect me. I don’t judge players on their last-minute form over two or three games. I’m judging them over two years. Or, in particular, if anyone new on the scene has emerged I’m judging him over several months. I’m not going to make decisions in the last week or two of the season, which is a notoriously bad time to judge talent.
As a manager I was never keen on making strong judgements on players, either to buy them or to sell them or to retain them in the last two or three weeks of the season. I wanted to make my decision around the November-to-early-March time because that’s where things are really done. So, we’ll watch games, but we’re not watching thinking, “Shall we or shan’t we?” And if I go to a game and someone I’m interested in has a good game, I’m pleased for him and pleased for his team and I’m feeling happy and justified that I’ve chosen the right guy. If he’s not played well, then I’m thinking: ‘Well, that’s not going to affect my decision to take him or not and I hope he gets out of the spell he is because he is the right player.’ You don’t become a good player over two games or a bad player over two games.