Roy Hodgson puts in a good performance on below par England v Ukraine

The team need a good performance from Roy Hodgson

It’s Roy Hodgson’s job to pick his England Football team up after their disappointing performance against Ukraine at Wembley. The size & importance of the task facing him should not be underestimated. So how did he do?

England below par v Ukraine & Roy Hodgson’s Robust Response

The general view of England’s performance is not good. In his excellent blog on BBC Sport, Phil McNulty describes the game as “a world cup reality check”. In a thoughtful piece in the Bleecher Report, featured columnist Richard Baines says  “England came crashing down to earth with a lucky 1-1 draw against Ukraine”. In the face of this confidence threatening criticism Roy Hodgson is robust and positive.

Deflecting Blame from the Players

He deflects criticism from his team by focusing attention on the performance of the referee. ESPN staff report how he stops short of blaming the referee for costing them the match but was highly critical. Charlie Wyett of the Sun describes how Hodgson ‘… marched to the referee’s room at the final whistle last night to complain about England’s disallowed goal ‘. In The Daily Mail Ian Ladyman reports Hodgson as ‘furious’ at the referee for not allowing Jermaine Defoe’s goal and for giving out too many yellow cards.

In this way he is creating a temporary, specific & external explanation for some of England’s misfortune. A perfect impress Formula response. He manages to capture a lot of headlines with this tactic and so reducing the heat on his players. He gives them a beleif that their ability was good enough but the extra hurdles presented by the referee were too high for them to completely overcome. This has some credibility so it will help to maintain the players belief in their quality as a team.

Hodgson Positive on the Performance

Dominic Fifield in the Guardian quotes Hodgson describing England’s performance against Ukraine at Wembley as stronger than that against Ukraine in Euro 2012;

People saw us at the European Championships in Ukraine, when we beat them [in Donetsk], but that was a better performance tonight than that which actually gave us a 1-0 victory over there,” said Hodgson. “You can’t allow the result to cloud your judgment of the performance. We asked more questions of them tonight than we did over there, and had we lost it would have been harsh justice. As it was for them to have lost that game in Ukraine.

Back to the ESPN staff report, he is quoted as being very positive about the performance;

We went a goal down to a wonder goal but I was really pleased with the way we kept tidy, kept trying and didn’t resort to any hopeful long balls … We kept playing through and creating chances and we were rewarded in the end by getting the equaliser and we might even have got a winner.

Oliver Platt from covers in Yahoo Hodgson’s description of the goal conceded to Ukraine. See if you can sport the impress Formula at work here as he attributes the goal to a temporary, specific and external cause;

We were just unfortunate that having given it away the guy scores such a wonder goal from 20-odd yards … his shot might fly over the crossbar and you forget all about it, but when it goes into the roof of the net you analyze every single detail of how you lost the ball

He goes on in the same piece to say;

We are more than capable of going anywhere in the world and getting results as we’ve shown in the past.

Which nicely sums up a consistent theme in his language emphasising the permanent, general & internal qualities of the team.

Focusing on Wayne Rooney & the players

Having deflected attention from the teams shortcomings and emphasised the positives in the performance, Roy Hodgson has worked hard at developing the confidence and positivity of a number of players. Rooney, although not playing in these games, is consistently praised by Hodgson. For example, Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph talks about the managers ‘total faith in him’. I suspect that Roy sees Rooney as one of a handful of players who can do something magical to win a match. So he makes sure he keeps Rooney positive by frequently emphasising the players importance to the team and his quality.

England fielded five young players against Moldovia and Ukraine. Over the two matches fortunes were mixed and Hodgson is at pains to make any disappointments temporary, specific and external whilst emphasising their quality and potential as permanent, general and internal. For example, the Oliver Platt’s report carried in Yahoo quotes Roy Hodgson as saying;

this will be a very, very good experience for those five young players who were thrust into the fray and had to battle to get a result from the game … Bertrand, Sturridge and Welbeck made a difference … tt’s nice when a player comes on the scene like Cleverley and Oxlade-Chamberlain and they have excellent games [against Moldova] and everyone writes them up and says ‘fantastic, we’ve got two excellent young players here

Hodgson ‘Manages His State’ in adversity

So Hodgson has worked very hard to build confidence, belief and mental strength in the side and in a number of individual players. The hardest time to be positive is after a disappointment of a poor performance. Hodgson always ‘Manages His State’ [Step 2 of impress] even in the face of criticism and uses his explanatory style to build up his players and ensure he gets the best out of them.

In adversity this was a strong performance.

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