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Football | England

Hodgson seeks a little help from his friends



As the latest custodian of the England team, Roy Hodgson knows the buck stops with him when it comes to results but he believes a brainstorming session with those who went before him could help him restore the country's footballing pride.

One of the most highly-paid and prestigious jobs in world football has been too much for a succession of some of the game's most decorated coaches - the task of emulating the class of 1966 always ending in frustrating failure.

Several of them sat beside Hodgson at the Connaught Rooms near London's Covent Garden on Wednesday as the Football Association launched its 150th anniversary year celebrations on the site of the former Freemason's Tavern where the FA was born and the rules of the game were penned.

Fabio Capello, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Terry Venables and Graham Taylor, as well as Hodgson, watched as 150 years of English football history was projected on a screen, including the iconic image of the late Bobby Moore hoisting aloft the old Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley in 1966.

Since that day, England have huffed and puffed but failed to reach such heights with depressing regularity.

With World Cup qualification still by no means certain, Hodgson will need all the help he can get over the coming months and seemed pleased to be surrounded by some of his predecessors on Wednesday.

"Fabio was quite talkative today," Hodgson, who was given the job before the Euro 2012 finals after Capello quit, told reporters on Wednesday.

"It would be nice to have a brainstorming session if the five of us could get together in a room, and you could add (Kevin) Keegan and (Glenn) Hoddle to that as well.

"We could compare notes and ideas. If there was ever a possibility of that I would love to do that, but to be frank it never happens because they are all in jobs and we only ever get to meet up briefly at events like this."

STEADY, NOT SPECTACULAR

Hodgson's reign has so far been steady and far from spectacular. A limited style of play ended in quarterfinal defeat by Italy in Euro 2012 and draws against Poland and Ukraine in their World Cup qualifying group mean they trail tiny Montenegro and face some crucial fixtures this year.

Failure to qualify from a comfortable group is unthinkable.

"We must make sure we keep our eyes firmly focused on the goal of Brazil," Hodgson said.

"The first thing we have to do is qualify for the World Cup, that's vitally important. And when we qualify we have to give a good account of ourselves in Brazil and, once you are there, you have a chance of winning it, who knows?"

Hodgson, who has coached all over the world including at clubs such as Inter Milan and more recently Liverpool, said keeping the job in perspective helped him handle the pressure.

"There is a lot of pressure and it's a very prestigious job and it puts you very much in the spotlight but then if you say this is (the biggest job) the Brazilians get upset and the Germans tell you you don't know what you're talking about and the Spanish say you should try over there.

"But it's a very important job, it's a massive responsibility because a nation wants you to succeed."

Like those who sat in the hot seat before him, particularly since the globalisation of the Premier League, Hodgson said there were aspects of the job that left him powerless.

Several members of Hodgson's squad are not even starting regularly for their clubs - a situation that would have been unthinkable to Alf Ramsey in 1966.

With some of England's stalwarts nearing the end of their international careers, Hodgson has shown faith in young players like Arsenal teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who narrated the potted video history of the FA in 150 seconds on Wednesday.

"You have to believe in the younger players and their potential but you don't have a strong handle on that and you can only hope that they get games and continue learning," he said.

"More importantly, most coaches will have in their head 14 or 15 players. They will say we need these guys, these are the important ones. You can only hope that when the matches come around, the big ones, they are there for you."

Asked if England could make an impact in Brazil, Hodgson said: "There's always hope. Hope springs eternal."

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