England manager Roy Hodgson looks back at his time in charge during 2012
By Nicholas Veevers
Roy Hodgson looks back on 2012 as an interesting year for himself and is ready to take all of the positives into the new year.
In January, Hodgson was in charge of WBA in the Premier League before his appointment as England manager in May saw him thrust back into the world of international football.
And despite a quarter final exit at the hands of Italy in EURO 2012, Hodgson looks back on the last 12 months with pride.
He said: “It’s been a very interesting year. It was never in my thoughts 12 months ago that I’d be somewhere else, working for England so it’s been a fantastic year for me.
“It hasn’t been too different from what I expected, but when you are asked to be the national team manager for the country of your birth, it’s very special.
“Of course, it’s a job or post which carries an awful lot of responsibility with all the expectation but I was delighted that The FA wanted me to take on that responsibility.”
Hodgson’s first task was to prepare his squad for the Euro Finals in Poland and Ukraine, which presented its own problems with a string of injuries to key players.
But the 65-year-old was pleased with the response he got and the reaction of the English supporters from the very start.
“The first priority was to decide upon the squad for the Euros and to try and get the balance right and hope that we didn’t suffer too many injuries,” he explained.
“But we weren’t lucky in that respect as players who could’ve been with us to provide more experience and competition for places dropped out one by one before the competition for various reasons.
“There was a galvanising of the group anyway, but you’re never certain when you come into a new job how people are going to react to the way you want to work and how you are as a person or a coach.
“But I got the feeling the players were very keen to do well for England and there wasn’t a real problem in terms of motivating and inspiring them.
“We just needed that bit of luck, which ran out for us at the end of the competition.
“I thought it was fantastic the way the nation got behind us. They got behind the team and they believed, like I did, that we could make a decent fist of it.”
Following the disappointment of the defeat against Italy, attention was immediately turned to the qualifying games for the 2014 World Cup.
A 2-1 victory over Italy, just a few weeks after the Euro exit, saw a few new faces on the international scene and a bright start to qualification followed.
But with draws against Ukraine and Poland in their last two qualifiers of the year, England are currently sitting in second place in Group H.
Now Hodgson and his players know what needs to be done in the next year if they are to confirm their place in Brazil 2014, with table-toppers Montenegro lying in wait in late-March.
He said: “With six games to go, it’s good to see the way that the players are playing in their Premier League teams.
“I’m hoping that by March and into the autumn we’ll have a good squad of players to pick from and I strongly believe we have enough quality to qualify from this group.
“There are 18 more points to play for and if we get those 18 points, added to the ones that we have already, then that will be enough.
“Of course it would be very nice if we could get a good result in Montenegro because it takes off the pressure from those final games that we have to play, such as Montenegro at home and Ukraine away.
“It’s an opportunity for a lot of players, for the younger ones to establish themselves and a chance for those who are established to set standards and keep the youngsters at bay from knocking them off their pedestal.
“But most importantly, it’s a year in which England can qualify for what’s going to be a very exciting World Cup in Brazil, where there is another opportunity.”