Monday, December 31, 2007

A Memo to Hodgson

Note: This is from HatterDon, a honcho over at

Hi Roy! Take my advice. I hardly ever use it myself.

You've got a bunch of players in the house and 11 positions on the pitch and just because you've done well at club and country level for more than 20 years doesn't stop me from telling you what to do. And you should listen, because I'm one of the few people who is actually older than you. So here we go:

1. Goalkeeper: Today you got to see the yin and yang of Antti Niemi in person. On the one hand his reaction save off Queudrue saved a point for us. It was a save that Paul Robinson could only pull off in his dreams. On the other hand, he continued to put unneeded pressure on his back four because he doesn't come off his line enough, and he sapped the flow of energy we had built up by taking forever to get the ball upfield. So, if you haven't landed a potential number one goalie by the time Kasey Keller gets back to full fitness, pass along the gloves to the bald guy from the Pacific Northwest and keep Niemi on the sub's bench. Oh, and get rid of Warner as soon as you possibly can.

2. Defense: Please keep playing Omozusi. Giving him a shot was practically the only team selection decision Sanchez made that I thought was spot on. Try Baird at centre back. Oh, and please don't sell Volzy. I spent a buttload of quid buying a jersey with his name on the back.

3. Midfield: NEVER let Murphy start again. He's an old Steve Davis. Of the two, I'd rather have the Irishman. And, I know he's thin, but try not to lose sight of Alexey Smertin. Evidently Sanchez couldn't see him through those Kray Brothers glasses of his and kept using Murphy or Seol in his stead. And that reminds me, lose the Korean as well. His game has gone missing so long it belongs on a milk carton. Keep playing Simon Davies and don't give up on Hammeur Bouazza. Oh, and think about Clint Dempsey playing slightly behind the front two. And most of all, send Jimmy the Bull out onto the pitch and just tell him to have fun.

4. Striker: It would be nice if we have one. Dempsey's done a great job there, but he'd be the first to drawl that he's not a target man. You've got Brian McBride there, but you need a pacy hungry greedy poacher to play off him. I'm not convinced that Healy isn't that guy, but I am convinced that we should never see Kuqi in an FFC shirt again. I mean, I like the guy, but he couldn't get a game with Palace and they're in the CCC. You should know that, of course, since you were his coach in the Finnish squad. Unless you've got a January transfer in the bag early on, think about giving Healy and Kamara 90 minutes each as the strike pair for two or three matches, just to see what happens.

5. Youth/reserves: Let's start emphasizing that. Inter certainly did that when you were there. We've got some great kids as well as some promise on the fringes of the first team squad and in the reserves. Let's see them from time to time and build something lasting from the ground up.

6. And lets play football. What you saw today was the first time in forever that we've strung together a sequence of passes. No kidding. I've seen three or four matches this season where we've never had more than three passes before losing possession -- in the entire game. We've got skill players -- Davies, Dempsey, Bullard, uh, ...., -- some other guys. Let's attack and play interesting passing ball. Who knows, it might even wake up some of the fans in the Cottage.

Thanks for listening and good luck, Roy. We're all pulling for you.