The Andy Gray Column: Roy Hodgson proving doubters wrong despite Sweden defeat

Summary: ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to South West Londoner…


ROY Hodgson is proving all the people who criticised or mocked his England appointment wrong – despite Wednesday’s defeat to Sweden there were plenty of positives to take from that game.

He’s defying those who said he was too old, or stuck in his ways, or wasn’t flexible enough about his tactical preferences.

Since taking the reins he has thrown all that out of the window and full credit to him for doing that. They almost played 4-1-4-1 on Wednesday and it worked an absolute treat for them. Roy is showing he can mix it up and they did, and I think it’s really working for them.

I thought for 70 minutes England were excellent. Until they made the changes they were in control of the game. They played football the way people want to see it, they got the ball down, they kept possession, they tried to play it, and they made chances.

They look a lot more clinical in possession now as well, for Danny Welbeck’s goal within three passes England had scored.

I think the Hodgson project is shaping up very well. New, young players are being given experience and being taught to use the ball well and pass it.

It’s an encouraging time for England but we will only see how well it is working in two areas. The first of those is during the qualification campaign which they are on now and the ability to get to the World Cup, and then when they are actually there it will be how close they can actually get to winning it.

Certainly the new guys who came through and were on the pitch long enough to make an impression gave a good account of themselves.

Steven Caulker at the back showed what he is: a centre back with huge promise. He’s not there yet but it was a good educational process for him. To play against Zlatan Ibrahimovic for 70 minutes will do wonders for his progress as a centre-back.

Raheem Sterling did exactly what he’s been doing for Liverpool this season. He was a constant threat, he wanted the ball, he didn’t just stand on the wing and be isolated.

He showed great promise and at a young age to do that is incredibly encouraging and if he can keep progressing at the current rate England could have a phenomenal player on their hands.

I thought the pick of them all was Leon Osman. I thought he was fantastic, and maybe it was because he is more experienced as a footballer but he looked like he’d played there 20 or 30 times before.

I thought he was very unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet as well, because he deserved it.

Leon is never going to make headlines because he doesn’t catch the eye in the same way as Steven Gerrard was, or even Ibrahimovic. He goes about his work and gets the job done, he’s what I call a footballer’s footballer.

People who play with him week on week will see what he does and how well he does it.

The best thing for him was he didn’t try to be anyone else, he just played football how he normally does and I think it was demonstrated it was a good decision to call him up.

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