With the World Cup now just three days away, it’s fair to say that England boss Gareth Southgate is winning over many with his calm yet considered approach, including current squad member Jamie Vardy who used his time in front of the press on Saturday to compare him favourably to former gaffer, Roy Hodgson.
It’s now been almost two full years since the disastrous defeat at the hands of Iceland which brought England’s Euro 2016 campaign to a shuddering halt but on the eve of the World Cup, it was a topic that Vardy was clearly keen to explore. Pulling no punches whatsoever, the Leicester City striker admitted that he and his teammates simply weren’t prepared for the prospect of falling behind on the night, laying the blame for it squarely at the current Palace boss’ door.
Admittedly, it wasn’t an anecdote thrown out by Vardy as a mere dig at Hodgson, with his sentiments instead being expressed to highlight the greater level of preparedness that has been encouraged and worked on under Southgate’s watch. He may not have been many people’s first choice when he was first given the job by the FA but ahead of the 23-man squad heading out to Russia, it’s clear to see that Vardy and his teammates feel both comfortable and free to express themselves under him.
On a domestic front, I fail to see how anyone, either inside or outside the Palace bubble can fault the job Roy Hodgson has done at Selhurst Park but nationally, there is simply no getting away from the fact that England’s defeat to Iceland cast a dark cloud over the Three Lions which is only just beginning to clear. Whilst I am keen not to attribute all of the blame to Roy, (the players must accept a huge amount of responsibility for the defeat too) it’s certainly interesting to see a current England player openly taking swipes at a former boss in an official press interview.
Let’s hope Gareth and his players don’t suffer a similar humiliation out in Russia, for fear of Vardy being left with egg on his face.