King: McCoist will al­ways be wel­come at Ibrox

Eng­land man­ager Hodg­son dis­misses spec­u­la­tion ahead of Ice­land show­down

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE NAILOR

ROY HODG­SON be­lieves there are more im­por­tant things at stake in the Euro 2016 knock­out match with Ice­land than his own fu­ture as Eng­land man­ager.

The pos­si­bil­ity of an ex­ten­sion to the 68-year-old’s four-year reign has been a sim­mer­ing un­der­cur­rent of the team’s time in France, threat­en­ing to come to the boil when out­go­ing Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Greg Dyke dis­cussed the min­i­mum ex­pec­ta­tions for such a deal in a BBC ra­dio in­ter­view.

FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn weighed in on Hodg­son’s side, of­fer­ing “to­tal sup­port” and de­scrib­ing him as a “great man­ager”, but the man him­self de­murred on the eve of the must-win last 16 clash in Nice.

“Ev­ery re­sult is sig­nif­i­cant when you’re a foot­ball coach, so of course tomorrow’s re­sult is very sig­nif­i­cant, but more so for the foot­ball team and the coun­try,” he said.

“We des­per­ately want to stay at the tour­na­ment, we think we’re good enough to stay, but to do that we’ve got to get re­sults.

“That’s got to start tomorrow be­cause there are no draws avail­able, it’s win or lose and we’re aware of that.

“We’ll be try­ing our best to win be­cause we want to stay in the tour­na­ment for the team and the coun­try.”

Hodg­son knows his rep­u­ta­tion with Eng­land hinges on events in the com­ing days.

De­feat by the small­est na­tion to ever ap­pear on this stage would surely bring down the cur­tain on his reign, while progress to a quar­ter-fi­nal with France keeps alive the dream.

It was, then, in­ter­est­ing to hear him pon­der the no­tion of legacy in re­spect of his op­po­site num­ber, Ice­land’s co-man­ager Lars Lager­back.

He and Hodg­son go back many years to the lat­ter’s time coach­ing in Lager­back’s na­tive Swe­den in the 1970s and 80s.

Yet when the Eng­land boss was in­vited to pass ver­dict on his friend’s in­flu­ence, it was hard not to see a re­flec­tion on his own as-yet-un­de­fined po­si­tion at home, com­pared to the revered sta­tus he en­joys in con­ti­nen­tal Europe.

“You never know the im­pact you have as a coach, that’s de­cided by other peo­ple, usu­ally by the peo­ple whose coun­try you’ve been work­ing in,” he said.

“I achieved a lot in Swe­den over 12 years. Lars is one of a group of peo­ple, slightly younger than my­self, who I met at the time and he em­braced the type of foot­ball (fel­low Bri­ton) Bob Houghton and I were play­ing at the time.

“They liked it and took it on board. You de­velop a spe­cial bond with those who liked it and I have ul­ti­mate re­spect for what he’s done. His chances of a statue are a damn sight greater than mine.”

The truth of that fi­nal com­ment might be put to the test should he man­age to de­liver Eng­land’s first tour­na­ment tro­phy since their sole World Cup tri­umph 50 years ago.

But that can­not hap­pen un­less Ice­land, the low­est ranked side re­main­ing at 34th on the FIFA lad­der, are beaten first.

Only then will a mouth­wa­ter­ing tie with the hosts come about, though Hodg­son and com­pany were de­nied an early scout­ing ses­sion on France due to travel ar­range­ments.

Asked if he had seen Les Bleus’ 2-1 win over the Repub­lic of Ire­land, he ex­plained: “I’m sorry to dis­ap­point, but we were in the air at the time.

“We fol­lowed the first five min­utes in the lounge, and then when we got off the plane the fi­nal whis­tle had just blown. If we are lucky enough to get into the quar­ter-fi­nal, we’ll have seen that game and our team will be well pre­pared to meet France.

“That would be an hon­our, but Ice­land have the same am­bi­tion as us.”

Hodg­son also re­acted an­grily to sug­ges­tions of a rift be­tween cap­tain Wayne Rooney and striker Jamie Vardy as he and Rooney took ques­tions in Nice, ap­pear­ing less tense than dur­ing his sim­i­lar en­gage­ment dur­ing the group stages.

But his avun­cu­lar de­meanour gave way to some­thing a lit­tle more testy when a Ger­man broad­caster queried Rooney about news­pa­per re­ports that he had spo­ken with Le­ices­ter for­ward Vardy about his wife Rebekah and her grow­ing pro­file dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

Hodg­son in­ter­vened on his skip­per’s be­half, say­ing: “I’ll an­swer for Wayne.

“I haven’t a clue what you are re­fer­ring to. There are ab­so­lutely no prob­lems in foot­ball terms be­tween Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, quite the re­verse... they are very close friends on and off the field.

“I would cer­tainly ad­vise Wayne to give no com­ment. It’s ob­vi­ously one sala­cious story some­one has man­aged to spin.”

NO RIFT: Eng­land man­ager Roy Hodg­son, left, in­sists striker Jamie Vardy has no is­sues with cap­tain Wayne Rooney

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