England’s Euro 2016 undermined by friction between Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville
• England manager’s methods were openly questioned by his own staff • ‘The players got on fine. It was the coaches who fell out,’ the Observer is told
England’s Euro 2016 campaign was undermined by a deterioration in the working relationship between Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville and a series of disagreements among the coaching staff, the Observer can reveal.
While the England players bonded well during the tournament, it has emerged there was friction behind the scenes when it came to Hodgson and members of his backroom staff.
Although the relevant people all have considerable respect for one another, in the worst moments there was a clear divide about the team’s methods and, in particular, signs of tension between Hodgson and Neville.
Others became involved, with Hodgson’s methods openly being questioned by his own staff. “The players got on fine,” this newspaper has been told. “It was the coaches who fell out.”
The Football Association was so concerned about high jinks at the team’s base in Chantilly it has also emerged the £500-a-night Auberge du Jeu de Paume was told to remove its chandeliers before the players arrived or risk them being smashed. The hotel reopened this weekend and staff have revealed they took down their most expensive glass fittings because the FA was worried they might be damaged.
While the players were generally supportive of Hodgson and angered by reports that they questioned Raheem Sterling’s selection in the Iceland game, the fact they took it upon themselves to remove Harry Kane from corner-taking duties indicates they were not always happy with the manager’s tactics.
Hodgson’s training methods – questioned by Steven Gerrard after the last World Cup – were one source of the disagreements. Neville had a close ally in Dave Watson, the goalkeeping coach. Players have complained of mixed messages and the general sense of confusion is not eased by the revelation that one turned to the dugout during the Iceland defeat and asked where a team-mate was supposed to be playing.
The revelations come on the same day the FA’s chief executive, Martin Glenn, described his predecessors as “naive” for paying so much to previous England managers and made it clear the next appointment would be offered a performance-related salary.
Hodgson’s annual £3.5m pay meant he had the highest basic salary of all the managers at Euro 2016, though still considerably less than the £6m-a-year packages that were put in place for Fabio Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson.
“Roy’s got a fortune but it’s half the fortune that Fabio got,” Glenn said. “The argument against Sven and Fabio in the past was that it wasn’t benchmarked. We were just naive. I think we will pay a benchmark salary for the right person. To start off, it has to be results-orientated.
“My view on these things is: take the emotion out of it, what are benchmark earnings for top-quality football management? To get a really good person, if they are currently earning £4m in a club you have to be in that zone.”
Glenn, describing himself as “distressed” by England’s failings, added: “Luckily, we’ve got the FA finances now. It’s been ugly but we’ve restructured, we’ve reorganised, we’re in a better financial position than we’ve ever been, which doesn’t mean I want to be lax with the money.
“I know a little bit about what Joachim Löw gets. There are other things in there that we don’t have in ours. Certainly in the case of Germany there’s a percentage of the sponsorship figure that goes direct to the manager. So when you look at the total package it’s little bit different.
“We need to be in the zone of what the world champions are paying and, competitively, how to make it attractive to someone.
We are going into the market and you’ve got to pay a market attractive rate, but no one wants to be naive.”England will begin the new era with a friendly at Wembley on 1 September, pencilled in against the Czech Republic, followed three days later by a game in Slovakia for the team’s first World Cup qualifier.
If an appointment has not been made before then it is still possible Gareth Southgate, the Under-21s manager, will be asked to fill in purely for those two games.
Southgate is reluctant to be appointed as interim manager and, privately, the FA has admitted that decision has caught them on the hop. Glenn and his colleagues expected Southgate to jump at the chance.
Arsène Wenger has given the FA little encouragement and that leaves an extensive list of candidates that features Laurent Blanc, Roberto Martínez, Slaven Bilic and Jürgen Klinsmann, with Glenn Hoddle, Sam Allardyce, Steve Bruce and Eddie Howe leading the list of English options.
Glenn reiterated that he would prefer an English manager “but if you look at it there aren’t that many at the top level”.
To that effect, the FA is not restricting its search, especially when it has already been reported that senior players actively want a foreign appointment, believing the English candidates to be underwhelming. Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and James Milner will all be consulted but the FA is already aware of feelings in the dressing room.
Glenn confirmed Steve Peters, the psychiatrist who formed part of Hodgson’s entourage in France, was unlikely to be involved in the new regime on the basis the FA wanted dedicated full-time people to help get into the players’ minds.
“Steve has been great and fair play to Roy because it was a bit of leap in the dark,” Glenn said. “I think there is an open question now of: ‘Could we use people like Steve or others in a more structured way, in the way we do with the development teams?’ That is an open question and I would want the next England manager to be open to that type of idea.”