How will Roy's Three Lions line up?


Can we just get on with this please? I don't care if he did sneak in ahead of your t'riffic mate 'Arry, I don't care if “literally 14 billion English people” didn't want him, and I especially don't care if there's a touch of the Elmer Fudds about the way he recites his poetry. He's in charge now.

With all the furore and misplaced aggression flying around the amazing interworld webs, a lot of you may have forgotten than sooner or later there's going to be a game of football where he leads out your (I'm half Scottish) beloved England, and we all get to talk about how good he actually is at his job. 

Hodgson is well known as one of the most organised pragmatists in world football. Whilst the thought of someone with an ounce of tactical awareness attempting to manage the England team fills me with so much gallows humour I could weep hysterically, it's certainly going to be interesting to see what sort of team he's likely to field. 

It's no secret that he likes to keep a simple shape, with any complexity coming merely from how it's implemented, so England fans with an unsavoury amount of hair on their knuckles will be delighted to see a return to 4-4-2 (occasionally 4-4-1-1). A proper English formation that, invented by Winston Churchill when he took a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry to the loo during the Battle of Britain, and one that Hodgson's taken with him all over the world.

Joe Hart's the goalkeeper, I think we're all agreed on that one for the next 17 years, so we'll move on.

First of all, Hodgson likes people in the middle of the park who can actually play football. This is terrible news for Steven Gerrard, a player whose tactical awareness and footballing discipline is about on a par with Charles Manson's ability to not stab people brutally to death. Instead, you can expect to see a side built around an excellent passer of the ball - Jack Wilshire's an outstanding candidate for this role, but with injury ruling him out of England's immediate future, Michael Carrick fits the bill best. 

As a side issue, if you don't believe Danny Murphy should have been the first man on the team sheet for the last 3 England managers I will fight you. Like, actually properly fight you. 

The passer will probably be a tactical focal point, but Hodgson is likely to want a brute-with-a-golden-touch to compliment him. This role requires something of a snarling Alsation with a zen like stare, and Scott Parker's approach to the game is more of a horny terrier in sight of a pant leg, but there are, currently, no better options. It's a role you'd like to see Phil Jones or Jack Rodwell grow into over time, and dare I say it, Fabrice Muamba would have (could still, who knows) been well suited to. 

With a steady platform from which to build, it's unlikely that either of these two will be expected to break forward and beyond the attackers, so it's in the wide areas that we'll likely see the greatest amount of variation. There's scope for almost anyone to fit in to the team here, “old fashioned wingers” like Adam Johnson and Aaron Lennon, “fancy-dan cut-insiders” like James Milner and Ashley Young, even “square-pegs in round-holes” like Cleverly and Walcott.

Up front, there's no system that Wayne Rooney couldn't be a part of. Be it as part of conventional pairing, dropping off a target man, or being a focal point himself, he's the only forward player who can be guaranteed a role come what may.

As with on the wings, the other man upfront is likely to chop and change depending on what's required from the game. Is worth noting that Bobby Zamora enjoyed the finest season of his career under Hodgson, but at 31, is unlikely to play too big a role. Danny Welbeck, with his clever link-up play, eye for goal, and ability to hold the ball up, currently offers England's closest approximation of a “Zamora-type”, if indeed one is needed. The likes of Frazier Campbell and Daniel Sturridge usurping Defoe and Bent in the role of anonymous-for-89-minutes-but-likely-to-get-you-a-goal types.

If Hodgson's got the bottle for it, Frank Lampard's England career is probably over and, bold statement time, with his unmatched ability to offer you a genuine ariel threat, Andy Carroll's probably already on the plane. If he can be a £35 million “option” for Liverpool, there's a role for him here.

It's in defence though, specifically the centre of it, where his real headaches will arise. Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker are the sort of galloping steeds around which all football naivety is born. Wing backs are for panty liners, not for football teams attempting to keep their shape, and Hodgson will be quick to unseat any defenders basing their game on Japanese fighter pilots. Doors swing open for the likes of Micah Richards and Leighton Baines, but there's still no need to close one on Ashley Cole.

The gooey centre though, is anybody's guess. Hodgson's presumably smart enough to see through the bulldog tattoo on John Terry's rump and recognise his inadequacies as a footballer, but dropping him altogether would be a very brave move while there's no obvious candidates to replace him. His signing of Brede Hangeland was arguably the catalyst for Fulham's Premier League resurgence, but there's no equivalent player available to England with his combination of strength, elegance, and technique. Except James Perch, of course.

At stingy odds of 10.00 to win the entire tournament, the Three Lions are fourth favourites behind Spain, Germany and Holland. But before he can think about trophies, or even inevitable penalty shootouts,  Roy Hodgson's biggest job as England manager is succeeding where the likes of Eriksson, McClaren and Capello failed: Convincing the English fans and media alike, that the best team isn't necessarily comprised of the players with the highest ratings on trading cards.

Vive la philosophy!