Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Axing Roy Now Would Be Half-Baked but He Needs to Raise His Game

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Axing Roy Now Would Be Half-Baked but He Needs to Raise His Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Des Kelly

THE news that The Great British Bake Off attracted nearly double the television audience of England's most recent international match came as a complete surprise, especially when you consider how much drama there was.

Remember that moment when Raheem Sterling was sent clear of the Norway defence by Daniel Sturridge, only to fluff the chance because Mary Berry made Martha cry by saying her custard tarts had an inexplicably soggy bottom? Oh, hang on a minute. There is a chance I may have been fiddling about with the remote control, too.

Even so, I'd rather bake a cake than watch England at the moment.

Wembley was half full against Norway, so I'm obviously not alone. Why fork out to see overpriced stodge flung into the oven, when the recipe is always the same and whatever emerges is destined for the bin? Amusingly, England's head chef Roy Hodgson responded to his critics with the kind of restraint Gordon Ramsay showed the day he accidentally dropped his sausage in a deep fat fryer.

"Absolute f ***ing b******s," he snapped, when informed his players had managed two shots on target against Norway.

The sight of Hodgson biting back at his detractors was at odds with his public profile but, for that moment, he exhibited more passion than his players in the preceding 90 minutes. Hodgson went on, adding: "Don't give me statistics -- you can use them to prove anything".

This is true. For instance, you can prove two defeats in the group stages of a World Cup will lead to a humiliating early exit. Statistics are cruel like that.

You can also point out that of all the teams who underwhelmed out in South America, only Russia, Portugal and England have retained their head coach. While Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Ivory Coast all removed the man in charge. So, statistically, Hodgson can count himself fortunate that he is still in the job. …

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