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England

50-50 Challenge: Scotland vs. England

50-50 Challenge
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 By John Cross

Time running out for Hodgson?

England's dismal World Cup failure should raise serious questions about Roy Hodgson's future.

It has been a thoroughly miserable campaign for England after two defeats against Italy and Uruguay. Their group was tagged "D for Death" as it is unquestionably tough, and it was always going to be a struggle to get out of.

However, if England lose their final match to Costa Rica, then the pressure and spotlight on Hodgson will become incredibly intense. It would be the first time England have failed to get past the first phase since 1958, and it would be difficult for the manager to defend his team's failure.

In fairness, England played well against Italy and were rather unlucky to lose. The Azzurri have class players and were simply better. However, against Uruguay, England were disappointing for a large chunk of the game, were very poor defensively and, after getting back to 1-1, it was surely indefensible to then throw it away.

A more shrewd, better manager would surely shut up shop and decide that, if you can't win, then definitely don't lose. Hodgson is a nice guy, but is he up to the job?

In six games as England manager at major tournaments, Hodgson's record is two wins, two draws and two losses.

In the Premier League last season, the magic of a manager was highlighted as both Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez got results through clever tactics and management. They are both young and bright, and they can get the best out of their players, something that Hodgson has surely failed to do.

This World Cup campaign has shown us that England do have quality with the emergence of Raheem Sterling, while Daniel Sturridge has improved and Danny Welbeck has had a good campaign.

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney played well and scored -- finally -- against Uruguay. But the midfield -- with four attackers on the pitch -- looked unbalanced at times.

- Jones: Suarez makes the difference
- Jolly: Defensive shambles

The defence, though, has looked second-rate. At full-back, Leighton Baines was isolated and exposed against Italy, and Glen Johnson was poor defensively against Uruguay. Both centre-halfbacks, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill, were undone by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

A large part of that must come down to the players not being quite good enough, so you cannot completely blame the manager, but the tactics seemed wrong. The midfield was wide-open: 4-3-3 with another man in midfield would surely have offered the defence more protection. An extra man -- someone like Jack Wilshere -- would allow you to keep the ball better.

So let's not completely blame the players. The manager must come under the spotlight. Maybe he'll throw in the kids for the final game, and they may give us some hope for the future. Sterling, Wilshere and Ross Barkley all give England hope.

But if England are going in the wrong direction under Hodgson, then maybe it's time to stop the slide now. Further, the argument that there is no one better out there is hardly compelling. That's no reason to keep a manager in a job if he's not up to it.

The Football Association seems intent on hiring Englishmen, but there are no rules on saying you have to. In my view, getting a second-rate Englishman above a first-rate foreigner, who can take the national team forward, is madness in the extreme.

Many of England's players have worked under foreign managers and have improved as a result. Plus, the truth is that there are not many good English managers out there.

Sam Allardyce's reputation has gone back, Alan Pardew would have been a shout a while back, and then there's Steve Bruce. But who else? Gary Neville? So why not go foreign? Either way, Hodgson's position should -- and must -- come under scrutiny after England's dismal World Cup failure.