Hodgson at odds with excitement over Barkley

, 6 June, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
England boss qualifies his comments amid criticism

Roy Hodgson and Roberto Martinez appear to share the same impulse to protect Ross Barkley from the English media's tendency to build players up only to then tear them down but the 20 year-old's international and club managers demonstrated differing approaches to that end in the media yesterday.

Hodgson drew criticism for his ham-fisted attempt at dampening enthusiasm over the player's performance against Ecuador in Miami on Tuesday afternoon after Barkley showed off his prodigious abilities in the 2-2 draw with the South Americans. He set up England's second goal for Ricky Lambert with a scintillating run and showed plenty of other flourishes normally so lacking in the English game but Hodgson initially chose to dwell on the negative aspects of the youngster's display in his comments after the match.

The 66 year-old expanded on his comments in his press conference yesterday, acknowledging Barkley's precocious talents but left few doubts that he sees him as an impact player in Brazil rather than a starter when the Three Lions' World Cup campaign kicks off in eight days' time.

I'm sure he'll be happy with his performance, as a first one for 90 minutes," Hodgson said, "and I think he justified the fact I've taken him with us on this adventure we're embarking on, because a player of his type, with the confidence and who is prepared to take an awful lot of risks with the ball, there will be times in the game when we need him."

He's a talented boy. I'm not criticising him. I'm just making certain that people don't get too carried away. Because unfortunately we know also it's too easy to concentrate on the good things. You would need to watch the game again for 90 minutes through my eyes and see the performance as a whole and not just the cameo moments where he did brilliantly. That's the point I'm making."

In trying to deflect what he termed as the media's "obsession" with Barkley, Hodgson had sought to praise Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere for their displays but reserved little for Barkley who has less international experience.

"He's not here to learn," Hodgson explained. "He's here to be a part of our team and he's here to play. But I think it's a bit unfair on Oxlade-Chamberlain, who really did have an outstanding 60 minutes, and harsh on the two centre-backs, Jones in particular, who in his first game back did ever so well for us, and I think it's harsh on Wilshere and Lampard too. What I'm trying to do is deflect the newspapers from just being about Ross Barkley.

"He's got drive, he's got energy, but he's got to learn when to release the ball. For every good turn there was a time when he lost the ball and put us on the back foot defensively," Hodgson continued, ignoring the fact that it was Oxlade-Chamberlain (who was otherwise impressive) who gave the ball away for Ecuador's first goal and who was injured trying to atone for another giveaway in the second half.

Typically, Martinez elected to use more positive language in support of his rough diamond.

He is a special player, a unique player and this is so rare," the Spaniard said. "He is the biggest talent for his age I have seen in European football. He has power, pace and technical ability — elements you rarely find in a player. He would look at home in the Spanish, German or Dutch models, no doubt about it.

We have a responsibility to develop his talent and to protect him and nurture him. The back-heel to Rooney, the pass for Lambert's goal and the shot Ross had give you an indication of the player that he will become. We have to allow him room to develop and let's not put too much pressure on him.

At the moment he is perfectly suited to playing in the No 10 role, but in time he will develop into the complete midfielder. Nothing fazes him, but the World Cup is a massive event and Ross needs protection. We just need to calm things down a bit and don't expect too much from him. I've seen what Roy had to say after the game but I think he was just trying to protect him a little bit.

Also flying in the face of Hodgson's cold water were comments from veteran midfielder Frank Lampard, who compared Barkley to Wayne Rooney.

"It's the fearlessness of youth," Lampard remarked. "He has great ability on the ball, running at people and taking them out — and that's what you want to see.

"It's brilliant for him, brilliant for the team and individually to see him come through. It's great for the team to have players in those attacking areas who can make things happen.

"I'm sure he will have learnt a lot from the game in terms of positions to pick up, times to turn, times not to. But when you've got players like that in a team, players who can run away from people and make things happen, then you're very happy."

Quotes sourced from The Telegraph

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