Has there ever been a press conference unveiling a new football manager which featured so many questions about the guy that didn't get the job?
As Roy Hodgson took his place in front of the media alongside his new Club England cohorts - who Early Doors likes to imagine spend time perfecting their secret handshake and building forts when they are not recruiting a new manager - the name Harry Redknapp came up repeatedly.
As David Bernstein played away questions about the undemocratically anointed 'people's choice' and other potential candidates, Hodgson could have been forgiven for waving his arms and saying: "Hello? I'm right here!"
In fact, after some of the headlines and columns questioning his appointment, the outgoing West Brom boss must have been tempted go full-on Joe Kinnear on the assembled press:
RH: "Which one of you is Martin Lipton?"
ML: "I am."
RH: "You're a ****."
ML: "Thank You."
This is not to say that there has been a concerted anti-Roy agenda among the press — which, after all, is a collection of people with contrasting views and not a single, non-sentient machine programmed to either crown or crush those it follows — but the adjustment from the long-held consensus that Redknapp would take the job to now reporting on Hodgson sitting in the hot seat within the space of 48 hours is noticeable.
Now that Hodgson has been confirmed in the job, however, there is a distinct change of tack in this morning's headlines, although the tone has been set by The Sun's effort of: "Bwing on the Euwos! (We'll see you in Ukwaine against Fwance)." Look! He's got a speech impediment! Isn't that funny? Haha, Bernstein's got one too!
Perhaps there is a nice bit of justice in the fact that two other papers have front pages today featuring pictures of The Sun's proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, with the respective headlines "Murdoch: The damning verdict" and "Beginning of the end?".
Even before the spectre of Redknapp was raised, there was no messing about with the questions fired Hodgson's way. The second one was about whether John Terry and Rio Ferdinand could play together in light of... well, you know... and the third was about who his captain would be. Combined, those are the two issues which led to the job becoming vacant in the first place.
Just for good measure, there was even a question thrown in about his views on the former Apartheid regime in South Africa, as Hodgson had spent a season as a player there during the 1970s. An interesting bit of trivia about the new manager that many England fans would not have known, sure, but what the desired answer was is anyone's guess. Needless to say, "Hodgson: Strijdom was just misunderstood" is not splashed across any front pages this morning.
Still, Hodgson played away all of these questions with a straight bat, cautiously making sure everyone understood that this was not even his first official day in the job yet, but also that he is not a man out of his depth and was ready for the task ahead. After all, as Bernstein pointed out, the FA has just appointed a full-time England manager with previous international management experience for the first time ever.
A common response to the citation of Hodgson's tenures with Switzerland, Finland and UAE is to question what he has ever won with them. To which ED's knee-jerk reaction would be to ask what England have won in all of the 36 years Hodgson has been a manager. Remember, this is a nation which puts its victory in Le Tournoi and two semi-final appearances in its list of honours at the front of every match programme.
What Hodgson did do was lead Switzerland to back-to-back tournaments for the first time in 40 years — including one for which England did not qualify — and led them up to a high of third in the world rankings. Even those out there who question the validity of that system — i.e. everyone outside of FIFA headquarters — for a nation like the Swiss to be up there takes some doing.
Hodgson's responses may not have had them rolling in the aisles of the Wembley press room as Redknapp would have done, but he is not a comedian. He is a football manager with eight league titles to his name and one who was voted Manager of the Year by his peers just two years ago.
As such, he has as much claim to be the best candidate as any of the other managers who may have been in the running, so let's let him get on with his new job. Once he finishes his old one, of course.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't think it can be described as a performance. The attitude was very poor. I think we got what we deserved from the game and that was absolutely nothing. If you don't approach the game properly you're not going to get anything. I take part of the blame because I thought I was being fair to everybody by giving them the opportunity to get some minutes on the pitch. The game coming up on Saturday is important to the club. I tried to be fair and give everyone an opportunity - maybe I was wrong." — Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is scathing of his players after a side featuring a few fringe players slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Fulham, the first ever win at Anfield for the Cottagers.
FOREIGN VIEW: "I have been a coach for 12 years and for me I will be annoyed in June when I don't have any matches as I will miss training and playing, playing and training. But everyone is the way they are and you have to respect and accept that and hope that they really do find enjoyment because the most important thing in life is to enjoy it. If for him enjoying life means withdrawing from football for a while then so be it and I send him a hug." — Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has some kind words for Pep Guardiola following his counterpart's decision to quit Barcelona last week.
COMING UP: Full live coverage of two big Premier League fixtures at either end of the table — Chelsea v Newcastle United (19:45) and Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur (20:00), plus THREE matches in La Liga — (Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad 17:00), Barcelona v Malaga (19:00) and Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid (21:00) PLUS live updates from each of this evening's Serie A games from 19:45, with title-chasers AC Milan and Juventus both in action.
Before that, we'll be putting Wigan's in-form forward Victor Moses under the microscope, and former Leeds and Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister takes our quickfire 60 Seconds quiz.