You can see why.He was parachuted into the job with a few weeks to spare, his best player was suspended for the two opening games and the main goal thus became avoiding the kind of horrendous showing – think first-round exit – that would leave his new regime in a public opinion hole with two years to go to Brazil 2014.
And so we saw England with two buses parked in front of Joe Hart. It wasn't pretty, but going out on penalties in the quarter-finals to the eventual finalists was, ultimately, the kind of performance that buys you time.
Now, however, it's time to build. Judging by the XI seen against Moldova, Hodgson isn't quite ready to shed the shackles just yet.
Seven of the starting XI made their England debuts way back in 2004 or earlier: much earlier, in the case of some, such as Frank Lampard, who first pulled on an England shirt in 1999. And it probably would have been eight out of 11 had Ashley Cole been fit and picked at left-back ahead of Leighton Baines.
It's easy to criticise Hodgson for sending out an XI which has virtually no chance of playing in Brazil. Lampard and Steven Gerrard will be nearly 36 and 34 respectively, and John Terry 33. If you're going to experiment a bit, why not do it against Moldova, a side you'd expect your under-21s to beat, as evidenced by the five-nil scoreline?
Yet it's also about striking a balance. Friday was an audition for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the wing and Tom Cleverley in midfield as much as anything else. Stick the youngsters into a disjointed side with plenty of other fresh faces and it will be harder for them to show what they can do. But slot them in with veterans in a system they know and you'll get a fairer test. Both passed with flying colours on the night, as did Baines, whose quality was never in doubt.
The challenge will be finding alternatives to Gerrard and Lampard who look viable in 2014. (Centre-half and Terry's heir is less of an issue, with the likes of Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and maybe even Micah Richards and Steven Caulker). The cupboard looks pretty bare in the middle of the park.
It's unclear how much playing time Jack Rodwell (21) and Jordan Henderson (22) will get over the next two years, whether Jones, who again broke down, will get a shot in midfield and whether Jack Wilshere, who hasn't played in 15 months, will return to his previous form.
Jermain Defoe, who scored against Moldova, isn't the likely long-term answer up front, not least because he hasn't been a full-time starter at club level since 2010 and doesn't look like he will be again. But as long as Wayne Rooney is around, England will be OK, especially with Danny Welbeck, Darren Bent and maybe even Andy Carroll as alternatives.
With a fairly manageable qualifying group – provided there are no slip-ups, starting on Tuesday at home to Ukraine – you could see England securing a place early. The challenge will then be finding a way to get the veterans to exit stage left, pushing their replacements and giving this side an identity different to the one seen at the Euros.
That's where Hodgson's tenure will stand or fall.
Last week, Manchester United announced their new state-of-the-art medical centre will open in November. It's a £13 million project and, unsurprisingly, no commercial opportunity has gone unexploited, as equipment and facilities will be supplied by Toshiba.
Last year, the United squad suffered 39 "significant" injuries – defined as those requiring a player to miss at least two weeks – costing them 1681 days lost to injury. Compared to Manchester City – who suffered seven significant injuries and a total of 186 days lost – it's a staggering amount. The old cliche' is that the best "ability" a player can have is "availABILITY" and these numbers seem to confirm it.
The thing is, when it comes to evaluating doctors and injuries, so much of it is guesswork, both for the media and for clubs. We're not doctors and, even if we were, we would not have access to a player's medical files. So all you can really do is speculate and conclude that, at best, it's anomalous for United to suffer so many more injuries than City (a disparity which appears to be outside the statistical margin of error). There does appear to be a certain level of randomness, though. AC Milan, whose "Milan Lab" at their Milanello training ground was long hailed as the cutting edge of treatment, have suffered a fearsome string of injuries over the past few seasons, much like United. Were they just unlucky? Or is Milan Lab not all it's cracked up to be?
Whatever the case, it's obvious that when you lose nearly 10 times as many man-hours as your closest rivals, you're going to be at a serious disadvantage.
Uefa were beating the usual Financial Fair Play drum at the Champions' League draw in Monte Carlo. Whatever you think of FFP, you wonder if the term "fair play" really belongs in the name.
It's not just the pretty obvious fact that bigger clubs in bigger cities in bigger leagues have an in-built advantage which has little or nothing to do with fair play. You can't legislate for geography. But the varying tax regimes across Europe also play a huge part and give certain clubs a massive leg-up.
When Robin van Persie receives his salary every two weeks, he gets around £200,000 in take-home pay. That's because he earns around £200,000 per week and half of that goes to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. So, roughly speaking, Van Persie costs United some £10m a year. But if United were based in Monaco, where there is no income tax for foreign residents, Van Persie would cost only £5m a year. And if United were in Russia – with its 13% rate of income tax – he'd only cost £6m a season. Of course, it could be worse: with French president Francois Hollande saying he wants to raise the top tax rate to 75% on those earning more than €1m a year, were United based across the Channel, Van Persie could cost them £15m a year.
Obviously, this is a huge disparity and anything but a level playing field. So here's a humble suggestion for Uefa, if they want to insist on calling it "fair play": why not make your FFP calculations based on net wages paid, rather than gross expenditure? It may require a bit more work from the bean counters but at least it would be marginally "fairer".
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