England assistant coach Gary Neville says Roy Hodgson has been “bold” and should remain as head coach beyond Euro 2016.
Hodgson’s contract expires after this summer’s tournament and the Football Association has an understanding with the 68-year-old that a decision on his future will be taken after the competition with his chances of a new deal depending on how the team have played and their progress.
The former Switzerland chief has said he would be happy to relinquish his role as England manager if it becomes clear the public do not want him to continue in the job, but his No. 2 Neville thinks Hodgson is transforming the team and should stay on regardless of what happens this summer.
Neville, who was recently sacked as Valencia coach, believes the modifications in the squad, which began at the end of a disappointing World Cup campaign in 2014, have gone unnoticed.
Having lost to Italy and Uruguay, Hodgson played teenagers Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling, against Costa Rica, while Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley were all 22-years-old or younger.
Of the experienced players in the squad only 36-year-old Frank Lampard played in the last game before the squad returned from Brazil, with the travelling England supporters showing their appreciation after the scoreless draw.
“We owe those fans something,” said Neville in an interview for the book, Fifty Years Of Hurt.
“The way in which they treated us at the end of that game against Costa Rica, when we walked over to them, I’ve never seen that before.
“I hope people recognise there was an 18-year-old on the pitch against Costa Rica in Luke Shaw, there was Ross Barkley, Phil Jones, all youngish lads apart from Frank.
“Jack Wilshere was 22, and the 19-year-old Raheem Sterling came on.
“Yes, people would argue that the 2014 tournament in Brazil was a major disappointment. I’d agree with that, but this summer is a big moment in terms of how the four years will be viewed in terms of the four-year contract we were all given.
“People will judge it based upon tournaments. I think Roy can be proud of an excellent piece of work.
“It needs a good finish in the summer. My view would be that he would go on beyond the summer because at this moment in time he’s doing the right things and making the right decisions, not just for himself, but for the team long-term.
“I think of 2010 in South Africa and old players called back out of retirement and panic calls on the last day to players to come and play.
“Roy went the other way. He went with Barkley, Sterling, Welbeck, Jones and Smalling. Flanagan and Stones were brought in pre-tournament.
“Post-tournament, Alli and Dier were brought in among others. He’s made a series of really good decisions for the English team but also for future tournaments for the next two to four years and hopefully he, we, can see that through.
“Roy’s brought calmness. Players respect him. They say: “Yes, I like him.” There’s nobody looking at Roy and thinking: ‘He’s a bad man, he’s arrogant’. Actually they say: ‘I’ve got a lot of time for him’.”
Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016 is the youngest England have ever taken to the competition with an average age of a little over 25.
“What Roy’s been over the last four years is bold. He’s taken the average age down from 28/29 to 23/24 from Euro 2012 to Euro 2016.”