What about Redknapp?

Hodgson will pay the price for not being the chosen candidate of sportswriters.

Roy Hodgson is a dead man walking already. 

Look at the photos of him being driven to Wembley in the past couple of days and you’ll see a childlike gleam of excitement in his eyes. It’s as if he couldn’t believe that his day would come, yet he’s so delighted that it is. “Me, the manager of England!” he seems to be saying to himself. 
 
But that seemed to have gone already by yesterday’s first press conference, where the predictable questions began. Why wasn’t he Harry Redknapp? Why wasn’t he Harry Redknapp? And why wasn’t he Harry Redknapp? 
 
Never underestimate a wounded sportswriter. These people are valued by the knowledge and contacts they have, and they were all blindsided by the FA’s decision to go for Hodgson instead of Redknapp. It left them looking like the clueless bunch of sheep they really are, and they didn’t like it. 
 
No-one gave them the steer they wanted, so they behaved as a pack, telling their editors that they had the inside info and they knew what the decision would be. There was only one obvious choice – Harry Redknapp, the People’s Favourite, England’s Rosie 47, with his deflated whoopee cushion face, a man who would have needed a half-rolled-down car window to be brought to all press conferences to add that authentic touch. 
 
They were wrong, and now they look stupid. Hodgson will pay the price for not being their chosen candidate. 
 
And so it began. There were four questions about Redknapp at the press conference, though no-one asked the one that really mattered: Why on earth didn’t you pick the person we told you to? Over the past few days, Redknapp has been elevated to great status, to the level of Brian Clough, a man who won the European Cup twice (with players he could afford, it might be noted), and should have gone to the UEFA cup final as well, but for a bribed referee. 
 
Well, Redknapp’s not that good, but he’s not that bad either. It was probably a close decision. Hodgson hasn’t won a cabinet full of trophies during his managerial career either, but it was probably his experience in tournament football that tipped the vote his way. 
 
The first whispers of dissent from Hodgson’s camp will be seen as evidence that the FA got it wrong, rather than the more unpalatable possibility that this generation of players are a bunch of pampered infants who don’t care for the England shirt as much as they do for the fame and glory of the Premiership. The journos will have to work with the players when Hodgson is gone, after all; they need to keep them on side.   
 
We know it already, those of us who’ve seen England through thin and thin these past few years of trophyless despair. We try and back our managers, our hope that they might provide that elusive spark, but we know, sooner or later, there will come the time when they say goodbye and hand the baton de merde over to a new candidate. 
 
For what it’s worth, I’d like to see Hodgson succeed, just as I wanted Capello to succeed, and McClaren, and all the others. I think he has a better chance than most, and was probably the right choice. But what do I know? 
 
The hope rises again, but the knives are already being sharpened. 
Why didn't Harry Redknapp get the gig? Photo: Getty Images
Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media
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The Tinder dating app isn't just about sex – it's about friendship, too. And sex

The lines between sex, love and friendship are blurrier than ever, as I found out quickly while using the app.

The first time I met someone using Tinder, the free dating app that requires users to swipe left for “no” and right for “yes” before enabling new “matches” to chat, it was an unqualified success. I should probably qualify that. I was newly single after five years in a committed relationship and wasn’t looking for anything more than fun, friendship and, well, who knows. A few weeks earlier I had tried to give my number to a girl in a cinema café in Brixton. I wrote it on a postcard I’d been using as a bookmark. She said she had a boyfriend, but wanted to keep the postcard. I had no date and I lost my page.

My Tinder date was a master’s student from Valencia called Anna (her name wasn’t really Anna, of course, I’m not a sociopath). When I arrived at the appointed meeting place, she told me I was far more handsome IRL (“in real life”) than my pictures suggested. I was flattered and full of praise for the directness of continental Europeans but also thought sadly to myself: “If only the same could be said about you.”

Anna and I became friends, at least for a while. The date wasn’t a success in the traditional sense of leading us into a contract based on exclusivity, an accumulating cache of resentments and a mortgage, but it had put me back in the game (an appropriate metaphor – people speak regularly of “playing” with the app).

According to Sean Rad, the co-founder who launched Tinder in late 2012, the service was invented for people like me. “It was really a way to overcome my own problems,” he told the editor of Cosmopolitan at an event in London last month. “It was weird to me, to start a conversation [with a stranger]. Once I had an introduction I was fine, but it’s that first step. It’s difficult for a lot of people.” After just one outing, I’d learned two fundamental lessons about the world of online dating: pretty much everyone has at least one decent picture of themselves, and meeting women using a so-called hook-up app is seldom straightforwardly about sex.

Although sometimes it is. My second Tinder date took place in Vienna. I met Louisa (ditto, name) outside some notable church or other one evening while visiting on holiday (Tinder tourism being, in my view, a far more compelling way to get to know a place than a cumbersome Lonely Planet guide). We drank cocktails by the Danube and rambled across the city before making the romantic decision to stay awake all night, as she had to leave early the next day to go hiking with friends. It was just like the Richard Linklater movie Before Sunrise – something I said out loud more than a few times as the Aperol Spritzes took their toll.

When we met up in London a few months later, Louisa and I decided to skip the second part of Linklater’s beautiful triptych and fast-track our relationship straight to the third, Before Midnight, which takes place 18 years after the protagonists’ first meet in Vienna, and have begun to discover that they hate each others’ guts.

Which is one of the many hazards of the swiping life: unlike with older, web-based platforms such as Match.com or OkCupid, which require a substantial written profile, Tinder users know relatively little about their prospective mates. All that’s necessary is a Facebook account and a single photograph. University, occupation, a short bio and mutual Facebook “likes” are optional (my bio is made up entirely of emojis: the pizza slice, the dancing lady, the stack of books).

Worse still, you will see people you know on Tinder – that includes colleagues, neighbours and exes – and they will see you. Far more people swipe out of boredom or curiosity than are ever likely to want to meet up, in part because swiping is so brain-corrosively addictive.

While the company is cagey about its user data, we know that Tinder has been downloaded over 100 million times and has produced upwards of 11 billion matches – though the number of people who have made contact will be far lower. It may sound like a lot but the Tinder user-base remains stuck at around the 50 million mark: a self-selecting coterie of mainly urban, reasonably affluent, generally white men and women, mostly aged between 18 and 34.

A new generation of apps – such as Hey! Vina and Skout – is seeking to capitalise on Tinder’s reputation as a portal for sleaze, a charge Sean Rad was keen to deny at the London event. Tinder is working on a new iteration, Tinder Social, for groups of friends who want to hang out with other groups on a night out, rather than dating. This makes sense for a relatively fresh business determined to keep on growing: more people are in relationships than out of them, after all.

After two years of using Tinder, off and on, last weekend I deleted the app. I had been visiting a friend in Sweden, and took it pretty badly when a Tinder date invited me to a terrible nightclub, only to take a few looks at me and bolt without even bothering to fabricate an excuse. But on the plane back to London the next day, a strange thing happened. Before takeoff, the woman sitting beside me started crying. I assumed something bad had happened but she explained that she was terrified of flying. Almost as terrified, it turned out, as I am. We wound up holding hands through a horrific patch of mid-air turbulence, exchanged anecdotes to distract ourselves and even, when we were safely in sight of the ground, a kiss.

She’s in my phone, but as a contact on Facebook rather than an avatar on a dating app. I’ll probably never see her again but who knows. People connect in strange new ways all the time. The lines between sex, love and friendship are blurrier than ever, but you can be sure that if you look closely at the lines, you’ll almost certainly notice the pixels.

Philip Maughan is Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad