The Runners And Riders
Finally, I’ve managed to find a spare hour to write this. First and foremost, I should mention that, in my humble opinion, none of those listed below are capable of winning the World Cup on their own, and nor do I think that their appointments will count for anything unless there is a top to bottom shake down in English football, starting with replacing the FA (all of them – every single one of them) with someone that is at least accountable, right down to changing the culture of the game to try persuade more young players to go abroad and get experience if they can’t get a first team place in this country. There is no reason whatsoever why the Richest Football League In The World can’t do this.
Someone should probably remind the clubs of the Premier League that it was England’s performance in the 1990 World Cup which kick-started the resurgence of interest in the game that they are still feeling the benefits of now. Club football, by its very nature, cannot offer the shared experience of international football (no matter how much three of four clubs try to dominate it) – 11m people watched England-Croatia last Wednesday, a figure that compares favourably with the Champions League Final, which is, of course, the biggest match that club football can offer. Don’t think that advertisers don’t notice this sort of thing, and don’t be surprised if TV audiences for club matches for the rest of this season tail off. So, once British youth have got off their fat backsides and started actually playing the game again, they’re being properly coached and are choosing to go abroad to play rather than warm a substitutes bench in the Premier League and the entire FA Council has been replaced by a new body that is actually accountable to someone, who might have a chance of getting England back to losing in the quarter-finals of major tournaments?
Jose Mourinho: Pros – Very successful at club level (Really, back-to-back championships with Chelsea? A Champions League for Porto? You have to stop and consider what massive achievements they were). Has the ego for the job. The look on John Terry’s face when he turns up for his first training session. Cons – He’s lived in England and must surely know what a terrible job it would be, so I can’t believe that he would want it. England might start playing like Chelsea.
Martin O’Neill: Pros – Has left every club that he has managed (Wycombe Wanderers, Leicester City, Celtic & Aston Villa) in a better condition than it was in when he took the job. Will give good value for money in media interviews. Cons – Jumps up and down a bit too much for my liking. Hasn’t actually won much of note. May already have ruled himself out of the job.
Luiz Felipe Scolari: Pros – Has knocked England out of a major tournament three times. Gave his Brazil players at the 2002 World Cup a copy each of “The Art Of War”. Basically told the Portuguese FA to shut up and let him get on with managing the team. Cons – Hit a Serbian player during a Euro 2008 qualifier. Why on earth would he leave Portugal (better team, better weather) to manage England? Definitely wouldn’t want the press intrusion.
Marcello Lippi: Pros – Has won the World Cup when no-one expected him to do so. Has actually won more or less everything that you can win in Italian football. Cons – He’s in semi-retirement – would he seriously want the job? Leans towards being a motivator rather than a tactician, which is not necessarily what England need at the moment.
Fabio Capello: Pros – Has won the Italian championship at every club that he has managed. Beat Barcelona to La Liga championship last season. Apparently interested in the job. Cons – Has a tendency to get in rows with senior players (Totti, Del Piero, Beckham, Ronaldo, etc).
Jurgen Klinsmann: Pros – Did exceptionally well to get Germany to the semi-finals of the World Cup last year. Speaks excellent English. Always comes across as being an intelligent and thoughtful individual. Cons – If things don’t go perfectly, the press will be straight on his back for being German. Unlikely to move from America to live in this country. Managing Germany at a World Cup on home soil is one thing, getting a moderate England team to the World Cup finals is another altogether.
Harry Redknapp: Pros – Has done exceptionally well over the last couple of years at Portsmouth. Looks like a bassett hound, which will be handy for photoshopping tabloid editors if (or when) things start going wrong. Cons – Is doing reasonably well now, but has managed for a very long time with limited success. Faint whiff of untrustworthiness about him. May hire his son as a coach.
Steve Coppell: Pros – Probably the best English candidate. Cons – Probably the best English candidate, and that’s about it. His record doesn’t stand up to scrutiny compared to those listed above.
Sam Allardyce: Pros – He wears a head-set, so he must know what he’s doing! Cons – Redknappesque whiff of untrustworthiness about him. Will make England an even less attractive team to watch than they are now. Ego not matched by achievements.
Stuart Pearce/Paul Jewell/Steve Bruce/Alan Curbishley, etc: Pros – Know all of the words to “God Save The Queen”, will bang on about “passion” and “heart” a lot. Cons – None of them should be allowed within twenty miles of Wembley Stadium or Soho Square.
Me: Pros – Exceptionally cheap. May introduce a lottery for one central midfield position per match, with the money raised going to grass-roots training. Will change the national anthem from “God Save The Queen” to “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”. May make John Terry play in a nappy. Cons – Sunday League background, so may offer team places to the first eleven players to turn up. Somewhat forgetful, so may turn up five minutes before kick-off.
So, there we go. If my application isn’t successful, I’d go for Lippi, personally, with O’Neill as cover. I wouldn’t be ruling out my own application yet, though. After all, these are the people that hired Steve McClaren.