My thoughts on: The Next England Manager

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

England face a trip to Montenegro on Friday 7th October as Fabio Capello aims to secure qualification to next summer’s European Championship Finals in Poland and Ukraine. A draw will suffice but England, as always, will be expected to win and to mount a serious challenge for winning the tournament with the memory of the team’s failings in South Africa still fresh in the mind.

For many, and I include me in that, thought that there should have been a change in leadership after the defeat to Germany; but there wasn’t, and now England sit on the verge of qualification for the 2012 tournament with Capello still at the helm, albeit ready to step down post-tournament (or sooner I guess dependant on the results next week?).

The big question then is who should take the reins and move England forward? To be fair, to call the Italian’s time in the job as a failure may be a bit harsh. We are slowly seeing a change in personnel and the removal of the reliance on a number of players in preference of youth; he has overseen comfortable qualification campaigns and who knows; he may have learned from the mistakes made in 2010 and England may have a good tournament next year (what would happen if we went on to win it I wonder?). The fact remains though that, in my opinion, England need a fresh start inspired by a new regime.

The next England manager?

The leading contender amongst the media and many supporters is Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Redknapp. Although Redknapp is tagged by some as a ‘wheeler dealer’ manager, borne out of his stewardship at clubs such as AFC Bournemouth, Portsmouth, West Ham Utd and Southampton; Redknapp has dealt with many high-profile players, so I fail to see how this attempted blot on his CV stands up. Some might say he hasn’t been that successful, which again I would argue against, citing his time at West Ham Utd with finishes of 5th and 8th and the overseeing of many academy products making the journey into first team regulars (and ultimately internationals).

His two stints in charge of Portsmouth brought about great success for a provincial club; winning the second tier at a relative canter, keeping them in the top-flight and winning the FA Cup and was ultimately more successful than his brief spell in charge of their near-neighbours Southampton.

Now in charge of Tottenham Hotspur; Redknapp has led the club forward to a point where they are now seriously considered as a real and consistent threat to the monopoly of the top-four slots in the Premier League, and indeed, oversaw qualification to the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

I hear suggestions that this relative success was only possible due to the financial clout he received at Portsmouth and what he currently gets at White Hart Lane; however, I would argue that this is really not that relevant as being England manager dictates that you have a pool of every English player to select from and the role relies more on coaching ability, tactical nous and man management skills rather than how successful or dependant you have been in the transfer market to acquire success.

The FA I believe have openly suggested that the next manager of the national team will be an Englishman and although it is a sentiment that I would rather, I think it is something of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the media/public frustration connected to Sven-Goran Eriksson and the current incumbant. By choosing an Englishman does not necessarily guarantee you greater success as the opposite doesn’t as recent appointments have shown. My main issue with Fabio Capello is that I feel he doesn’t have the grasp of the language to communicate effectively nor did he have a great understanding of the English game when he came into the role… I may even question if he fully understands it now.

I would not be adverse to another non-English appointment, but I would stress that it would have to be given to a character who has experience of the English league and is able to communicate clearly and concisely in English. I would have no problems with names such as Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho or O’Neill being linked to the job; all of which have been successful in England (albeit to differing levels and consistency) and all of which would command the respect of the squad. The same old arguments undoubtedly will be discussed referencing how successful (or lack of it) English managers actually are; but the problem with that is that if you measure success purely by winning the Premier League, until one of those clubs who monopolise that title give an Englishman the job, then it is unlikely we will see it for a few years yet.

Another common suggestion is that in order to be successful England need to appoint someone with proven international management experience. Research shows that this is completely inaccurate as since 1994, only Berti Vogts (one year with Kuwait) and Roger Lemerre (coached under Aime Jacquet’s reign) had previous experience at that level and therefore I think blows that thought process out of the water

The Special One?

For me, the next England manager needs to be an experienced coach, someone who has shown to be tactically aware and successful, someone who can communicate coherently with players and supporters, someone who can manage the players as individuals, including those players who aren’t necessarily in the squad, and someone who commands respect. For me, my choice would be one of the above; Redknapp, Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho or O’Neill; I wonder whether the FA dare select any of these characters or opt for the ‘safer option’ of Stuart Pearce?

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  1. September 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    This whole idea of having an Englishman is common in England, as is common to blame the foreigners for everything, it was like that after the World Cup, too many foreign players in the league no good young talent etc. Now I know I’m biased being foreign myself, and I think this idea of blaming the foreigners it’s an easy one and more of a cop out. To be fair I would probably agree that national team players and managers should be local nationals but modern football is not like that, and I have no problem with getting the best man for the job.

    Which leads me to who I think SHOULD be the next England manager but won’t. Unfortunately I think the FA is what’s standing in the way of England’s success. One has only to remember the issue with Ferdinand’s drug test years ago. The FA does not want an opinionated manager that wants control over the whole of the development of English football. If they did, Mourinho would have got the job before he went to Inter after Sven left, allegedly he produced a dossier over what he wanted and needed to take England forward, it was simply too ambitious for the FA. Similarly, a man that has great knowledge of English football and players, is a good tactician and a great motivator, Martin O’ Neill was also disregarded before the appointment of Capello, Martin simply takes no prisoners, that does not sit well with the powers installed at the FA. Both Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson would bed the next two outstanding choices but once again they would want to oversee and have much more control than the FA are prepared to concede.

    So England will not get the best manager they should get for the role. They will get someone from outside, like Capello, attracted to the money and a chance to prove themselves internationally but that are not going to be too much of a hindrance. But obviously, because the powers that be at the FA are spineless, England will get their English manager because that’s what the press and fans are calling for, regardless of their suitability for the role. Redknapp would do well to motivate and lift the spirits of the players and deal with national press, but I fear he would be found wanting against the good teams tactically. Pearce, who is being groomed right now for job is I think the most likely candidate, he’s an unknown quantity but he does have a lot of passion and has worked with good managers.

    The other English managers, or British even, I fear are not qualified, simply because in fairness to most of them, they have not the chance to prove themselves, Allardyce, Pulis, Coyle, Pardew, even Moyes, all of whom have done great jobs but never at a top team. The most qualified is of course Steve McLaren who did well with Twente, but has once again self-destructed his career with catastrophic appointments at Wolfsburg and Forest.

    England do really need a Mourinho or a Wenger, someone to think long-term, who can take risks, can handle big egos, and reform the system. But before that can happen the FA must change first.

    • September 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      I am inclined to agree with you. The FA, in my opinion, is drastically in need of change in order for our domestic game, and the fortunes of the international team to improve. I share you cynicism towards the potential appointments of Mourinho, Wenger, Ferguson and O’Neill, and would add it is a similar scenario to Brian Clough who quite clearly was the best manager around but was too outspoken for his would-be paymasters. Whilst we continue to have this dated infrastructure at the head of our game I can’t see a successful and charismatic appointment being made.

  2. September 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Exactly, this why the clubs decided to form their own league that represent their interests and got them what they deserved, and one cannot with the unprecedented success of the Premier League regardless of what one may think regarding the money in the game.

    I still think though that England do have great players and very good young players that actually even if not all play at the top four clubs they still play in the Premier League the most competitive and tough league out there, a decent enough manager can do well, but the kind of manager the FA want would never be allowed to do what Joachim Low has done with Germany and play a talented team of youngsters disregarding immediate success for building a team longer term. Also, the lack of a winter break is also something all top managers have asked for and that differentiates England from Spain and Germany, and most other leagues now which means the players are exhausted by the time the tournaments come around, which is exactly the sort of thing a headstrong national manager would push for. Reform is needed.

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