Last night (Wednesday) saw the resignation of England manager Fabio Capello, the straight-talking Italian was brought in four years ago by the FA as a big-money solution to England’s managerial crisis following yet another disappointing performance by an Englishmen. Capello overlooked England’s best qualification campaign for a World Cup in its history and ended it as top scorers for the euro zone, however issues over his management of the squad and as well as certain players, along with the captaincy fiasco Capello seemed to cause himself unnecessary headaches, this somewhat waned the initial excitement for the foreign experiment.
Sure enough England were dumped out of the 2010 World Cup in terrific fashion after clawing through the group stages and being ousted by the fiercest of rivals, Germany. Last night this saga came to an end, as what appeared to be normal talks between the FA and the national coach became the meeting in which Capello handed in his letter of resignation, rumour has it the ex-Juventus man was not overly impressed at the FA going over his head to strip Terry of his captaincy following the stalwart acting in not an un-captainly manner for the second time in as many years. With the Euro 2012 competition just five months away there is not a lot of time for a manager to come in, name a squad and get them to come around to their playing style, but who will fill this void and drink from the poisoned chalice that is the England job?
The pundits favourite, and for good reason. Indeed Harry Redknapp is the ideal man for the England post, brilliantly British, cockney till he dies and a man with the tactical knowledge to steer a Tottenham side to dizzy heights, competing with teams they just have no right to given the context of budgets and talent of teams. He has Champions League experience, has worked with many English players in his time, and has welcomed some of them into his Tottenham side. Redknapp seems to have a way to get the best out of players, and crucially will not be afraid to experiment, which, in my opinion, has been the main demise of previous England coaches. The only issue with Harry is he’s a very loyal man, and with his Tottenham side sitting third in the league, with the scent of a Premier League upset like no other wetting the lips of his players and fans will Redknapp leave the London club that adores him so admirably? Time will tell, but I would suggest that it’s almost a sure bet that the FA will approach Mr. Redknapp, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did it sooner rather than later.
There is a strong bookie backing for current West Brom manager Roy Hodgson to take charge of the national side. A man that is incredibly good at making teams average the FA would be sticking to it’s recent employment history by going with Roy Hodgson. Hodgson had his time to shine at a bigger club when he took the reigns of Liverpool at the beginning of last season, it soon became apparent that he just wasn’t ready to produce the results necessary to challenge for more than a top half finish. Albeit an English man is probably what the national side needs, and Mr. Hodgson does have experience in a foreign competition, managing his Fulham side to a Euro Cup final (a feat that probably earned him the Liverpool job.) Despite this after his performance at Liverpool I can’t see Hodgson handling the pressure of a country’s hopes and dreams, and ultimately I can see any reign of Hodgson’s ending in Tayloresque ridicule.
Recent years have been hard for old Mr. Pardew thanks to difficult spells at Charlton and Southampton, that’s why there were many sceptical Newcastle fans scratching their heads when his appointment was announced two years back. He’s come back to the Prem in style however, and has proved himself to be amongst one of the best of British managers as he’s overseen a complete overhaul of a Newcastle side which has re-established itself as a Prem big boy this campaign, finding themselves just one point off that highly contested fourth spot. He has experience, has managed at many different levels of English football and knows the game well, the FA could do a lot worse than to give Pardew the nod.
Stuart Pearce, recently named manager for the British football team being entered into the olympics eats, sleeps and breaths English football. The once branded psycho of football was in management before he’d hung up his playing boots, taking the caretaker role at Nottingham Forest back in ’96. Since then he’s been assistant manager at Manchester City, under-21 head coach for England and is now the manager of the 2012 Olympic team. The ex defender has good credentials for taking up the England post, and would not be afraid to give the nod to youngsters after working with them for so many years. He knows the set up of the national team thanks to his time as Capello’s right-hand man and would be able to slip into the role with ease when compared to those who may have to come from managing a club to head up the national side. His weakness lies in the recent disappointing performance of his U21 side at the youth Euro Championship, where a side with bundles of talent failed to get past the group stage, despite this Pearce did steer a team into into the Semi-Finals and the Final of the competition in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
A world class manager and considered one of the best British managers in the game since his almost flawless reign of Celtic, in which he took a side that was finishing a good 20 points behind its old firm rivals and claimed seven trophies in five years. O’Neill also set a British record of 25 consecutive wins while at the Scottish club. In his posts within the Premiership O’Neill has done incredibly well, making an Aston Villa side compete for then Uefa Cup places that the midlands club has failed to emulate since the Irishman’s departure. More recently Mr. O’Neill has been waving his magic wand at Sunderland, and has completely turned their fortunes around, winning seven matches since early December, most notably of which was against then run away leaders, Manchester City. It is the fact that he has only recently signed a contract at the Black Cats which means his hat may have to be pulled from the ring, although a temporary deal to guide the national side through the Euro’s until a more permanent replacement may be found could be an option to please not only Mr. O’Neill but current employers Sunderland as well.
A man, a legend. The ‘Special One’ is indeed a man of great reputation, with heaps of international experience, a love for the English game and an eye for a job back in the Premiership it would not be a major shock to see the ex-Chelsea manager named the new head coach of our national side. With an infamous and unrivalled way to handle the media, Mr. Mourinho may be perfect for the role as he never lets pressure get to him, and being England manager the English tabloids always ensure there is pressure on you. He has an attractive style of football, experience not only in the way our nations football is played, but also of those we need to topple if we are to win any silverware soon, Spain. The only question here is, will the FA, and the fans trust another foreign manager after the disappointing World Cup campaign and poor handling of the squad seen by Capello?
Somewhat of a strange candidate in my eyes, however he’s not an impossibility according to the odds. The Frenchmen has been in the English game for absolute donkeys years, enjoying great success at Arsenal. He’s been at Arsenal to witness Richard Keys’ hair go from a youthful dark brown when Sky first began its mass coverage of the Premier League to thin and greying as he walked the halls of Sky for the last time, a feat shared with only one man, Alex Ferguson. Wenger’s tasted the sweet victory of success on many occasions, and remains the only man to manage a team to an unbeaten season in the Premiership. Recent times have been tough however, and a run without trophies has stretched for six years now, it is for this reason there is doubt hanging over his future at Arsenal, and this is probably the main reason he’s being backed by some pundits. His failings to claim a trophy, or greatly impress (barring the run to the final in 2006 that is) in European competitions leaves doubt in my mind over Wenger’s ability to manage a national side. He’s no stranger to a chorus of boos after the whistle goes however, which might just make him the perfect candidate.
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