After Fabio Capello’s shock resignation earlier this week the FA now have a massive decision to make with a major championship coming up in just four months time. According to the bookmakers there is only one possible candidate but who are the probable contenders?
The first contender is the bookmakers clear favourite, the media’s choice and the majority of the people’s choice and that is of course Harry Redknapp. Ever since the disaster of the 2010 world cup then Redknapp has been the obvious choice for the fantastic job he has done at Spurs. He seemingly has the ability to motivate and manage all sorts of players from the young English like Kyle Walker and Tom Huddlestone to the more experienced players such as Rafael Van Der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor. With the current transitional phase this England squad is in with a number of young players coming through he could be the perfect candidate having overseen the development of the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick at West Ham. The only negative with Harry Redknapp is the argument that he has never really won many trophies. This can be tempered by the fact that he has never been at clubs that have had the resources to be able to challenge for major trophies until now and he has built a team at Spurs that are very much still in the title race.
With Alan Pardew ruling himself out of the running the only other English candidate seems to be Roy Hodgson. He has vast experience managing 14 clubs in a number of countries and 3 teams internationally. Hodgson is also used to the pressure of such a big job having managed Inter Milan twice and having a short if ultimately unsuccessful spell at Liverpool. Similarly to Redknapp though Hodgson does not have a proven record of winning trophies with only league wins in Sweden and Denmark and also a few cup wins in those countries to his name.
Two foreign coaches have already expressed an interest in the job. The first being Guus Hiddink. Hiddink is without doubt the outstanding foreign candidate having managed a number of clubs in different countries and 5 teams at international level. He turned PSV Eindhoven into a major force in Dutch football and had an outstanding short spell in charge of Chelsea, losing just one of his twenty-one games in charge. He has also had success at major international tournaments when you consider the teams that he has managed. He guided the Dutch to a fourth place finish at the 1998 World cup, Australia to the second round in 2006 and most recently Russia to the euro 2008 semi-finals. His greatest achievement though was taking South Korea to a world cup semi-final in 2002 where they narrowly lost 1-0 to Germany. The only thing that may stop Hiddink getting the job is the FA seemingly wanting to give the job to an Englishman.
The other foreign manager to express an interst is Rafael Benitez. Appointing Benitez may seem bizzare to some considering his final poor season at Liverpool but it should not be forgotten what he achieved at Anfield and at Valencia. In Spain he broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid dominance by winning La Liga twice and also adding the Uefa cup in one of those seasons as well. At Liverpool he managed to take them to two champions league finals memorably winning one and got them to push Manchester United all the way in the 2008-2009 season finishing runner-up and losing just two league games all season. The problem with Benitez may be his outspoken personality. He has fallen out with owners at Valencia, Liverpool and Inter Milan and the FA will want someone who will respect their wishes on the John Terry issue at the moment.
There is not many other obvious candidates. Stuart Pearce will have the caretaker role for the Holland match later this month but probably does not have enough experience to take the role full time. Martin o’ Neill’s stock continues to rise after a fantastic start at Sunderland and he certainly has the motivational skills and the passion for the job. He is however very particular about jobs that he takes and it is unclear whether he will want to leave his boyhood club so soon. The serious outside contender may well be Jose Mourinho. His relationship with the Real Madrid board and fans seems to be at breaking point and he has openly made his love for English football clear. If he were to complete a likely La Liga title win then will he see international football as his next big challenge to conquer.
Those are the contenders and by this time next week we should have a clearer idea if the FA are going to go with popular opinion or if they will have a different idea altogether.
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