He's the front-runner, and he's got certain characteristics which make him a perfect fit for the hardest job in football, but has Honest 'Arry really got what it takes to lead England to glory? Or should he be staying put at Tottenham Hotspur?
Fabio Capello's sudden resignation as England manager has shown what our nation is best at when it comes to football: turmoil and skittish speculation. Harry Redknapp is already being spoken of as a virtual certainty to get the job following his convenient acquittal earlier the same day on charges of tax evasion. Flaming hot favourites and "The People's Choice" don't always get the job however, as a cursory glance at the career of Brian Clough should remind us. In this case, maybe the FA would be right to look elsewhere.
At first sight, Redknapp has a lot going for him. If the reigns of Sven Goran Eriksson and Capello have told us anything, it's that the glamour of a top foreign manager with an impeccable reputation in club football doesn't necessarily translate into success in the international arena, though both had qualification records that Graham Taylor would have killed Ronald Koeman for. The time is ripe for another Englishman to take over. Redknapp's excellent relationship with the press would surely give him a vital honeymoon period free from criticism which would coincide with this summer's Euro2012 tournament. His Tottenham side are successful playing a breathtakingly stylish game, all possession, movement and slick passing, ideal for an international side. Even Redknapp's worst enemy would concede that he has an eye for a good player.
The trouble is that he also has an eye for a bad player, and goes through both at an impressive rate. The average transfer window at Tottenham must be like Andy's yard sale in Toy Story 2, last summer's hot properties huddling around worrying about who'll be next to be tossed away to whoever will take them. At Tottenham he's had the luxury of a lot of money at his disposal to buy a lot of players and a lot of time to slowly work out which make up his best team. An international manager doesn't have the time or games to do that, and the games are against teams whose squads are just as talented as his, something which rarely happens in the Premier League. Assembling an expensive club side well isn't a skill which has much use at international level. We all know which players would be at his disposal, and the trick is making the best of them.
The average transfer window at Tottenham must be like Andy's yard sale in Toy Story 2, last summer's hot properties huddling around worrying about who'll be next to be tossed away to whoever will take them.
Redknapp isn't a coach, and to be fair to him, he'd see the players so infrequently that it doesn't matter. However, neither is he known as a tactician, and England have been down the dead-end of appointing inspirational man-managers and glossing over their tactical inadequacies before. The now-discredited "Golden Generation" were squandered when Glenn Hoddle's tactical nous was replaced by Keegan then Eriksson, both men whose Plan A wasn't that highly-regarded, never mind their Plan B. In the later stages of international tournaments, when evenly-matched highly-able teams struggle to gain an advantage, it's vital that the man in charge is capable of analysing the game and making the necessary tweaks in personnel and tactics which could be just enough to tip the balance in our favour. In successive tournaments England have failed to do that and Redknapp isn't obviously someone who'd be able to change that run.
That's not to say that he couldn't be a success. So much of international football is out of the hands of the manager that he could be the one to overachieve. Bobby Robson's legacy was transformed after all by a fortnight in 1990, when a favourable draw and a couple of winners against the run of play made the difference between an average tournament and the unfortunate semi-final defeat he eventually ended with. Are there better candidates around anyway? English ones, no. But with Jose Mourinho available in the summer, a man possessing an affinity with the English game and a track record of pulling off unlikely victories against supposedly superior opposition, surely there can be no question as to who would be the better appointment should Mourinho be interested.
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