Fabio Capello has walked out on England at a crucial time and his replacement needs to be found sooner rather than later. The squad is full of players making the transition from either established internationals to weary veterans, or young prospects to also-rans. There is a cloud surrounding the players following John Terry, stripped of the captaincy, and his delayed trial, one that could bring about more unsavoury headlines. Then, of course, there’s the expectation that comes with every major football tournament, the media that over-inflate egos and build up our chances, only to mock everyone for being so stupid when the inevitable failure dawns.
Yes, the FA need to appoint someone sooner rather than later but who and what would that mean for the future of England and their Euro 2012.
Let’s Go Psycho
Stuart Pearce may be seen as many as something of a “failed” manager. A brief stint as a caretaker at his beloved Nottingham Forest saw a spell at Manchester City that was more about flirting with relegation than it was about restoring glory to a fallen giant. At the time he was touted as a successor to Sven but those voices quickly gave way as it became clear he wasn’t quite up to the rigours of club management.
Since then he has been lurking in the relative obscurity of managing England’s Under 21s for four years. There he managed to create a team that could emulate something he was all too familiar with – getting knocked out by a penalty shootout in the semi-finals of 2007’s UEFA U21 tournament, then getting mauled by ze Germans in the final in 2009.
Under Capello he was promoted to being a first team coach within the England set-up and it’s easy to understand why. A model professional as a player, as committed a competitor who ever played the game – anyone remember the sight of him trying to run off a broken leg when he was playing for West Ham – and an easy going personality, it could well be that England might look to him to steady the ship before getting a big name in.
He already looked set to have a taste of the big time with his public appointment as the coach of the British Olympic football team but events might just have conspired to give him a shot at the big time. Would it be so bad? Under Pearce you could probably expect to see some surprise inclusions form the U21 set-up, some big names left out based on questionable work ethic, and a team that bows out in the quarter-finals after some blood and thunder matches seasoned with a lack of tactical acumen. Wasn’t that what most were expecting anyway?
Under Pearce you could probably expect to see some surprise inclusions form the U21 set-up, some big names left out based on questionable work ethic, and a team that bows out in the quarter-finals after some blood and thunder matches...
Middle Management Comes Good
If you’d have linked Alan Pardew with the England job at any other time you’d be sectioned on the spot. However, he has managed to claw himself into contention, and indeed be taken seriously as a manager in general once more, thanks to his sterling performance as Newcastle manager.
Not only has he showed he can handle the demands that the creaky old dinosaurs at the FA will put upon any manager – he deals with the fat, greedy and moronic Mike Ashley on a daily basis – he has also worked wonders with a squad that looks decidedly underwhelming on paper. Yes, anyone who can guide THAT Newcastle squad to fifth in the table probably could take the shambles that is an England squad to a major tournament and get them to punch above their weight.
It’s not so far fetched too… As beloved as he might be on Tyneside, Pardew would know this opportunity, even on a short term basis, would likely never come around again and he’d have to take it. Even the worst managers can dine out on a stint with England for decades and Pardew, all whispering voice and office middle management charm, knows that it would likely be a high point barring more miracles at St. James Park.
If appointed expect to smash the group stages with a rejuvenated squad, Wayne Rooney suddenly playing like Lionel Messi, only to collapse defensively at the first hurdle following his insistence to stick with surprise call-up Mike Williamson. All smiles as the boys go home early, he’ll suggest he can build something if given more time, only to be replaced with a high profile foreigner after ruining it for England managers for another ten years.
As beloved as he might be on Tyneside, Pardew would know this opportunity, even on a short term basis, would likely never come around again and he’d have to take it.
England Get Special
Jose Mourinho has said he wants to manage Manchester United and carry on their legacy after Ferguson leaves. Slight problem… Ferguson has had his DNA spliced with Mumm-Ra’s from the Thundercats and will never be leaving United. The special one is clearly bored of club management abroad, finding it a bit of a doddle, and feels that conspiratorial forces in favour of Barcelona will prevent him from winning another Champions League anytime soon… Perhaps it could be time to turn his attentions to a national team. Who better than the country whose football he admires the most and a set of fans that always embraced him better than any others?
Even if it was just an appointment until Ferguson finally figures out that he’s not going to be able to manage Man United forever, it would likely be a successful one. He understands players such as Lampard and Gerrard who have never been able to play in the same team together for reasons beyond most footballing brains, given how good they have been for their respective clubs. He enjoys good relationships with almost every player he has worked with in England and if there’s one thing he does better than anyone else, it’s turn negativity from outside forces into a galvanising factor within his group of players. Given the amount of potshots taken at England, be it the press, the courts, dodgy decisions from officials… He’ll know how to turn it to his advantage.
If appointed expect England to make the final with a series of tactically astute but unspectacular performances, before losing to Spain and a team full of Barcelona players, prompting Mourinho to go stark raving bonkers and start talking up a future with Manchester United once more.
Our Friends In The Media
After proving that a journeyman manager of limited ability can be elevated to almost any position as long as he has friends in the press, Roy Hodgson will alarmingly be in the frame. Yes, years of being polite, always giving interviews, doling out scoops to the right people, got him talked into the Liverpool job with disastrous consequences = Paul Konchesky at Anfield for example. Even though he was subsequently trumped by a manager who had spent more time on the golf course than he had following football, expect some sections of the media to make a go at securing him the big prize – England.
They’ll talk up his credentials of having managed teams abroad. They’ll point to his spell with Blackburn, a high point after their title winning decline. They’ll say he’s ambassador for the game. And, with everything else going on in the England camp right now, there’s people out there that would listen.
If given a shot at the big time it would be a catastrophe as workmen like players, completely devoid of flair, are forced to play some atrocious zonal marking system. A total lack of invention going forward will also see the twin strike force of Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson fail to convert the two or three chances they get per match, leaving England going out in the groups. Unperturbed, Hodgson vows to continue and says he will look to revamps his squad ahead of friendlies, paving the way for a series of one-cap wonders that would eclipse some of the dirge picked up by Graham Taylor.
After proving that a journeyman manager of limited ability can be elevated to almost any position as long as he has friends in the press, Roy Hodgson will alarmingly be in the frame.
A Finger In The Dyke
There’s few managers with extensive experience of managing international clubs but Dutch master Guus Hiddink is one of them. Having already managed Holland, Australia, Russia and Turkey to varying degrees of success, he treats international management like a spy – unwavering loyalty to the person signing the cheques.
The FA will be loathe to appoint someone long term given that tactical cabbage and people’s choice Harry Redknapp has beaten the frivolous case brought to court against him but can’t walk away from a Tottenham side that is still in with a shout of a title. Given all these factors turning to the former Chelsea man could be the best option, especially when you consider he still enjoys strong ties with the English players he worked with at the Blues.
A manager who can get the best out of unspectacular players, he could be tailor made for England, especially on a short term basis with players desperate to break free from the more oppressive Italian shackles of the Capello style of football.
If given the job England would like blow hot and cold in the groups, step it up in the knockout stages with a big scalp via a penalty shootout for a change, then crashing out in the semis amid talk of a “renewed belief” within the set-up. A delegation of players will go to the press and say how much they hope he will stay but like a superhero he will go where he is needed, saving those weakling football nations from crushing mediocrity, and will announce that he has agreed a job with Zambia.
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