As England limp out of another major tournament and Roy Hodgson falls on his sword before he is informed his contract is not renewed, attention inevitably turns to who can be next to lead England as manager.
We have been down the overpaid foreign manager route and that certainly didn’t work. Or we can bring in someone from within who has learnt the ropes under the current management set-up. Gareth Southgate is the early favourite after an uninspiring track record in club management clubs and his country at under 21 level. The thinking seems to be that Southgate has been groomed for the role and is the natural progression.
Wasn’t this the same way Steve McClaren was appointed after Sven? Well that hardly turned out as a success. Or alternatively Gary Neville is being considered despite his bizarre appointment and subsequent performance as manager of Valencia, again the thinking is that he has learnt the ropes under Roy’s set-up so is now ready to take over.
Then there are the other names being mentioned which must surely set alarm bells ringing all over the north east of England, when we hear Alan Pardew or Steve Bruce and England manager mentioned in the same sentence.
Not so long ago it was Garry Monk’s name being put forward as a possible future England manager by those with knowledge and information on the Sunday Supplement, until he was sacked as manager of Swansea. Now it is Eddie Howe’s turn and as much as I rate him and his performance with Bournemouth last season, is it really the time to be sending the call for him to manage England.
After those names, there doesn’t seem to be too much left to choose from. You could look at Harry Redknapp and make a very valid case and I am sure he thought his chance to be England manager had passed and would jump at the opportunity. Often the role of a national manager suits an older more experienced figure that is liked and respected by the players, fun to be around in the way Terry Venables was as England manager during Euro 96. I am not sure the suits at the FA would go for Harry though, despite him having the most suitable CV and experience for the job.
With the national team in such disarray is it now time to do something completely different to what has gone on before?
Appoint a man who has little or no managerial experience whatsoever but is a proven leader at both club and international level.
Is it time to appoint a leader of men who can go into the dressing room and inspire and motivate a bunch of overpaid so-called superstars who have no team ethic or spirit for the fight.
Let’s be honest, the players shouldn’t require an awful lot of coaching at this level, they should receive that at their clubs if they aren’t at the required level already. Much is spoken about formations and systems but surely a top national team should be able to move fluidly from various formations using wing backs, holding midfield players, number 10s, wingers and two up top.
Much of the decision-making on formations and systems must surely be decided by the opposition and the current stage of the tournament or qualification at international level. Roy Hodgson had two years of playing against weak opposition in qualifying and still had no idea of what his best formation was and who his best eleven were.
International football changes so quickly that managers need to be able to adapt and change their thinking and their strategy quickly. It is not always suited to a manager who has meticulous preparation and proven methods in the past such as Fabio Capello. Players emerge and lose form, or get injured, at such an alarming rate that managers need to be able to adapt quickly.
Hodgson’s thinking was muddled by the emergence of Dele Ali, after he impressed for Spurs and then England in friendly matches, the general public were claiming he simply had to play.
Michael Owen arrived in a similar way before the world cup in ’98 and brought positivity into an England squad that needed refreshing.
Going back two years ago who would have predicted an England team where Raheem Sterling was struggling to merit a name on the team sheet, or a squad without Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. This will always happen when preparing for tournaments as they are two years apart and managers need to be able to adapt to change.
Recent England managers have failed badly in this area in recent tournaments with the over reliance on a select few individual players who they believe they simply cannot drop or win without. This therefore results in either taking injured players to tournaments (Beckham, Rooney, Wilshere) who never gain the required fitness – or alternatively, persisting and showing loyalty to proven past performers, when it is obvious that the team dynamic has changed and there is no longer a role for them in the starting eleven (Sheringham, Rooney etc).
This past week Alan Shearer put his name forward for the England job, saying he was rejected five years ago when approaching the FA.
“They looked at me and said ‘No, it’s a lack of experience,’ I said, ‘You’ve hired experienced guys, you’ve paid them an absolute fortune, I could not have done any worse than them’.”
He is right on one thing, he couldn’t have done any worse, maybe it is time to take a completely new direction on appointing an England manager.
As a Newcastle fan I have a great respect and biased loyalty to the man, so I am putting Alan Shearer’s name forward. However, I am sure there are other players who have led England as a player and currently have little or no managerial experience, such as John Terry or Rio Ferdinand, who would/could also say ‘well why not me’?
It is getting to the point where many England fans would prefer to have a complete unknown rather than somebody who has all the experience and qualifications, yet simply doesn’t produce the goods at international level.
That and the fact that the other options being mentioned by the bookmakers are simply petrifying!