Friday, 10 February 2012

English team, English manager

How many international football teams have won either the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championships with a foreign manager in charge? The answer is just 1; the underwhelming Greece side who defended and counter-attacked their way to the Euro 2004 crown with German coach Otto Rehhagel at the helm. Coincidence? I think not.

Football may have become an intercultural breeding ground over the last 20 years, however, the above fact speaks for itself as the Football Association go in search of Fabio Capello’s successor as England manager.
England manager elect: Harry Redknapp is currently the frontrunner
Admittedly, the Italian and fellow foreign import Sven-Göran Eriksson both comfortably eclipsed the calamitous performance of our most recent home-grown boss Steve McClaren, but now it's time to put a proven English manager in charge.

The powers that be may be hoping to prise away a seemingly unsettled Jose Mourinho from Spanish giants Real Madrid or make a move for the heavily experienced Dutchman Guus Hiddink, both of whom could potentially take England to the next level.

Harry Redknapp, the bookies' favourite for the job, doesn’t possess the same CV as the aforementioned pair but what he does have is an unrivalled passion to ensure England live upto their full potential.

Fans want to see a manager who kicks and heads every ball on the touchline. Fans want to see a manager who punches his fists in the air every time the opposition’s net ripples. Fans want to see a manager who is one of their own. Redknapp fits the bill.

England’s main rivals for Euro 2012 - France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal and Spain – all have managers from their respective countries - Laurent Blanc, Joachim Löw, Bert van Marwijk, Cesare Prandelli, Paulo Bento and Vicente del Bosque.

In fact, there are only three teams involved in the last 16 of the competition who have a foreign manager; Greece (Fernando Santos from Portugal), Republic of Ireland (Giovanni Trapattoni from Italy) and Russia (Dick Advocaat from Holland).

On paper, you would have to believe that the near-unbreakable trend of teams winning the championships with a home-grown manager will be adhered to. England ought to take note.

The more pressing dilemma for the FA should be whether they will make a permanent appointment before the tournament kicks off on 8 June.

Installing a full-time manager between the friendlies with Holland on 29 February and Norway on 26 May would certainly stabilize the camp, but the FA cannot afford to rush their decision purely for that reason.

If they choose to put a caretaker manager in charge for the tournament, England’s performance will ultimately determine whether he gets the job full-time.

Failure would almost certainly mean the end of a short journey for whoever it may be, but at least we would be in a position to wipe the slate clean and make the correct appointment ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

There’s no doubting that the timing of Capello’s resignation couldn’t have been much worse for the national team but it’s now up to the FA to help restore some good old-fashioned English pride.

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