September 02, 2011

England Managers

RIFT HOUSE RADGIE contemplates old ones and possible new ones


I have to eat a bit of humble pie, as I made a prediction not long ago that Sven wouldn't still be at Leicester City come the start of this season. He's still there, but he's hardly pulling up trees is he? After five games played in the Championship, Leicester sit in tenth place with seven points. And this is after he's been given a bit of cash to splash. Pissed away more like.

I know the Championship is a very competitive league, with the standard getting better year on year, but surely someone like Sven would rise to the challenge? He truly is laughing all the way to the bank, and I think he has just about found his level now - mid-table of the second tier at a decent-sized club with a lot of resources at his disposal.

However, he is not doing as badly as another former England manager, the grinning idiot that is Steve McLaren. I've come to believe that this character is a true English eccentric, what with his strange Dutch accent, and seemingly unending belief in his own (limited) ability. At the time of writing, his Nottingham Forest side were soundly beaten 4-1 at home by West Ham. This leaves Forest with five points after five games, which is relegation form over the course of a full season."When you look back at what Clough achieved, I still can't believe he never got the England job. But when you look at the processes that led to the appointment of Steve McLaren, you can understand why."

I can imagine that proper former Forest manager looking down from the sky (where there is definitely no grass), sneering in disgust at the way McLaren is still making a living from the game at the club which he took to such great heights in the 70s and 80s. I'd like to think he was doing the same when Martin Scott blundered his way through that terrible relegation season at Pools, and I reckon he'd have respect and admiration for the way Mick Wadsworth has transformed Pools in recent times. I'm talking about Brian Clough of course, the best former Pools manager never to manage England.

When you look back at what Clough achieved, I still can't believe he never got the England job. But when you look at the processes that led to the appointment of Steve McLaren, you can understand why. It seems to me that the people responsible for appointing England managers over the years have always favoured the 'safe pair of hands' who would make steady progress, rather than give the job to someone who would give us a chance of actually winning something.

When Sven was appointed, although I was cynical and knew that it was another bad decision, I was actually quite pleased that the selectors had looked beyond national boundaries. For too long we were bogged down with a narrow view of what constituted a good England manager (eg being English for a start). I couldn't give a toss what nationality the manager is, as long as we actually look like we might win a tournament.

I think that Capello has done a fairly good job which has in the main been undone by those egos masquerading as England footballers. I can't imagine what it must be like trying to get these pampered primadonnas playing as a unit, and you can't underestimate the power of the media spotlight and the pressure it brings. I don't think his contract will be renewed, and then the selection circus will begin again.

For me, you need a Cloughie type. Someone who doesn't stand for any nonsense from any of the players or media, is focussed on the job in hand, and is actually any good at managing a team. It pains me to say it as I can't stand the bloke, but I reckon Alex Ferguson would have won a tournament had he been given the England job at any point over the last 15 years. Similarly, Scolari would have had a good go. When you look at who is available currently, who would you choose? Mourinho would be top of my list. Again I don't like the man, but you can't argue with his record and he speaks English better than most of the current squad.

Whoever gets the job needs to have something about them, the X factor or whatever you want to call it, but please, anything but the polite, safe bet, who won't get caught banging TV presenters and embarrassing the FA. If anyone needs embarrassing it's them!