I have been watching the attempt by the English FA to name a new manager with great interest, it’s a great way to see how not to do things! Even the way they approached Luis Felipe Scolari was a joke – they knew he couldn’t possibly accept the job before the World Cup but still offered him the job! Yes the FA is a truly wondrous organisation, capable of ineptitude beyond the wildest dreams of the likes of Mr. Bean!
With the only other truly ‘foreign’ coach in the running, Guus Hiddink also ruled out, and Arsene Wenger not interested at the moment anyway, who does that leave? Well I am giving my assessment of the possibilities:
1) Steve McLaren
OK so he’s got Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup final but he has hardly inspired confidence in me. His team play a poor brand of football, not exactly exciting, despite having money to spend. To my mind they should be at least in Tottenham’s position fighting for 4th with the money that has been spent and the facilities they have. Their training facilities are amongst the best in the world, far superior to Liverpool’s Melwood facility for instance. Yet they continue to struggle in the EPL and not just that but they laboured to reach the UEFA Cup final. It may be harsh but Steau Bucharest are hardly Juventus are they? Yet ‘Boro still had to scrape through by the skin of their teeth! So for me I would have to say no he isn’t good enough.
2) Sam Allardyce
What can you say about Big Sam? His team are capable of playing some of the best football in the top flight, but tend to rely on scrapping their way through. But, unlike McLaren, the money he has available is very low, he has had to accept he can’t get the Yakubu’s of this world and has adjusted his tactics to suit the players he has. The reason I would give him the job if it was my decision are these:
a) his players play for him, there’s never any suggestion they don’t give 100%
b) he will leave no stone unturned on the coaching side to get the best from his players – if giving them ballet lessons will improve their job then he will have them taking ballet lessons no matter who they are (I for one would pay good money to watch Wayne Rooney taking ballet lessons!).
c) he’s not a yes man in any way – he would do it his way rather than allowing the FA any input.
So yes Sam is the man as far as I am concerned – though I would of been just as happy with Hiddink, Scolari, Benitez or Wenger.
3) Martin O’Neill
The first problem, of course with O’Neill is his nationality, though I, for one, don’t care about that, many others do. The second problem is would he want the job? He has enough on his plate at the moment and might not be in a position to accept it. A truly great motivator, and that is one of the main tasks of a national coach, but, and this is a big but, his tactical ability is suspect. But still its good enough to put him in as strong a position as Sam Allardyce in my mind.
4) Stuart Pearce
He would have to be a huge gamble, not because of his lack of experience but because of the bad run his team are on. Personally I think he has to be involved in some capacity if the FA can persuade him. Though my impression of Pearce suggests he would probably pay the FA to be involved in some capacity with the Englad team! But not the man for the job, yet, for me.
5) Alan Curbishley
He performed wonders with Charlton and has to be at least considered for the position. But I believe we will see him managing Newcastle United rather than England, purely because Charlton aren’t seen as a big enough club. I am sure he believes the same and that was behind his leaving the club – he knows the club don’t match his ambitions at the moment. Without European football he won’t get the England job.
The other thing I would have to say is why doesn’t the FA get more of the top coaches involved? Its criminal to have a coach of the quality of Dario Gradi not involved with the FA to sort out their youth policy. If one man knows how to produce young players its him.
Though of course that would take a degree of competence the FA is incapable of and also the swallowing of pride and accepting that maybe someone else knows better about football!