Monday, 20 February 2012

One Major Honour to Manage England

So Harry Redknapp is the favourite to become the next England manager.

Ask most people their opinion and he is the first name that springs to mind.

But spend a little longer than just your gut reaction and you really start to question why.

Harry is doing a great job at Tottenham at the moment.

A really great job.

Perhaps though, the successful candidate should have done a bit more than just have a couple of good seasons of late.

After all, he took an underachieving Tottenham side into the Champions League during a period when Liverpool, Arsenal and now Chelsea all hurtled towards a rapid decline.

He’s not won anything with Tottenham.

In fact, his only major honour was an FA cup win with Portsmouth.

Splitting 2 spells at Portsmouth, was a brief and unsuccessful period at Southampton.

Preceded by 8 years doing a steady job with West Ham and his first role at Bournemouth.

Harry may be top of mind for most due to how well Tottenham have done this season and last.

But is the best man for the England job really a manager who has only 1 major honour to his name after 28 years in the role?

Not to mention he’s only ever had one season of Champions League football.

His experience of the English league will be great for knowing what assets he has available to him.

His one season mixing it with Europe’s elite won’t have given him much experience on the opposition.

As for Harry being the outstanding ‘English’ candidate - that just highlights the lack of top English managers at the moment.

Nothing more.

An Englishman will not do a better job than a ‘foreigner’ if he is not a better manager.

And with Euro 2012 fast approaching - decisiveness seems paramount.

But the English FA should not confuse decisiveness with haste.

A caretaker role now instead - can mean the decision on the long term future of the England national team be made in due course.

He will not have enough time anyway to shape the team his way.

It will be a case of steadying the ship in Poland and Ukraine as opposed to setting it a new course.

When the Republic of Ireland interviewed for the current position - Paul Jewell was the outstanding choice.

The FAI took their time over the decision and Giovanni Trapattoni appeared.

The landscape could shift dramatically come this summer too.

Jose Mourinho could become available.

Harry’s 1 major honour might need to total 3 if he’s to beat the Portuguese master tactician to the job.

If Martin O’Neill continues his surge up the table with Sunderland and takes fourth spot, would he be considered the outstanding candidate?

He has had relative little success in the English game too but has still won more major honours than Harry.

Coupled with a more sustained period of success.

Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Steve McClaren had 1 major honour between them and all had a shot at the England hot-seat.

But it was Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello - with 32 major honours who are the only managers to have taken England to a quarter final of a major tournament since Euro ‘96.

If Fabio and his 16 major honours cannot make a success of this group of players - I’m not sure Harry and his 1 can do any different...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Becoming international manager has become a national debate

Fabio Capello is no longer in charge of the English football team.

Stepping down this week to leave the hotseat vacant for someone else to lead them out at Euro 2012.

There has been a lot of talk since, that the next English manager should be just that - English.

Some go as far as saying that the same rules should apply to international managers that do to international players.

If large countries like England, Germany or Italy were to insist on their national team manager being born in their own country, then I could understand.

They have such a large pool to choose from.

But Dutchman Gus Hiddink did more for South Korean football in his 2 years in charge then anyone in the previous 50.

Giovanni Trapattoni helped Ireland qualify for their first major tournament in 10 years.

In fact, Ireland have never qualified for a major tournament with an Irish manager.

The development of football in Africa has been helped enormously by an influx of ‘foreign’ managers over the past twenty years.

Greece won Euro 2004 under a German.

Portugal reached that same final under a Brazilian.

Russia are currently managed by a Dutchman.

How are the smaller countries supposed to develop if they are only allowed to choose from their own country.

And what happens to players who play for a country they weren’t born in?

Can Deco only manage Brazil?

Miroslav Klose manage Poland?

Patrick Vieira Senegal?

Or do the same rules apply to managers?

Rafa Benitez has never managed another country but has lived in Liverpool long enough to qualify for them.

But after managing England for two years, becomes illegible when the top job in Spain comes up.

Managers like Gus would never have been able to have managed South Korea, Australia, Russia or Turkey as he had already overseen the reigns of the Netherlands for four years.

And some people this week have even put Martin O’Neill’s name forward.

Not exactly demanding an English manager.

But rather a British one.

If the FA are willing to go as far as Northern Ireland to find their new manager, then why not go as far as France?

And then why not as far as Italy?

Surely Martin is as foreign as Arsene Wenger?

I do understand where the English are coming from when they say they’d like an Englishman in charge.

In an ideal world, they would have a strong enough candidate every time the job came up.

But should the birthplace of a manager be a factor when it comes to getting the job?

The best man for England right now might well be from Poplar.

But he might instead be from Glasgow.

Men from Middlesex, Doncaster and York have all been in the hotseat in the Premier League era, but the only man to take them to a quarter finals of a major tournament since 1996 was from Sweden.

Harry Redknapp has proved to be the kneejerk favourite for the job.

But what if someone like a Sir Alex Ferguson or a Jose Mourinho were to declare an interest in the job.

Should Harry get it because he was born in Poplar?

Well if England insist on an Englishman, he surely will.

Meaning they might well get a good man for the job - but perhaps not the best one...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Robin 'The Man' Persie?

Robin Van Persie is going through a terrific run of form right now.

It’s lasted about a year.

And he looks like he’s finally fulfilling his obvious potential.

I just wonder whether Robin would be getting as many plaudits if he were playing for a better team?

Since Arsenal have started upon their downward spiral, any competition Robin may have had up front has dissipated.

He is the main man.

Largely due to his form in front of goal.

But you cannot ignore the fact the he has no other competition for places up front.

No player that Arsene Wenger can trust anyway.

This gives Robin centre stage every game.

Marouane Chamakh, Chu-Young Park, and Gervinho have made up the rest of Arsenal’s attack all season.

They have 5 goals between them.

In the past, Robin was part of an Arsenal attack that included players such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

Arsene could afford to rely on players of the same class as Robin and the responsibilities were shared.

But right now, not only does Robin start every game, he is also their main penalty kick taker.

Their main free-kick taker.

And every attack gets played through him.

Rarely does he find himself out wide with the ball trying to create opportunities for others.

His job is to stay central and convert the opportunities created for him.

A job he is doing extremely well.

But if we are to judge Robin as one of the worlds best, and ask if he is the best, then he needs to play on a bigger stage.

It’s one thing being the main man at club who currently lye in seventh place in the Premier League as we enter the home straight.

It’s another being one of the main men at a club challenging for the league.

Wayne Rooney gets ‘dropped’ for two games against weaker opposition over Christmas and Dimitar Berbatov scores 5 goals.

Edin Dzeko scores 4 goals against Tottenham and gets ‘dropped’ for the next game.

Man City can even afford to loan Emmanuel Adebayor out to a main rival, drop Carlos Tevez indefinitely and still have three strikers in the same calibre as Robin.

If any of these players were given the same focus by their teams as Robin is, they would surely be on the same goal tally.

Didier Drogba was the main man at Chelsea yet two of the last three seasons has finished behind Nicolas Anelka in the scoring charts.

Not because Nicolas was the better player, but Didier was ‘dropped’ against the weaker teams, where goals are plentiful, and saved for the big games.

Fernando Torres looked like one of the worlds top attackers when at Liverpool.

The team was based around him.

David Ngog was his only competition for places.

Yet now at Chelsea, they have too many good attackers to play everything through the now hapless looking Spaniard.

No longer the main man.

No longer considered amongst the world’s best.

Which is exactly where Robin finds himself now.

A world class attacker.

One of the best around.

But if he is to be mentioned in the top three instead of just the top ten, he’ll need Arsene to take Arsenal back to where they were.

Or maybe look for a brighter stage...