Although the FA board refused to comment on potential candidates last Wednesday, Brian Barwick, who will be responsible for bringing potential candidates in front of the FA board, said:
“I don’t think nationality will be an issue.”
Maybe not to them, but it still is to a lot of English people. Despite being relatively successful as the national team manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson will be remembered as being dispassionate, the lacklustre performances in successive World Cups and the bizarre selection of Theo Walcott in 2006. Never mind the 5-1 win over Germany or the three successive quarter-final placings, the simple fact is that many England fans were not happy to see a foreigner appointed in 2001, nor will they be in 2007/8.
This is not neccesarily due to England being a xenophobic nation (although such sentiments do exist) but more to do with pride and principle. Why should a foreign coach be appointed? Doesn’t that defeat the object of having a national team in the first place? If it’s acknowleged that a coach / manager is crucial to the success / failure of a football team, then why should they be any different to the players in terms of nationality. Generally only the smaller nations who do not have coaches of sufficient experience look to foreigners to take over.
You might argue that there’s a paucity of English managers from which to choose. So what? Take a look at the team that beat England on Wednesday and you’ll see a young Croatian manager with very little management experience. Slaven Bilic’s only previous management experience consists of managing Croatia Under-21’s. Proof if any were needed that there are English coaches that can successfuly do this job, providing they can discipline and motivate a bunch of talented players to give it their all.