No More English Managers, Please.

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Daniel considers what could have been had the FA gone with someone other than Steve “The Narcissist” McClaren.

The Premiership is on hiatus which can only mean that we’re back to England in poor form and two away trips coming up. In fact, it’s quite possible that former Manchester United assistant Steve McClaren could be out of a job in days (every cloud has a silver lining). But if the ex-Middlesbrough boss and his coma-inducing post-match interviews are soon consigned to history, who will take over from the ruddy-faced Sandman?

Never fear, a shortlist was drawn up less than a year ago, so let’s just review those candidates and how they’ve fared since – if you have your own suggestions, pop them in the comments:

Stuart Pearce

Alan Curbishley

Martin O’ Neill

Sam Allardyce

Phil Scolari

Clearly, what England needs is a manager who has the experience of managing players at the top level.

Unfortunately the only Englishmen who fit that bill are from a past generation, many of them having managed England in the past, and have since quietly faded away or made quite a spectacle of themselves. Bobby Robson admits to loving the chance to manage England again, but age and ill health make him unsuitable. Kevin Keegan was big enough to admit that he didn’t have what it takes to be England manager. Graham Taylor didn’t admit this, but the same applies to him. Terry Venables admitted (or no contested) 19 allegations of improper business conduct made against him by the Department of Trade and Industry, but denies any wrongdoing at Portsmouth (where he bought a 51% controlling interest in the club for £1 before leaving after less than a year with Portsmouth at the bottom of the First Division and his company Vencorp having received a £300,000 ‘performance’ bonus). Glen Hoddle admitted to some disturbing views on disabled people to a national newspaper (allegedly), then denied them. And Ron Atkinson admits to going to tanning sessions with David Dickinson and sharing an enjoyment of tiddlywinks with him (it’s true). He denies being a racist, but not surprisingly the Trinidad & Tobago players vetoed him becoming their manager. He now learns French with Esther Rantzen and undermines previously successful lower league managers in the name of entertainment.

All of which means that if a new England manager is needed in the foreseeable future he should not be English. Looking at the people who could be available and do a decent job, O’ Neill is still a strong candidate. Expect to see him clear out several players at Villa this summer and form a much improved team next season. The World Cup winning coach, Marcello Lippi, has said he want to return to management in the 2007/2008 season and is superb at getting star individuals to play as a team. And then there is Fabio Capello, who is expected to be looking for work soon and has expressed interest in the England job. Now slating other managers for their team’s performances and praising Capello might seem unfair, but Real Madrid’s season is a rare blip (and hardly disastrous being just five points off the top). Capello can claim to be the most successful manager in football having won trophies with AC Milan, Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid. What’s more, he is someone who is prepared to change his formation to suit the players available and is not afraid to leave out big name players.

Steve McClaren’s reign will continue to be a mixed blessing. We want him to win the next two matches to qualify England, but then that would mean we’re stuck with him. Nothing better than a lose-lose situation to make supporting your country extra fun.