Thursday, November 22, 2007

England - what next?

Watching last nights game almost makes me chuckle when I think back to the criticism Sven-Goran Eriksson received during his time in charge of England.

I can't profess to be an avid watcher of England matches, but ironic that the main charge levelled at Eriksson was his strict adherence to the 4-4-2 and reluctance to change approach. Watching last night made me think that at least Eriksson had a structure in place, and had an organised approach.

The England side last night might as well have turned up at 7.30pm, exchanged a few handshakes and hellos and trotted straight onto the pitch was their ineptness. All of the preparation and planning for a game, only to have a game plan which involved kicking it to Peter Crouch's head on a regular basis - with no supporting players around him. As well as Crouch might play, he seems to reduce team mates play ten fold - a sure warning for Sven not to dip into the coffers to bring him to the club in January.

The golden generation? It is beginning to look like Sven over-achieved more than anything with this crop of players. At least we will be spared the vaccuous WAG's, tournament diaries and plastic flags this summer.

It is right of course that McLaren was sacked. In truth he shouldn't have been appointed in the first place. At international level you do not need a coach as such. Given the nature of international football, you cannot coach a player to improve them as you can at club level (something with frustrated Sven I'm sure). The time you have with them is too infrequent and crucially, too short.

What you need is an organiser, someone who can put in place a defined structure and way of playing and ensure that the group of players at their disposal can fit into this structure and understand their roles and responsibilities.

For me, this has to be a foreign appointment. Forget all the tub-thumping from the press in regards to 'it has to be an English appointment'. Arguably, McLaren was the best English option out there at the time and it has clearly failed.

There are no other English managers out there who would offer anything different. Curbishley? Allardyce? Redknapp? Coppell? The problem for me is that they are too immersed into Premiership life, and the day to day necessities that brings.

What is interesting is that in recent times there has been success enjoyed by former top international players who have jumped straight into international posts. Marco Van Basten, Slaven Billic and even Mark Hughes saw their first jobs on the international stage. There is an argument that you could almost bypass any candidate who has been involved in the club management given the different nature of the roles.

Playing devils advocate slightly, you could then make a case for Alan Shearer to be considered for the position. He has played (succesfully) at the highest level for club and country and is still in touch enough with the game to translate into being a success.

If you do go for an experienced foreign choice though, then the usual candidates are all thrown into the ring. Mourinho, Hiddink, Scolari, Lippi, O'Neill and Capello all immediately spring to mind.

Mourinho will not want the job as he will either take the Portugal job next summer or one of the top European club positions. Hiddink appears committed to Russia whilst Scolari has spurned the chance already.

Capello has staked his claim already by declaring his interest, and would be an excellent choice having enjoyed success wherever he has been - but appears to butt heads with both players and management along the way. O'Neill is seemingly the bookies favourite, but was overlooked once and may feel once bitten, twice shy.

What is clear though is that the decision has to be the correct one. It cannot be a 'safe' choice or one to appease the press, public or paymasters. International management is increasingly becoming a short-term affair with most appointments not lasting beyond four years (or two tournaments).

That would rule out dismissing someone because of age reasons alone, which is my choice for the job (should he want it of course) would be Marcello Lippi. A guy who is respected amongst all players, has achieved virtually everything in his career boasting an unrivalled CV. He has worked with talented players and got the best out of these players in every job he has been in. The one aspect may be if he wants to get back into club management after winning the World Cup, but if he is sounded out and available the he should be the first choice.

vote it up!

1 comment:

Wigan Blue said...

"Capello has staked his claim already by declaring his interest, and would be an excellent choice having enjoyed success wherever he has been - but appears to butt heads with both players and management along the way."

Isn't that exactly what we need - "Play it my way or you're out" - "You're out"

I'm sick of the press picking the team - "You can't leave Lampard out..." The man has been total crap for England for years. Worse than that, he stops Gerrard from playing his normal game every time they walk onto the pitch together - so that wipes out two of our midfield straight away. If you look at it that way, "Plucky 9 man England played brilliantly against Croatia."

Pick your Prima Donnas with care. Intersperse them with workhorses who will run their hearts out, tackle back, and carry the ball forward to the 3 or 4 'gems' in the team.

Sorry, but I DO look back to 1966 and 1970, which was the last time it was done properly.

And sack the FA fatcats who've done it again.