Imagine that English football found itself in a similar situation to the one that existed on 8th February 2012, when Fabio Capello left the position of national team manager because of a dispute with the FA over John Terry and the England captaincy.
Imagine that in February next year England have successfully negotiated their way through their qualifying group and are preparing for the forthcoming World Cup, when Roy Hodgson decides that the pressure of the job is too much and resigns.
Many would rejoice, and many would be angry, but everyone would be asking whom the FA should appoint as the next England manager. In that scenario, where would the national team turn next? Which Englishman would be appointed?
Redknapp’s last encounter with the FA ended with the 66-year-old seemingly being messed around and humiliated as he was not asked about the job, despite being massively backed by the majority of the British press. His time at Tottenham Hotspur was a huge success and the football his team played in European competition looked like a good indicator for how the future England squad would operate. But would he still be considered the best candidate considering the past year and a half?
No one can argue that the job he had at QPR to keep that team up was difficult, having taken over a squad with such chasms that they made the Grand Canyon look like a divot, but there was still a further 26 games to go of the season and a transfer window in which he invested heavily in players he thought capable of keeping the west London club in the Premier League. After 38 games they finished bottom of the division, won just four games and finished with 25 points.
For Harry Redknapp to be appointed as England manager it would take a huge leap of faith from both parties. The FA would have to take a leap of faith with a manager whose recent history leaves much to be desired and who isn’t currently in England’s top division (something that is expected of most of the players called up to the national team), and the QPR manager would have to agree to work with the men who embarrassed him so badly in 2012 and created a situation which pretty much lost him his job at Spurs.
Currently the second longest serving manager in the Premier League, although that title requires you to hold a position for just three years, Pardew would undoubtedly be considered for the manager’s position. The Newcastle United manager has managed in all four divisions and was handed generous plaudits for his time at West Ham and during his first season with his current club in the Premier League (in which he won the Premier League Manager of the Year Award and League Managers Association Manager of the Year Award).
However, many would argue that his best times are behind him and that last season showed he lacks any real consistency. He managed just a 16th placed finish (in the previous season his squad had finished 5th) and flirted with relegation in the final few months. Although a successful run in the Europa League, where his team reached the quarterfinals, could be seen as a major success and demonstrates his ability to adapt to European football.
Unfortunately the 52-year-old does not benefit from a particularly popular public image. In the past he has been reprimanded for pushing over match officials, saying that Michael Essien “raped” Ched Evans on Match of the Day, being filmed undercover ridiculing West Ham fans and demonised by Reading fans for forcing through his move away from the club. There are plenty of people in the press with an axe to grind with Alan Pardew (the Telegraph were banned from St James’ Park at the end of last season) and the FA are unlikely to want to get involved in such an appointment.
“Big Sam” has been listed as a potential England manager every time the position has come up since he joined Bolton Wanderers in 1999. Allardyce came closest in 2006 when a replacement was needed for Sven-Goran Eriksson and he was seen as the most successful and experienced candidate – he managed to get Bolton promoted to the Premier League in 2001, weathered the storm in the following two seasons and ended his reign there having reached a League Cup final and qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
If Roy Hodgson’s job did become available then he would still be one of the most experienced candidates for the position. The only negative baggage that Sam Allardyce brings is that he is regularly held up as the English-football bogeyman that is dragging the game back into the dark depths of long balls and touch tackling – someone who would be light-years behind the tactical thinking in world football at the moment. However, it is a title that is thoroughly undeserved and does a huge disservice to a manager who at times has been at the forefront of using new technology and has brought through and managed some of England’s most technically gifted players.
Allardyce has spoken openly in the past of desperately wanting to manage the England national team – saying in 2011 that he would “walk over burning coals” to replace Fabio Capello after Euro 2012. Unfortunately the tag he has of being an old-fashioned, out-of-date football manager would deter the FA, who would be reluctant to face the criticism of not being ambitious and exciting with their choice of manager, and may unfortunately overlook an ideal candidate.
The Crystal Palace manager would undoubtedly be the public’s most popular choice, having won countless hearts with his unreserved opinions and insistence on fair play. In fairness to the 50-year-old he deserves the praise he gets, having won promotion with QPR into the Championship and taken Blackpool and Crystal Palace into the Premier League. His teams earn much acclaim for their attacking play and ambitious style – something most England fans would love to see in their national team.
However, the reason why the fans love him so much is one of the reasons why the FA wouldn’t want to hire him as manager – his outspokenness. Brian Clough wasn’t made England manager back in the 70s and 80s because individuals at the FA didn’t want him to embarrass the country on an international stage with his crass observations and xenophobic attitudes which would cause a strain on international relations. Greg Dyke would equally not cherish the chore of cleaning up after Holloway’s quotes, which in the past have equated a scrappy win with sleeping with unattractive women, claimed he was so unlucky he could fall in a barrel of boobs and come out sucking his thumb and commented on the size of Cristiano Ronaldo’s manhood.
If the occasion arose when England needed a new manager and Ian Holloway was approached, it is likely that the Bristol-born former midfielder would take the decision out of the FA’s hands. Holloway’s talent comes from the fact that he can create a fantastic team ethic and is able to work with his players every day, a facet of his style that he himself sees as his biggest flaw in taking the England job.
Probably the most overlooked English manager in the Premier League, despite the successes his has enjoyed in his short managerial career. The former Republic of Ireland international spent ten years as a coach at Tottenham Hotspur before joining Newcastle in 2008 and becoming their caretaker manager in the Championship. Hughton then took the club into the Premier League before being controversially sacked, a decision which was scorned by the majority of Newcastle fans and most of the press.
The 54-year-old would go on to manage Birmingham City in the Championship (achieving a 4th placed finish and guiding them to the Europa League group stage) and then in 2012 replaced Paul Lambert at Norwich. Hughton has shown he can manage in the top division having achieved an 11th placed finish last season and looking as if he can improve in 2013/2014. However, despite a promising start, he hasn’t got enough management experience under his belt – something he himself would possibly want before taking on such an incredibly difficult job.