I must confess I did have a wry chuckle to myself when I heard that Roy Hodgson was the one man on the FA’s one-man shortlist for the England job. Harry “Mr ten per cent” Redknapp, previously the bookies and media favourite, isn’t being considered. It’s worth pointing out that the FA have largely kept their collective mouths shut since the departure of Fabio Capello and actually never specifically revealed who they were after. Until yesterday.
I suppose it was completely of a piece with the history of our dearly beloved Football Association, an institution of “self-serving, suffocating bureaucracy”, as it was described on the radio tonight, to choose an uninspiring mediocrity in the run-up to a tournament when England are widely expected to be uninspiringly mediocre. The four-man selection panel have gone for the easy, and more importantly the cheap option.
(Unsurprisingly, the Telegraph’s Henry Winter, establishment arse-kisser par excellence has immediately come out in favour of Hodgson. I’m sure if the FA had announced that they intended to hire Josef Fritzl he would have immediately tweeted that it was a brilliant idea.)
All that said, it was wonderful that Redknapp has been snubbed so brutally. I’ve discussed my contempt for a man who I think should be in prison several times previously on this blog but it does need to be reiterated that football’s answer to Del Boy is absolutely right when he says
“I’m a very lucky man.”
An unerringly correct self-assessment of a man who appears to have only got away with tax evasion charges due to his ‘cheeky cockney chappie’ public persona and a truly grotesque series of dishonestly self-pitying court appearances. I would challenge anyone to come on this blog and explain why he took a trip to noted tax haven Monaco, with the specific and sole purpose of opening a bank account in which to deposit his ‘gift’ from Milan Mandaric, if that purpose wasn’t nefarious.
Personal corruption aside, Redknapp’s managerial record is nothing to write home about in any case. His trophy haul consists of the third division title in 1986-87 with AFC Bournemouth and an FA cup win with Portsmouth in 2008 (over Cardiff City of the Championship).His highest Premier League finish despite years of managing in the division at various clubs has been fourth. When you consider that Fabio Capello has won 5 Serie A titles (several when Italian football really was the strongest in the world, and another two with Juventus, revoked after Calciolpoli) two La Liga titles and is a Champions League Winner, one could possibly suggest that Redknapp hardly seems qualified to take the national team on to the next level if Capello failed to do so. Or even get them to the quarter finals.
His style of play, i.e. pacy wingers…..and erm….. that’s about it, could well produce devastating results against the lesser lights of international football but is hardly likely to phase the likes of Spain, Germany and a reinvigorated France. A more sophisticated, cerebral approach is probably going to be required, and whilst pace is unquestionably still a dangerous weapon at any level, one gets the feeling that Redknapp would be able to bring little else to the table tactically. The abject humiliation of his Tottenham side at the hands of Real Madrid during last year’s Champions League would be a case in point.
As for Hodgson, on a personal level he is far less egregiously offensive than the King Geezer and he does appear rather more qualified for the “hardest job in football”. Admittedly his numerous league titles have all come in the rather less competitive Scandinavian leagues, but he has a wealth of international experience, has actually coached at international level and appears to the outside observer at least as a rather more learned student of the game.
The big difficulty with Hodgson is that he has a history of failing miserably when he gets a (fairly) big job. Things didn’t work out well at Blackburn (which was a very big job at the time he was in the hotseat) and I’m sure we all remember how things didn’t quite go to plan at Liverpool, a job seemingly secured after a advocacy campaign launched by his friends in the London media (although in his defence his much-vaunted successor Kenny Dalglish hasn’t exactly performed miracles and has had a far larger transfer budget.)
So Roy doesn’t exactly set ones pulse racing either, does he? He appears to be a safe pair of hands, a quiet, placid yes man, someone who won’t rock the boat or purge the squad of the obscenely over-rated ‘golden generation’ and won’t demand the root and branch reform of a hidebound FA that is needed to shake the game up from the very bottom and get people playing football for its own sake rather than chasing victories at amateur and youth tournaments that contribute nothing to a player’s long term development.
Now I’m sure that some of you are thinking right now that Mr Mambo is all mouth and no trousers.
What’s your alternative, pal? Who else is there that could take the England job?
Well here’s an idea. How about for once throwing caution to a wind, hiring a coach just for the duration of the tournament with an explicit brief to attack in as cavalier fashion as possible, not worry about the consequences and at least at the end we can say we tried something new. No one would see it coming and it might work. What is there to lose? It needs to be borne in mind that right now England are probably heading for total ignominy and everyone knows it is better to go out with a bang than a whimper.
My suggestion is the wonderful Fatih Terim, who is currently twiddling his thumbs at Galatasaray HQ and would have no divided loyalties as Turkey didn’t qualify. Remember the thrilling, almost suicidally adventurous football of his Turkey team in Euro 2008?
All three good choices, as all three would go for it but in a rather more cultured, intellectual and aesthetically pleasing fashion than the likes of our own Kevin Keegan.
So if anyone is reading this at the FA, just for once, forget your salary, forget the status quo, forget the PR and do something that would give England fans something to cheer (or at least have a good laugh over) this summer.