Thursday, February 9, 2012

The right man for the England job should be...

Fabio Capello stepped down as England’s manager following a meeting with the F.A to discuss John Terry’s demotion as England captain – a decision that was taken by the F.A. Most people in the press, and elsewhere, have expressed an unusual amount of joy at his departure by saying it’s time for someone new to come in and bring some fresh ideas. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a familiar sentiment every time England’s manager steps down. New ideas, fresh face, etc. But this time the cry is loud and the cry is clear, the English now want an Englishman in charge. This widespread call for a home-grown manager to take over the England job has been making the rounds all over the place. There’s been a lot of talk about how much money the English F.A have spent on Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello’s salaries whilst both failed to live up to the ridiculous expectations that the English, and in particular their press, have for the national side prior to any international tournament. However, there are two particular points that seem to be completely ignored.

The first one is regarding a certain man called Steve McLaren. For some inexplicable reason, his name is just being mentioned as part of a short anecdote when Capello and Eriksson’s reigns are being discussed. People seem to forget that between Sven’s “golden generation” (please pay attention to the quotation marks) and Capello’s prima-donnas, an Englishman took over the helm and failed even more miserably than both of the foreign managers that sandwiched his arrival and his departure. Under McLaren, England failed to qualify for Euro 2008. But that’s not important, is it? That’s without mentioning some of the disastrous results that led to the failure of qualification amongst many other mockery handlings of affairs (ex: captaincy issue with Beckham). An Englishman causing a mess? Surely not. Actually, as it’s been very well publicized, since 1966 England have failed pretty horribly at every international tournament they’ve participated in with the exceptions of relative “successes” at Italia 90 and Euro 96 - both ending in semi-final exits on penalty shoot-outs vs the Germans. Don’t get me wrong, McLaren was not a bad manager. The fact that he was able to take over lowly FC Twente in the Dutch league following his dismissal and turned them into Dutch Champions is often ignored by too many people in his homeland. That achievement is not an easy feat.  But again, the point being made is that a qualified Englishman (not for the first time) failed as the country’s manager. So they’ve got to hold their horses on the high praise that English managers are receiving. 46 years of English managers and only two foreign managers speaks for itself.

The second, and more important point, is the fact that right now in English football there has been a lot of talk about racism still being ever-present. The fact that a person’s nationality, race, color of skin and such is still taking a massive importance in the way certain individuals are being viewed, treated and insulted as professional footballers. How ironic is it that the whole of England is calling for their manager to be English and not foreign? Isn’t there an outcry in the nation right now about equal opportunities and treatment for everyone regardless of their race, and particularly in Football? The assumption that an Englishman, ahead of a foreign person, will bring success to the national team is laughable and incredibly paradoxical. The history records prove it. Being successful is a simple equation. The best man, regardless of his race or nationality, should be considered for the job. It doesn’t matter if he’s English, Indian, Japanese or Italian – if he’s qualified enough, he should be good enough. Some are saying that an Englishman will understand the banter and traditions that are required to manage the England team and it might breed success. Nearly half a century without a trophy and there’s an actual assumption that understanding banter and tradition will bring success? I’m pretty sure a few managers will be laughing that off. Actually, I’m pretty sure every manager since Alf Ramsey will testify that managing England is not an easy job – English or not; banter or none. To add insult to injury, it’s no coincidence that since the English Premier League (self-proclaimed best league in the world) was created in 1992, 20 years ago, no English manager has ever won the league. Not one. Zilch, Zero, Nada! Two Scotsmen, one Frenchman, one Portuguese and one Italian have all triumphed. No Englishman in that list anywhere to pride themselves upon. So if an Englishman can’t even win the league title, why are they so convinced that an Englishman will definitely be the answer to lead the national team to international glory? It simply doesn’t make sense.

Football is a simple game and it certainly doesn’t require an astronaut to understand how things work. The England manager should be a man of power, authority and with a track record of success and tactical nous to be able to win Football matches. Fabio Capello ticked all of these boxes. His records and titles speak for themselves. His no-nonsense approach to things makes his achievements prior to the England job all the more admirable. But his authority was questioned and consequently taken away when the F.A made a decision regarding an issue that Capello, under normal circumstances, should have made himself. He lost his authority, he quit the job. Makes sense. The manager should always be the most important person in a team (national or club) and the moment his authority, power and influence are taken away, you can be sure that failures and conflicts will follow. It’s something the F.A should take note of, because as long as they keep sticking their fingers into first-team affairs, England will not be successful, whether it’s an Englishman, an Italian or even a well-trained elephant at the helm.

1 comment:

  1. The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.