From the off, may I hit one nail very forcibly on the head? International management needn’t necessarily be a full-time job. Indeed, I think most national team coaches, particularly Fabio Capello at £6 million a year, are guilty of outrageous bluff. Part-time is all it is.
Take the Italian’s example. His reign encompassed 42 games over four years. A heavy work-load, isn’t it? Then, of course, he had to watch club games, i.e. when he wasn’t on one of his frequent holidays. Full-time? You’re having a laugh.
The point is that, whatever the tug-of-war that’s likely to ensue between the Football Association and Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Redknapp could easily do BOTH jobs if he and his employers were willing. And, given that Stuart Pearce will be in charge of the match against Holland, Redknapp can at least temporarily carry on at White Hart Lane, deal with the England friendlies at the end of the club season and lead England in Ukraine.
However much I respect him as an outstanding manager in club football, I don’t especially mourn Capello’s departure. I thought the FA had it right in appointing him in the first place and he led the team through two fault-free qualifying campaigns but it was what happened between them that raised doubts in my mind.
South Africa was a shambles and embarrassing if you follow England. Though he wasn’t responsible for Rio Ferdinand’s injury or Robert Green’s vulnerability, Capello did supervise the boot-camp mentality and the choice of tactics. The debacle against Germany followed after the 0-0 against Algeria, a contender for the worst-ever England performance.
Even Capello anticipated then that the FA might wish to terminate his employment. I would have said ‘goodbye’, no matter the compensation. But they didn’t and thereafter I supported his tenure, trying to push aside his continuing disgraceful lack of English: how can you communicate with your players never mind the general public if you don’t speak the language?
But Capello saved his worst for the end.
I have been a fan of John Terry as a player and remain so to a degree but never as the captain: too much baggage. To appoint him once was bad enough, twice was unforgivable.
Capello could disagree with the FA but it was their call to make to remove Terry: any dissent should have been kept ‘in house’, not aired on Italian television.
No matter, we move on. I’d be happy enough with Redknapp but I detest this ‘Little Englander’ atmosphere that pertains at the moment. I don’t think it matters unduly what the nationality of the England coach is provided he actually speaks English and, of course, can do the job. Funnily enough, there is no GUARANTEE of that from Redknapp — I’m referring to English grammar here — on either count!
Anyway, far too much is expected of England managers. Of whom did the Sun say in 1990 — the year I began commentating on England — “In the name of God, Go!”? It was Bobby Robson, whose World Cup record was surpassed only by Alf Ramsey!