Wanted: A football coach willing to risk everything, open to nosey journalists, ready to put up with overly ambitious fans, courageous (or desperate even) to work with a team that has long lost its identity but hasn’t gained a new one, and yet would not mind ending the term, despite all the effort and sacrifice, as failure. In short, England’s Football Association is seeking a new coach for its senior team.
Before we get to the future, however, here is a quick recap. How did England get here? Okay, that’s a loaded question. Interpreting it as what happened to the previous coach; Sam Allardyce had to resign after a ‘sting operation’ (that happens in England too) by Daily Telegraph caught him on tape making less-than-honourable statements on a not-so-ethical subject. Out he went with just a match under his belt, a 1-0 win over Slovakia. A permanent job that lasted just 67 days.
So, here is the FA back on familiar turf with an extensive list of requirements for a job not a lot of people are keen on. An anecdote: In an interview with BT Sport, Jose Mourinho, then with Chelsea in his second term, was asked if he regretted rejecting the England job. After a brisk no, Mourinho explained; “I remember clearly the moment, the next match for England was to be in Paris, France v England in a friendly match. I was already thinking who to select, who to play and how to do it. She (Mourinho’s wife) came to me and asked ‘when is your next match?’ I said ‘two months’. She said, ‘what will you do for two months? Forget it, it is not for you, not in 20 years.”
Little wonder the odds are high on Arsene Wenger and Ralf Rangnick on Oddschecker.com. The odds are highest though on Gareth Southgate, the England under-21 coach, who has now been promoted as the caretaker coach of senior team. In reality, Southgate is at best warming the seat for his successor, no matter how his tenure turns out.
Seeking a German touch?
Hence, it is wiser to consider the likes of Rangnick and Wenger. To able to work with the limited resources and yet be consistently in the reckoning for the title is Wenger’s thing. England needs that now. Winning the World Cup or the Euro can come later.
Rangnick though is a more realistic target. The German has a wealth of experience managing clubs such as Stuttgart, Hannover, Hoffenheim and is currently the sporting director of RB Leipzig. Red Bull presumably must be paying him handsome, but to be in limelight is what every coach and player in football yearns for. The England job would provide him that in abundance.
Also in the reckoning is former Birmingham City, Wigan and Hull City manager Steve Bruce, mostly by virtue of being an Englishman. A more mainstream English choice, however, would be the former Newcastle and current Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew. Though an Englishman, he clearly has taken a liking to European ‘Continental football’. But if ‘Continental’ is the way to go, now American citizen Juergen Klinsmann and former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini would be interested.
For now though, the FA has withheld its recruitment drive or more probably taken it to the basement. That has left Southgate with a good run of matches, starting with the Malta game on Saturday, to convince bosses who have seemed inconvincible so far.
Whichever way this game goes, boring it never would be.