Football

England manager must be picked on merit

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Redknapp remains the bookies' favourite. (©GettyImages)
Redknapp remains the bookies' favourite. (©GettyImages).

England players are picked on merit. So, why aren't managers? True, there obviously has to be some sort of job spec that the Football Association addresses when weighing up potential candidates available for appointment for the national team role.

It might seem like a radical suggestion, but I think it's time for a major overhaul of the entire recruitment process. If past history has taught us anything, it's that the only consistency in the FA's handling of the whole England set-up, is that they have consistently got it wrong.

Wrong, in terms of players, managers, preparation, friendlies - it all comes down to the same conclusion. A lack of success and silverware.

But, 'why now' I hear you ask. Well, the short answer is, why not? It's as good a time as any.

England have fallen one place to seventh in the latest world rankings announced by FIFA this morning. It returns the Three Lions to the place they occupied immediately after the 2010 World Cup, and more recently in October last year, and is a result of Portugal's rise by two spots to fifth.

We are now the fifth-highest-ranked European nation, trailing leaders Spain by a massive 310 points. Germany have moved up to second, with Holland, winners at Wembley in February, dropping back two spots to fourth.

Copa America winners Uruguay (third) are the only non-European team in the top five, with Brazil in sixth.

In the months leading up to Euro 2012, our nation finds itself without a permanent head coach, a captain, or any sense of direction ahead of this summer's major tournament in Poland and Ukraine. And, quite frankly, our FIFA ranking is generous to say the least.

Harry Redknapp remains the overwhelming favourite to try and restore some pride in our country and fill the vacant England manager's job, but the Tottenham chief says he is unsure whether he wants to make the transition from a club manager into the international arena.

The 65-year-old believes the short amount of time any national team boss has access to players makes the job increasingly difficult, and it would be fair to say he has blown hot and cold over the possibility of leading the Three Lions into Euro 2012 this summer.

Whilst managing your country is the ultimate position for any English manager, Redknapp has also conceded it would be hard to leave White Hart Lane after three and a half years of Spurs success.

If it was me, I'd give Redknapp the option of a temporary contract which lasts only for the duration of the tournament. In fact, I'd get rid of a permanent England managerial position altogether, and pick the best placed English boss at the current time to lead the country into a World Cup or European Championship campaign.

Those suggesting it would bring no stability - well, the stability will come in the form of the FA board of directors and support staff, the panel currently responsible for bringing in the next manager. And a core group of coaches, and football experts from the youth international sides through to Stuart Pearce and the U21s.

The qualification process for any major tournament is generally long and laborious, and often includes a vast number of different players who make fleeting appearances in the England set-up, usually a result of media pressure for recognition for their domestic form.

Essentially, qualifying is easy and could be realised by anyone (relatively speaking) in charge of England. The achievement isn't proof of anything other than an ability to steer clear of horrible embarrassment - it's an expectation, by no means a success story.

This summer should see the likes of Alan Pardew in contention to lead our country into Euro 2012 - reward for an impressive season of over-achievement with Newcastle, who are in contention for Champions League qualification next year. That winning mentality and feel-good factor could be the perfect ingredient for any team preparing to enter a knockout tournament.

The chosen manager should be able to bring with them two coaching aids from their domestic job, an assistant manager and a specialist in their chosen area, whether it's a goalkeeping coach, physio, fitness guru, or yoga teacher. The point is, the decision should be left with them, and will give a close-knit group more influence in their new, short-term surroundings.

There's an old saying, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Well, I'm afraid England's hopes have been damaged for too long. So, let's try something new in an attempt resolve the problem.

Topics:
Internationals
Football
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