Never a year goes by without the future of the current England manager and speculation over his potential replacements dominating at least one slow-sports-news week. It’s a go-to topic, like ‘Fabregas Wanted by Barcelona’, ‘Giggs is Really Quite Good, Have You Noticed?’ or ‘Terry Family Member Questioned by Police Over ——-‘
One of the recent speculators’ favourites, after getting Tottenham into the Champions League for the first time in their history, is the excitable Harry Redknapp.
On the one hand he seems to be a good man-manager, he’s tactically-competent, and has brought several teams from ‘lowly’ positions (as, in some cases, he’ll never tire of reminding us) to arguable over-achievement. And over-achievement is something the national side is yet to sample. You never know – they might like it – the media certainly would.
But for all his white-flag-waving at Manchester City, Harry also spends a lot of money to bring his teams success – not a luxury afforded to national managers – so would the quality at his disposal in the England set-up be enough to work his magic on? There’s certainly plenty there, with a decent crop of youth creeping in already, but would it be enough?
And would he be able to handle the ‘big personalities’? Harry’s got a bit of a history of falling out with players and though he’ll do his best to keep it internal, it’s pretty obvious when players like Bentley and Pavlyuchenko are only justifying big transfer fees by doing an extra-high-quality job of warming the bench. How would he react to being undermined by an ex-captain, or having a star-striker tell him to procreate off? And what if he, god forbid, froze-out a star player during a tournament? How would he handle the media-frenzy at every following draw or loss?
Perhaps the biggest loss he’d have to handle in moving to a high-profile team, would be his pressure-relieving tactic of telling everyone who’ll listen that his team don’t have a chance against their opponents but that they should just get credit for ‘having a go’. I’m not sure that kind of talk would be met with much sympathy when England lined-up against Denmark. Or Belgium. Or Liechtenstein.
It seems that Harry’s real talent really is, like many other lauded managers who suddenly lose all respect as soon as they fail to make the grade in a higher-expectation role (step forward Woy) getting the best out of average players. To take England to the next level we need someone who can get the best out of quality players. Someone the players ‘like’ purely out of fear of upsetting. And as far as I can see, there are only two working managers we’ve seen in the Premiership recently who fit that bill, and one’s far too Scottish to take the job.
I’m sorry to say it English-manager-demanders, it would be great if we had a home-grown manager capable of getting the results we’re all so desperate to finally achieve, but if we want to get anywhere with the current crop of Lamborghini-driving English talent, there’s only one man for the job. And he’s Portuguese.