A poisoned chalice : who would want to be an England manager?

Who in world football would be prepared to take on currently the most challenging job in the game, the England manager? The England national team was once again on the back and front pages of tabloids for all the wrong reasons, due to the disaster that was Euro 2016, the latest in a catalogue of failures and underachievement at major tournaments over the past two decades.

After Sam Allardyce’s popular appointment in July, he was controversially sacked after just 67 days at the helm; just after we all thought the state of English football couldn’t sink any lower…

Big Sam was part of a Daily Telegraph newspaper investigation, where it was claimed that he offered advice on how to get around rules on player transfers. He has also been accused to have used his role to negotiate a deal worth £400,000 to represent a firm in the Far East.

The FA claim his conduct was inappropriate and have taken the decision to part ways with Big Sam. Gareth Southgate will take charge of the next four games, as the FA look for a replacement.

Big Sam, clearly devastated at losing his dream job, understands and accepts being sacked. He does claim he was ‘stitched up’ but the comments he made to the undercover agent were wrong and he has felt the full wrath of the Football Association.

“If Gareth Southgate wins the four games he is in charge for, then he will be given the managerial role on a full-time basis”

He has since apologised for his comments, where he also made comments about Hodgson and Gary Neville’s poor Euros. In my opinion, he was rightly sacked and while this whole situation is extremely embarrassing for England, he was never the right man for the job.

I believe former German international Jurgen Klinsmen or Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe should be given the job. In reality, if Gareth Southgate wins the four games he is in charge for, then he will be given the managerial role on a full-time basis.

While Big Sam’s sacking is controversial, it is now time for the FA and the England national team to have a long hard look at themselves. Alan Shearer said that England are the ‘laughing stock of football’ at the moment, and I would tend to agree. It is time for some big changes on the England international scene.

While Southgate is only interim boss at the moment, I fear that the FA would be happy to settle with him as the permanent manager. The ex-Middlesborough man has done an admirable job with the Under-21s, but he will never be the right man for the first team.

On the contrary, his understanding of the England set-up and success at managing the youth sides could be a useful attribute for the national team. A man at the heart of the Euro 1996 team, Southgate was involved in probably the last England group where the public were truly proud to support them and satisfied with their performances in a major tournament.

But England must look to the next world cup. Barring the wally with a brolly’s campaign (Steve McClaren), England always do very well in the qualifying. No matter who takes England through into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they must generate an identity for this England team.

“What we’ve seen in recent years is turgid square passing, and cautious football where players would rather play it back than beat a man”

The manager, whether it is Southgate or anyone else, must be brave with their selections and pick players based on form, not reputation. I personally would not have picked Wayne Rooney for this squad simply because of his form, especially when Troy Deeney or Charlie Austin are playing much better. 

Overall, it is clear that English football at the international level is a shambles and it is time for some big changes. It needs an overhaul from the grassroots upwards to get mass amounts of people playing football again.

It needs to give more support to young English academy players looking to break through into Premier League teams. It needs to enforce rules on the number of foreign players able to come into the English first division. 

But fundamentally it needs to an embed an identity into all teams and players nationwide, whether that be long ball tactics, tiki-taka or high-pressing, counter-attacking football. We need a system that all fans and players can get behind. What we’ve seen in recent years is turgid square passing, and cautious football where players would rather play it back than beat a man and get a dangerous cross into the box.

Hopefully, Southgate or the next manager will embed some sort of system into England that all teams can emulate. In 2016, the state of the England national team has been the most turbulent in the country’s history, we need a miracle and a saviour to resurrect it from the ground upwards.

Words by Amar Metha

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