Euro 2012: Top 10 Managers to Replace Fabio Capello After the Tournament
As hope is rekindled for the Euro 2012 tournament by England's impressive victory against Bulgaria, the FA must surely be considering plans on how to succeed Fabio Capello.
England's ruling body has come under attack for the way they have handled the most prestigious (theoretically) coaching position in English football. Offering Capello a massive new contract before last year's woeful World Cup performance was the latest in a long line of blunders.
To regain any semblance of respect from the footballing public, the next appointment has to be correct.
The following list is ordered according to the current betting odds on who will take over from Capello. In no way, shape or form does this list reflect my personal belief of who should be considered.
I will, however, be glad to give you my personal views on their suitability.
10. Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes is a former hero of Old Trafford and later Stamford Bridge with stops between including Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
After taking Wales very close to qualifying for a major tournament in 2004, Hughes was seen as a talented young manager after his work at Blackburn, then Manchester City.
After taking Fulham to eighth in the league in 2010-2011, he is currently without a job—could England be his next port of call?
Hughes has international management experience as well as playing experience in England, Germany and Spain. He is still viewed by some as a good manager who should be in a top-tier position.
Hughes is relatively inexperienced as a coach, and his resignation from Fulham (apparently to take over at Aston Villa—who then balked at his lack of loyalty) left a bad taste in the mouth for many fans.
The FA is very conscious about image (just ask Terry Venables), and it is highly unlikely they would take a punt on Hughes in his current light.
Plus, he is still remembered as the Wales manager, and that's a bit too close to home—even if Hughes did want the job.
Give him five more years at a mid-sized club, followed by success at a major power, then perhaps—but not now. More of a long shot than one of his patented volleys.
9. Sam Allardyce
"Big Sam" Allardyce began his managerial career as an assistant at West Bromwich Albion with his most recognized achievement coming as manager of Bolton.
In his eight-year stint, Allardyce took Bolton into the Premier League and eventually into the UEFA Cup, which is certainly not an achievement to underestimate. Allardyce had been very successful at Bolton, but wanted to challenge for honors, so took the manager's position at Newcastle United.
Newcastle fans were distinctly underwhelmed with Allardyce's preferred style of play and the pragmatic manager's tenure was short-lived.
At Blackburn, Allardyce was sacked when they were hovering around mid-table, which is certainly not a bad position for the club, and many were surprised at the poor treatment he received.
Allardyce is certainly keen on the job to the point of going out of the way to promote himself for it in the past. He has performed well with limited resources at a number of clubs, and he would do just as good a job as Mourinho at Real Madrid—if you believe what Sam Allardyce says.
The FA would like to appoint an Englishman, and he fits that criterion.
At a time where Capello has been criticized for his conservative and inflexible tactics, Allardyce makes Capello's teams look like Barcelona.
One worries that England games at Wembley would come with free neck-braces due to watching the ball sail through the air throughout the game. I am of course being somewhat hyperbolic, but Allardyce's appointment would not be popular among England fans.
No way, no how.
8. David Beckham
Just say the name, and rolling green hills backed by the strains of Jerusalem spring to mind and stir the blood.
England's former No. 7—and current ambassador to Los Angeles for all that is English—has enough rabid fans who cling to memories of his free-kick against Greece to believe his "passion for the shirt" would be revolutionary for the national team once more, but this time in the dugout.
So English his crosses were actually blessed by St. George, Beckham is a superb role model and football politician—which could be handy at FIFA events at the moment.
He is respected by the players as one of England's most capped representatives. Many fans absolutely adore him as well.
Beckham has absolutely no managerial experience for one of the most challenging jobs in world football.
He would also be the first England manager to be photographed in only his underwear.
The fact that Beckham has shorter odds to be manager of England than actual managers means there are far too many people who think that shouting, "Passion for the shirt!" is an actual answer to deploying an effective football team.
Not. A. Chance.
7. Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger is still one of the most respected coaches in world football.
He revolutionised not only Arsenal's style of play, but he is one of the men directly responsible for moving coaching in England out of the cross-country running and "hoof-it" era.
Wenger is currently under immense scrutiny at Arsenal where his ideological approach to promoting youth over purchasing established, expensive players has somewhat floundered in recent years.
Wenger's teams play attacking, fluid and beautiful football. He promotes technical excellence, and more than any other manager currently working in the English game, he takes good players and makes them great.
I have little doubt Wenger would pick a side for England based purely on technical ability and would enforce a style of play that would put to rest memories of Graham Taylor and Howard Wilkinson.
The FA wants him.
He doesn't want the job.
Partly this is due to his work at Arsenal, which has become an all-consuming passion of his. There is a possibility that if this season is unsuccessful, the Arsenal board might look elsewhere just as Capello reaches the end with England.
Very unlikely simply due to his disinterest in the role rather than his ability to do it.
6. Guus Hiddink
Guus Hiddink is the most successful club manager in Dutch history, which certainly means he knows how to put an effective, attractive side together.
A manager with vast experience at all levels of the game, his name is synonymous with excellence in coaching.
He has plenty of international experience as a manager, coaching South Korea to unprecedented World Cup success, getting the Socceroos not only to the World Cup, but past the first round. He also coached Russia, though not with the triumphant outcome of his other appointments.
As temporary manager of Chelsea, he won the FA Cup and is fondly regarded by fans and players alike. England's current captain would jump (and probably perform a thunderous clearing header) at the chance to work with Hiddink again.
The FA is currently trying to move toward promoting an English coach to show that coaching in England isn't utterly devoid of talent. They also don't want to throw a Himalayan pile of cash at another foreign manager for it all to end before the quarterfinals of another major tournament.
Whether Hiddink can really be compared to Sven and Fabio is open for discussion, but the FA doesn't seem to want to risk making a hat-trick of unsuccessful and expensive excursions abroad.
Hiddink has the track record, but the tub-thumping for an English manager seems to have taken too great a hold to make him a contender.
5. Jose Mourinho
Jose "The Special One" Mourinho is a manager who is loved and loathed in equal measure (often depending on where you live in Spain), but is undoubtedly one of the most successful and commanding presences in the modern game.
Pragmatic, adversarial and extremely intelligent, Mourinho is a rarity among managers in that he is an unrelenting winner.
He knows the English game like the back of his well-manicured hand and has good personal relationships with several of the England players.
When it comes to winning trophies, Mourinho is a proven master at doing anything it takes to procure them and has won honors in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.
Whether his team would be entertaining isn't certain, but there's no doubt Mourinho would be.
Famously, Brian Clough was deemed too outspoken and controversial by the FA to be considered for the England job.
Mourinho makes Clough look like a shrinking violet. He recently poked an opposition coach in the eye as the latest fracas between his Real Madrid side, and Barcelona erupted.
He would also be very expensive and—by chance of birth—is not English, which raises the same issues as Wenger and Hiddink.
It is incredibly unlikely he would want the job. Mourinho is currently engaged in a personal war with Barcelona and apparently would like to replace Sir Alex Ferguson in 2286 (or whenever the venerable Scot decides to retire).
Only if he flew in to the FA by pig. The prospect of Mourinho as England manager gives an FA board member cold sweats and tremors enough to dislodge a prawn sandwich.
4. Stuart Pearce
Stuart Pearce is formerly a renowned left-back for Nottingham Forest and England, and is now a coach at England-U21 level.
Stuart "Psycho" Pearce would tackle his grandmother's dog to get the ball. He made David Beckham look like an anarchist, such was the ferocity of his patriotism for England.
If you subscribe to the "passion for the shirt" argument to choose the England manager, Stuart Pearce is the shirt.
He has experience of international tournaments both as Capello's assistant and as the manager of the England-U21 team.
Pearce has very little management experience, and his tournament experiences might be best forgotten. He took a talented U21 side to the European tournament last year and reduced them to dithering, ball-phobic nobodies. Pearce was heard shouting such incisive tactical instructions as, "Hit it long!" on the sideline.
Plus, he resorts to long-ball avoidance of the midfield far too quickly, and his team fell apart under a level of pressure that is minuscule in comparison to taking the senior side to a World Cup.
Depressingly higher than one might think. If the FA doesn't get its first choice or if one of the other contenders does something deemed inappropriate for the moral certitude of the England manager, Pearce could actually come into the frame.
Typing that sentence made my spine shiver.
3. Martin O'Neill
A former Northern Ireland international and distinguished Nottingham Forest regular, Martin O'Neill is currently looking for a big job in football after leaving Aston Villa. O'Neill felt Villa's owner was not matching his ambition to push the Midlands team into the Champion's League after finishing sixth in the league for three consecutive seasons.
O'Neill made his name at Leicester City, bringing great success to the East Midlands club. They won the League Cup twice and in doing so qualified for the UEFA Cup.
Celtic was his next destination, where O'Neill led the Scottish giants to seven trophies, including three league titles.
For quite some time, any major job in English football was immediately followed by the words, "Those being considered include Martin O'Neill." He held a sterling reputation for his coaching acumen in the English game and still does so among some quarters, even during his current absence from management.
O'Neill is a vociferous, committed manager who would certainly demand respect from the England team.
He would demand respect, but it is not certain he would receive it.
O'Neill reputedly has a habit of dressing room disagreements and favoritism that has left a number of disgruntled players out in the cold.
There have been accusations that O'Neill's career is a case of "Emperor's New Clothes," that winning at Celtic and finishing sixth with Aston Villa after spending a lot of cash are not compelling examples of great managerial talent
Highly doubtful. A few years ago O'Neill would certainly have deserved the 7-1 odds given for his appointment, but now it seems he makes the list purely on reflex; he's been touted for so many jobs he's almost there out of habit.
2. Roy Hodgson
I remember first hearing the name Roy Hodgson while watching the 1994 World Cup. The lamentable reign of Graham Taylor had ended when England failed to reach the finals, yet here was an Englishman managing a Swiss side and performing admirably.
"Who is this cosmopolitan tactical genius?" I thought to myself. Though compared to Taylor it was not difficult to look like Garry Kasparov, it was still refreshing to see an English manager making his reputation abroad.
In my ignorance I was unaware that Hodgson had been managing with some success across mainland Europe for 18 years before the World Cup, racking up honors on a dozen occasions.
After Switzerland, Hodgson briefly managed Inter Milan, taking them to a UEFA Cup final before winning two trophies in Denmark for Copenhagen.
Fulham was Hodgson's chance to return home and establish his reputation in England. Though never reaching the heights in the league (though that isn't surprising considering Fulham's resources) Hodgson led the London side to the Europa League final.
When Hodgson took over at Liverpool, he felt he had finally been given the big club in England that his long curriculum vitae deserved.
After the worst run in 56 years, Hodgson felt the Liverpool fans had hindered his ability to succeed at the club, particularly due to their devotion to Kenny Dalglish (who could still be seen at Anfield).
Hodgson came within a previous contractual obligation of becoming England manager instead of Sven Goran Eriksson.
Could this be Roy's time?
Boasting an incredible wealth of experience, Hodgson has worked across the world and has won 14 trophies.
He wants to be England manager. In fact, Hodgson was linking himself to the post very recently while in his current position as West Bromwich Albion manager, where last season he did a very good job to secure 11th place in the Premier League for the Black Country club.
As mentioned by others Hodgson is an anathema to Liverpool fans due to his boorish methods and distinctly unimaginative playing style.
I suspect Hodgson is a good manager with limited players whom he can mold with his emphasis on organization and hone into an efficient team.
Hodgson's career is defined by surprising success with untalented teams, which is not the ideal skill set of an England manager.
Thousands of Liverpool fans will tell you Hodgson would make a fantastic England manager—but every one of them would be Scottish.
Not as likely as before his Liverpool debacle, but terrifyingly possible. Hodgson is liked by the press and seen as an elder statesman of the game, something the FA laps up.
Hodgson's patience and self-appreciation were revealed in how phlegmatic he was in regards to the Anfield faithful.
God only knows how he would be as England manager when criticized.
I have no doubt he would be the second coming of Graham Taylor.
1. Harry Redknapp
Harry Redknapp is currently manager of Tottenham Hotspur and has a reputation for playing exciting, expansive football that has been nurtured from his time with Spurs and, mainly, West Ham.
Though he may bristle at the term "wheeler dealer," he is known to frequently dabble in the transfer market with varying success.
In the top-flight of English football, Redknapp has won the FA Cup and the UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Redknapp definitely wants the job which, considering the pressures that have made many men wilt, is a good thing.
Redknapp's teams are offensively focused, and he knows the English game through and through. He is very popular with the press, which would give him a little leeway in the face of the odd bad result.
He is also the only English manager to finish in the top four of the Premier League since Kevin Keegan.
There are concerns that Redknapp's off-field activities (including a court case for tax evasion) might put off the old boys' club at the FA.
Although lauded for his approach to facing Inter Milan, there still remain questions about Redknapp's tactical prudence. He is often given the dubious compliment of being a good motivator of players.
The last person to be England manager with that main facet was Kevin Keegan. Anyone who saw Keegan imploring his players to breathe deeper when they actually needed a change in formation knows how worrying that concept is.
Very possible, but not as cast-iron as many would lead you to believe. The press may champion 'Arry, but there remains doubts if the upper echelons of the FA would go with him.
His appointment is also dependent on how successful Spurs are this season.
If Tottenham has a rough ride of things this year (which is certainly possible after their shaky start and the problems with the Modric transfer), it might be easy to forget Redknapp's foray into the Champions League and instead look at his overall record—which is not overladen with silverware.
If the FA is rigidly focused on having an Englishman as the next manager, Redknapp automatically heads a very short list of names.
One Year to Decide
The day after Fabio Capello's England side emerges victorious from the Euro 2012 tournament (or more likely having gone out in the quarterfinal after playing like strangers pushed onto a dance floor) a new manager will be needed.
Personally, I would love to see Arsene Wenger take the post, but whoever begins the next stage in England's football development, they have a massive task.
Forty-five years of hurt and counting.