Let me get this out of the way; I think Harry Redknapp is a fantastic manager. He is first-rate. His dealings in the transfer window are second to none and he deserves all the plaudits he gets for the way he has implemented the brand of attacking style of play now seen at Spurs. He is, of course, the obvious choice for the recently vacated England manager’s job, writes Craig Peters.
But do I think he’s the right choice? No, I don’t. Sadly, though, he is probably the best of a bad bunch of English managers.
This is unusual territory for England. As fans we are, by now, normally heaping further weight on to the players’ shoulders by proclaiming this must be our time to win a major tournament; this is our best team for a generation; and picking our own preferred starting XI, usually in the pub. It has a familiar sense of déjà vu.
But this time is different - the focus for once isn’t on the players. It’s about who will be standing before them, leading them into the dark, misty cauldrons of Eastern Europe for battle in Poland and Ukraine.
Harry can get the best out of his players. He enjoys being out there on the training ground on a daily basis and you can tell instantly that the humorous and often adolescent banter with his team and backroom staff is well and truly alive. He also has a knack of spotting a player or two in the transfer market who can simply add quality to his squad.
Harry won’t have any of this if he takes the England job. Gone will be his unflappable enthusiasm on transfer deals, gone will be his day-to-day running of the team, gone will be the ongoing banter with the players on the training ground. He will be lost. Instead he will be handling approximately ten games a year and will be dispatched to various television studios and football grounds to cover Premier League games.
In a word, I think Redknapp is in danger of finding the England manager’s job ‘boring’.
But if we are to turn to an Englishman for the job, the quality has evaporated. Names such as Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce have been thrown into the mix in recent years. Two managers who have seen their stock shrink over the past 18 months or so, with the latter being reported as failing to land the Wolves job. Another name in the mix is Alan Pardew, who not so long ago was managing in League One with Southampton.
Our new breed of young playing talent is yet to be polluted by the pressure put on the likes of Lampard, Ferdinand et al over the past ten years. Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Joe Hart and Kyle Walker bring with them a fresh, new energy which has been lacking in the England national side. And this needs be mirrored with the FA’s managerial appointment.
The FA must show backbone. Public clamor for Redknapp and pressure from the media could easily sway their decision. But they must look at it from all angles as a new breed of younger manager is introducing itself to the main stage; one that stands on the touchline straight from a Gap advert. A manager who relates to and understands each member of his squad, both personally and professionally.
Pep Guardiola, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and of course Jose Mourinho. Managers who started their managerial careers in their early to mid-thirties. The first two have both already won European trophies while Di Matteo – unfortunate to be sacked from West Brom – showed positive signs and a desire to keep the ball on the deck.
Mourinho was 36 when took over at Benfica in 2000 and 40 when he started his successful period with Porto. But let’s remember – he had even learned his managerial trade even earlier than that as the late Sir Bobby Robson’s understudy at Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon.
While I like Redknapp, I fear his appointment might be another sideways step for English football. Five minutes of renewed optimism will soon change to the inevitable murmurs of discontent and calls for a new manager and changes at the top.
Guardiola is obviously being groomed for the Spain job - a scary thought given that he already manages half that side at Barcelona. Joachim Low was also just 42 when he hit the German national scene as assistant manager before, as the boss himself, introducing a new vibrant young team who swept England aside at the 2010 World Cup. Harry will be 65 if he is appointed this year.
Would the likes of Jones, Young and Rooney be deterred from playing for someone such as Alan Shearer, Jamie Carragher or Gary Neville? Such an appointment might just be the start of an exciting new era.
Would the FA dare to be so bold? No doubt they will just go for the safe option.
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Osprey founder and director Craig Peters has played sport at a high level. Part of Brighton & Hove Albion’s youth team in the mid to late 90s, Craig was part of the same midfield line-up which included England midfielder Gareth Barry, for both Brighton & Sussex. Craig started his playing days at Portsmouth at the age of 12, moving on to Gillingham before heading to the team he supported as a boy, Brighton. Craig then played semi-professionally for Burgess Hill and Withdean in the Combined Counties League. He has also previously competed for Sussex on the athletics track in both the 1,500 and 3,000m.
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