England Need More Than Just a New Manager

Since Fabio Capello’s resignation as the manager of the English national team, all eyes have been on who will replace him. I discuss why the next manager is not what is important.

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The FA has tried it all. Think of every type of manager, and in recent years England have had them. From Kevin Keegan to Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren to Fabio Capello, and all to similar degrees of success. Under none of the above have England lit the world alight with mesmerising football, as we were so destined to do with the talents of the “golden generation”. Changing managers doesn’t seem to be helping, and there are only a limited number of players who can actually play at an international standard, so a full scale transformation there is unlikely. The potential for actual change and forward movement is in attitudes and ideals towards football in this country.

        As much as I think that there are managers who would pick a better squad and are more tactically competent than Harry Redknapp, I am not completely against the Tottenham manager getting the England job which he seems to be edging ever closer to. Under one condition though, that it is not down to him to make any meaningful changes, primarily because he is not the man to do so. The national team need to be put to the back of everyone’s minds for a while. Let Harry take over and get England to another couple of quarter finals, producing average to good performances whilst simply not embarrassing themselves. That would be enough for now whilst a change is made at a grass roots level, where it really matters.

The fact of the matter is that England simply doesn’t have the personnel to take them to the very top of the international game at the moment. We do have some incredibly talented players coming through in Wilshere, Welbeck, Cleverley, Sturridge and so on, but that is still not enough to challenge the likes of Spain and Germany. The role of the manager seems to be incredibly overrated in this country. Yes there are teams who have achieved success because of good players but most importantly, incredible managers, Inter Milan under Mourinho for instance. At international level though, managers simply don’t have the time to instil significant approaches and techniques in squads that they see for no more than six weeks in a regular year. The job of an international manager is as much that of a motivator as it is a tactician.

As we have seen regarding the John Terry incident, the England manager is probably not the most important person regarding English football, the FA are. And from the top right down to the lowest levels of football in this country the FA need to be fully behind a football revolution in this country. As Germany and Spain, arguably the two best teams in South Africa, have done in the past decade or so, the focus of the FA should be on football at a grass roots level, improving the quality of training and football education that children experience as soon as they begin to kick a ball.

English football is being restricted not by poor managers, or unmotivated players, but by the incredibly short termist attitude that exists in this country. As much as it may hurt for 15 years or so, if England wants to experience significant success, they will have to look to the future.

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