Mila Kura Si Planina

25 November 2007

So, our football team failed to get the result they needed against Croatia and suddenly blokes up and down the country have a lot more free time next summer.

I actually think this is the best thing that could have happened. England were simply not good enough to emerge from their group in anything but third place: the standings accurately reflect the qualifying campaign. The manager simply wasn’t up to the task and the players didn’t seem to want to play.

There. I said it. You can almost hear it in chorus up and down the country. Steve McClaren just wasn’t up to the task.

Let’s face it, when your nickname is ‘Second Choice Steve’ you’re going to have a hard time convincing people that you’re the right man for the job. There can’t have been many surprised that he was sacked 12 hours after failing to qualify for Euro 2008 but I’ll admit I was a little surprised at his lack of integrity straight after the match — when asked if he was going to resign following the failure, he replied that he wouldn’t, despite the whole nation baying for his blood. Well, would you quit and walk away?

Or would you wait to be fired and pocket £2.5m?

The whole appointment of McClaren was flawed from the start, with various top-line candidates falling by the wayside as the weeks rolled on. Guus Hiddink felt insulted when the FA asked him for a coffee and a chat. Sam Allardyce confused poor Brian Barwick by shouting that the next England manager should be English whilst wearing a t-shirt saying “Me sir! Me sir!”. Luiz Felipe Scolari went all shy on us after news of his meetings with the FA became public knowledge.

And that left Steve McClaren. Brian Barwick maintained that Steve was always his first choice, something that didn’t seem to phase Steve himself:

“I don’t see it as a case of first choice or second choice. I am THE choice and I sit here as the next England coach.”

Spoken like man who can’t believe his luck.

So, this is England in late 2007. Steve is sacked and Barwick is on the lookout for a new manager.

How does that saying go, something about a ‘rudderless ship’?

Barwick must make the choice himself this time — no committees, no board meetings — just get the best man available. But who to ask?

Well, Martin O’Neill would be a good choice. But the FA pissed him off last time, so he appears to have ruled himself out. What about Jose Mourinho? He’d be an excellent choice. Can you imagine the press conferences after another lacklustre England display if he was in charge? No FA-sanctioned soundbites, just an honest appraisal of what happened. The perfect man-manager.

Yes, he could be at loggerheads with the FA at times. But if England are doing well, who on earth is going to care?

And I believe England would do very well under Mourinho.

As I said in September — if Brian Barwick has any sense he’ll be on the phone to Mourinho now.

Think it’ll happen? Nah, me neither.

(The title of this post is in honour of Tony Henry)

Tagged with Football

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