They say 24 hours is a long time in football and there couldn’t be a better cliché to describe the goings on of Wednesday 8th February, a day I am renaming ‘Harry Redknapp day’. I started the day patiently waiting to hear the verdict of Redknapp’s tax evasion court case (not guilty if you didn’t know!) and finished the day listening to people talk about how Harry Redknapp would be the new England manager…such drama doesn’t even unfold this quickly on Eastenders, but for a real life Eastender, it certainly has.
Fabio Capello’s departure as England manager last night came as a bit of a shock; his meeting with the FA seemed to be something and nothing as reporters left Wembley in the early evening after Capello himself had sped away from the FA headquarters with seemingly no statement pending. Many thought there would be no drama and if anything, Capello would just a get slap on the wrist for his Italian interview on the John Terry saga. Before you could say ‘Ciao’, chaos had once again descended on the football world as the news of Capello’s resignation broke. For once, the speculation that Redknapp was in line for the England job after his not guilty verdict didn’t seem so idle. The two events coincided perfectly as the stars aligned to cast a scenario that is every journalists wet dream.
‘Arryvederci’ was the headline of the morning which no doubt kept the headline writers salivating on their pillows all night long in anticipation of such a beautiful, albeit obvious, pun hitting the newsstands earlier today. The real issues can often get lost in the headlines and speculation, so let’s touch on the incompetence of the FA before we get too carried away with fiction.
I will use a line from Laurel and Hardy to describe the FA’s actions over the past two weeks; ‘Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us (me) into’.
David Bernstein seems to have many supporters, he is seen as a strong leader and that ‘football man’ the FA has been crying out for in Chairmen gone by. But it is the big decisions that define a leaders tenure and he got the John Terry situation wrong. It is this that lead to Fabio Capello walking and plunged England in to further football uncertainty.
Fair play to Fabio, he did the right thing after he was completely undermined by not being one of the 40 FA board members consulted over the decision to strip Terry of the England captaincy. Capello saw things from a very common sense perspective; John Terry is innocent until proven guilty, this is a right we all have the privilege of, therefore Terry should remain available for selection as England Captain.
The Capello situation stinks of bad management by the FA and David Bernstein. You will not find too many managers that agree with their board members opinions (apart from maybe Arsene Wenger), there is a fundamental problem between managers and boards; managers are football men and boards are primarily made up of businessmen, plus the odd relic (Trevor Brooking in this case). Capello’s differing point of view with the FA is nothing new, such things happen on a weekly basis – it was the way the FA went about things that made Capello’s role untenable.
Do the FA care about losing Capello? No. They may have even wanted him out. The FA have a huge image problem on their hands and one easy way to fix that and make themselves more popular (and therefore more profitable) is to get a bit of buzz going again by appointing a people’s champion as new England manager – someone like Harry Redknapp.
The calls of ‘Redknapp for England’ started early and already son Jamie Redknapp has said Dad Harry is ‘the outstanding candidate’ for the Job. There have also been cries from players, fellow managers and the media for the appointment of Harry Redknapp. But does Harry want to pick up this poisoned challis?
Well apparently all this was planned; Redknapp only bought David Beckham over to train with Spurs last year so they could plot about England and how Harry could become manager, bring Becks back for one last swansong as captain and take over world football – that’s if you believe the conspirators. Do me a favour.
Harry Redknapp has already said it is a job that interests him and I agree with Jamie, he is the perfect candidate. His man management skills are second to none, his tactical nous is good enough, he is experienced, knows English players well and is approaching his twilight years. Harry Redknapp is the front runner for the England job by a Monaco mile.
There is a big BUT.
Redknapp has achieved very little in the way of silverware throughout his managerial career. He now has a good chance with Spurs, where he has built a team that is going places, who should qualify for next year’s Champions League and should be considered serious title contenders with a couple of quality summer additions if their current form lasts. Harry needs to ask himself ‘is it time to start winding down day-to-day?’.
No man is bigger than club or country, so what’s next for England?
On the pitch Psycho (Stuart Pearce) has been temporarily promoted to manager and will at least be in charge for the Holland game after being groomed by the FA under Capello. Off the pitch the search for Capello’s successor begins. Everyone expects Redknapp to come in, but it could be Pearce or even Hiddink. Could Redknapp even be England manager on a part time basis permanently? The rumours will continue.
Whoever the next England manager is will have one hell of a job on their hands. They have to transform an underachieving group of players in to champions in a short space of time. They will find themselves working for an organisation that is largely disliked, that have a history of bad decision making, struggle to communicate and seemingly have a lack of integrity. The good news is progress is slowly being made at the FA. For me Redknapp is the only man that can take on such a task and succeed, so good luck to him and all hail the new King, maybe a new dawn for English football is coming.
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