England manager (again)

Another annoying thing in the England manager discussion, linked to the previous post, is the tendency of England fans and commenters to swing to extremes when looking for a new manager. FouFourTwo editor Gary Parkinson sums it up:

“Robson’s too old, get a young manager! Taylor’s too introverted, get a people’s champion! Venables is too East End, get an apparently polite chap! Hoddle’s too introverted, get a people’s champion! Keegan’s too passionate, get an ice-man! Eriksson’s too foreign, get an Englishman! McClaren’s too player-ruled, get a disciplinarian!”

Now, we need someone less distant and more communicative than Capello, and someone who can connect with the fans and media (no surprise this is classified as a particularly important quality by the media).

This leaves Harry Redknapp in the frame. The media love him because he is a great ‘character’, with his just-your-average-bloke manner and simple, quotable way of putting things. The media knows he is a manager who would generate lots of news headlines: perhaps this is why they are so keen for him to get the job. He is a successful club manager, almost certainly the most successful English manager at the moment: the first since Bobby Robson to finish in the top 4 and the first English manager since Joe Royle in 1995 (for Everton) to win the FA Cup (no English manager has ever won the Premiership).

The FA could certainly do worse than appoint Redknapp, but is he really the perfect fit he is being made out to be? Redknapp has only managed club sides before (like Capello, McClaren, Eriksson and Keegan when they took the England role). Seeing the team every six weeks or so, then being with them 24-7 at a tournament, is different to the day job of a club manager. One of Redknapp’s (in)famous attributes is being a [bad language in the link – be warned] ‘wheeler-dealer’ (how successful he is at that is another debate). Redknapp likes to create his own team through buying lots of players. In the England job, although he would be free to experiment from a large pool of players, you can’t buy in.

Furthermore, the fortunes of managers rise and fall fairly quickly. Think of Roy Hodgson, who had an almost meteoric rise in reputation after a good season with Fulham so was supposedly the leading candidate a while ago. This changed after his miserable time at Liverpool.

Another interesting concern about Redknapp not really picked up by the media in the last few days relates to his extraordinary claims in court. He described himself as the “most disorganised person in the world”, who  writes “like a two year-old” and so doesn’t keep anything. He also said he “can’t spell”, “can’t work a computer”, doesn’t “know what an email is”, has “never even sent a text message” and has “never wrote a letter”. Some of this was perhaps said for effect, and whether true or not it doesn’t seem to hinder Redknapp’s ability to manage successfully, but this is still surely worrying for “the ultimate job”.

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