First Clough, then Redknapp, will the FA EVER listen?
- Credit: PA
Give ‘Big Sam’ the England job – that’s my call.
Sam Allardyce would be the man I would put in charge of that listless bunch we saw trawling round the pitch in Nice – and while you are at it, make Harry Redknapp his No.2.
England’s pathetic exit from this year’s Euros should be a watershed for the future of our national game – and it needs tough, no-nonsense man managers, not cone-loving coaches to take the team forward. We’ve quite frankly all had enough.
Forget the prawn sandwiches, ability to speak a foreign language, bibs, baths (warm or ice), six-star hotels, playing from the back, lap tops, marker boards and sports drinks, and all the other completely erroneous things that do absolutely nothing to make players better, or football managers decent.
Football is a simple, working class game which has been hijacked by too many toffs, suits, egos and aristocrats, who may know how to run business, collect badges and write 24,000 word ‘state of the nation’ reports but have no idea how to manage a football team.
The vast majority of footballers in the country come from working class backgrounds. By the time they play for England they are invariably good players.
They need to be managed by people they can call their own, people they can have respect for and communicate with.
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That is a skill, don’t underestimate it – in fact it’s more of a skill than being able to rabbit on about the advantages or disadvantages of the ‘false No.9’ or the 4-3-1-2!
While Allardyce and Redknapp are hardly working class now, they come from those backgrounds, they know what it is to have to fight your way to the top of their profession.
I’m currently reading a book, ‘His Way’, the Brian Clough story, by Patrick Murphy.
It’s not new but those of you who remember Clough, know he was quite a character.
As a football manager he was a genius – despite the extremes of one minute ranting, the next loving – players wanted to play for him.
He did not suffer fools gladly and could smell BS before it walked in the room.
Despite taking provincial clubs like Derby to the title and later Forest to two European Cup victories, he was everything the Football Association at the time were suspicious of.
Clough could manage footballers – but his manner was never the FA’s cup of tea. He never got the England job, despite having an interview.
The one time he went for it, in 1977, the genial and gentle Ron Greenwood got it instead – Greenwood was far more of an FA man, but was again unsuccessful.
Indeed the highpoint during his five-year tenure was getting England to the second round of the World Cup finals in 1982.
Sound familiar? Today the FA are still at it.
Roy Hodgson was never England’s best choice for manager in 2012 – Redknapp was and everyone knew it.
But, like Clough, Redknapp is not a conformist or suit, and certainly not part of the ‘establishment’ – nor does he speak Russian or Chinese (or any other language that might tick an FA box). The fact that Redknapp, in 2012, and Clough 40 years ago would have made fantastic England managers is – and was – completely lost on the FA, the pair simply didn’t fit the stodgy criteria.
So now, guess what? Gareth Southgate is the bookies’ favourite to take over at FA HQ. Incredible.
I was lucky enough to meet Gareth at St George’s Park just recently. I was with my Woodbridge U16s and we spoke to Gareth, who was polite, articulate and a real gentleman – the perfect FA mould.
A very good footballer too of course . . . but can he manage a football team of working class lads? Leave Gareth with the U21s for now and go for Allardyce.
Here is a man who won’t take any prisoners, but will know what the hell he actually wants to do with his players.
Just like Martin O’Neill cleverly got Roy Keane on board at the Republic of Ireland, knowing the input Keane (hardly a conformist) would have on his squad – an Allardyce/Redknapp partnership could serve England well.
Football is a passionate game.
Watch the antics of Antonio Conte on the sidelines when Italy play Germany on Saturday night.
His actions reflect a nation and while I don’t expect Allardyce to burst a blood vessel on the touchline, like Conte, at least I know in the sanctuary of the dressing room, players will have no hiding place from ‘Big Sam’ and Harry – cups thrown, laptops lobbed into the showers, prawn sandwiches stuffed where the sun doesn’t shine!
Of course I can dream – because it isn’t going to happen.
As another generation of English young boys and girls grow up disillusioned and having no pride in their country’s football team, I feel sad.
One day the people will be listened to. One day the tide will turn.