Sport on TV: We are in alien territory if the England manager is successful

As the comedian Al Murray said on How To Be England Manager (BBC4, Wednesday): "The Americans must have an alien in a warehouse somewhere who could manage the England team." Given that winning a tournament is about as likely as the discovery of extra-terrestrial life, it could turn out a happy coincidence.

Everyone has advice to offer, and there was a bewildering array of it on this programme. Of the previous incumbents, only Sven Goran Eriksson and Graham Taylor gave us the inside track, though there was a brief visitation from Glenn Hoddle's spiritual guru Eileen Drewery before she returned to her spaceship.

Fabio Capello did not make an appearance, presumably because he still can't speak English. After four years on a reported £6m salary, his inability to communicate in any meaningful way led to disaffection as much as the team's displays, and it emerges in retrospect that the Eriksson reign was one of the best – and the Steve McClaren rain was the worst. The latter's subsequent adoption of a Dutch accent showed he was a Johnny Foreigner all along.

Perhaps Sven is merely seducing us in our hindsight with that well-documented charm of his. "The important thing is that you treat people in the right way," he said, no doubt patting the interviewer gently on the knee. Of the players he added: "They show respect if you don't stand in front of them talking shit." Or Italian, it seems. He added: "It was a big, big, big laugh." Hang on, that's not the way it's supposed to be; you have to suffer under the burden of 60 million people's expectations.

The thing is, do we subconsciously want to lose in cruel circumstances, as seems to happen every time, so that we can have a tormented figure to hate? If that man isn't a foreigner, then we'll turn him into something else – a vegetable perhaps.

Unlike Sven, who appears in no way haunted by his experiences, old turnip head Taylor still feels the pain and talks about it as compulsively as the Ancient Mariner. "I'm not bitter, I'm just bloody disappointed," he said bitterly. "I live with that and I have had to learn to live with it because that's what it meant to me."

Here's a man who, unlike the foreigners who just drift away, has become defined by his failure and can't escape it. Perhaps Roy Hodgson, with his experience of foreign parts, can discover a happy medium. So long as it's not Eileen Drewery again.

* It was a welcome diversion, in these days of pampered footballers who can barely bring themselves to play for their country, to see on Euros' Most Shocking Moments (BBC4, Wednesday) that England warmed up for Euro 88 by playing against Aylesbury Town. It didn't do them any good, of course. They won that one, but went on to lose every group game and came straight home again.

Perhaps they should have taken the excellently named Clint Hercules with them instead of a seriously ill Gary Lineker. Clint scored 301 goals for Aylesbury over 18 years, but still bemoans the fact that he missed a sitter of a header against England.

After watching Panorama (BBC1, Monday) with its footage of hooliganism and racist assaults on the terraces of Ukraine, it seems likely that there will be a few more shocking moments to include in the next compilation in four years' time.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Digital Printing Trainee / Computer Graphics

£8000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have an interest in compu...

Recruitment Genius: Content / Copy Writer

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has bec...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee with experience in science communication

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: The Society for Expe...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin