Players want England coach to be English

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The Independent Football

More than two-thirds of England players want Sven Goran Eriksson's successor to be English, an exclusive survey by The Independent reveals.

The poll, which is ongoing, is being conducted in association with the Professional Footballers' Association and has sought opinions from every professional in the English game on a wide range of issues.

The interim findings show that 60 per cent of all players, regardless of nationality or division, want their national team to be managed by a compatriot. Taking only English players into consideration, that figure rises to 67 per cent in the Premiership, and to a peak of 68 per cent among top-flight English players who have been capped.

Every player was asked: "Do you think the manager of your national team should be from your country?" English players were asked the specific question: "Do you think that the next manager of England should be English?"

Among more than 300 respondents so far, 28 are current Premiership players who have played for England. Of those, 19 players, or 67.8 per cent, said they wanted an English manager in charge of England. The remainder are not against an Englishman, but do not see it as a prerequisite, as the majority do.

The survey's pro-Englishman findings are notable because they reflect the views of players who responded before the News of the World's "fake sheikh" sting led Eriksson's stock to drop. While they are not a judgement on Eriksson's reign, they are far from a ringing endorsement of the Swede's time in charge. The Football Association is considering a range of candidates to succeed Eriksson, with Sam Allardyce, Steve McClaren and Alan Curbishley heading a home contingent, up against the likes of the Northern Irishman Martin O'Neill, the Dutchman Guus Hiddink and the Brazilian "Big Phil" Scolari.

The survey has been conducted on a confidential basis, but Michael Owen, a first-choice pick under Eriksson, is among those who has expressed a public preference, if possible, for an English successor.

"I think that everyone would want the manager to be the best man for the job and if he is English then that will be double satisfaction because that would be great," he said.

Alan Shearer has echoed the view. "People will say he should be English but we want success," he said. "Ideally it would be with an Englishman, though."

Every single Brazilian, French, Italian and Dutch player to have responded to The Independent's survey so far has expressed a desire for their own national teams to be managed by fellow countrymen. Among Scottish players, 90 per cent would prefer a compatriot, while the comparative figure drops to 53 per cent among Welsh players, 50 per cent among Northern Ireland players and 44 per cent among Republic of Ireland players.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, said yesterday that it was "encouraging" that such a large body of English players support the view that the FA should hire an Englishman.

"We all appreciate that club football is cosmopolitan, and there are things to celebrate in that, like the fact that English clubs will provide more players, of more nationalities, to this summer's World Cup than any other country," he said.

"But surely international football is a test of a country's resources, and not just players, but managers. We're not a poor country with a lack of resources, a lack of coaches, a lack of management structure and training. We're not a little nation, starting out, looking outside for expertise as we develop our game. It's a sad indictment if we can't find an English manager to manager our national football team."

The League Managers' Association had also called for an English successor to Eriksson, although one of its brightest prospects, Stuart Pearce, broke ranks yesterday to say nationality was not the most important factor. The 43-year-old Manchester City manager, who won 78 England caps and is an avowed patriot, has distanced himself from the post, saying he is too inexperienced. But he said yesterday: "The only criteria the FA should work to is picking the best man for the job. There was a lot of kerfuffle when Sven took over, with people saying it should be an Englishman but I don't go along with that.

"I have no preference whatsoever, whether it is an Englishman or a foreign coach. There is bound to be a lot of speculation but all the FA have to do is sit back, look at all the options and pick the right man, which they have done on many occasions before now.

"Whoever it is, he won't be everyone's cup of tea but if they are successful in the long term, they will eventually win people over."

Neither Bolton's Allardyce, who is the bookmakers' favourite, nor Charlton's Curbishley have made any attempt to play down their candidacies, but both men insisted yesterday that their club jobs are their sole focus.

"Being the bookies' favourite is something I appreciate as it seems to be from the people's point of view," Allardyce said. "There again it is just about me focusing on what I need to do. That is getting positive results for Bolton.

"I want to be quiet about [the England role] and get on with my job and not let anything detract from that. The speculation has been a distraction, especially this week. It is time to move on."

Exclusive Independent poll of professional players in England

1: Specifically for English players, do you think that the next manager of England should be English?

Premiership: Yes 67% No 33% *

Championship: Yes 60% No 40%

League One: Yes 64% No 36%

League Two: Yes 50% No 50%

Total: Yes 60% No 40%

* Of the Premiership's English respondents, 28 have played for England, and 19 of those want England's next manager to be English

2: Do you think the manager of your national team should be from your country? (Overall totals, regardless of nationality)

Premiership: Yes 60% No 40%

Championship: Yes 60% No 40%

League One: Yes 61% No 39%

League Two: Yes 57% No 43%

All players: Yes 60% No 40%

3: Do you think the manager of your national team should be from your country? (Ranked in order of highest percentage of respondents replying 'Yes')

Nationality % wanting a 'home manager'

Brazilian 100

French 100

Italian 100

Dutch 100

Scottish 90

English 60

Welsh 53

Australian 50

Bulgarian 50

N Irish 50

South African 50

Rep Ireland 44

Portuguese 33

American 33

Danish 33

* Countries where no respondents thought a 'home manager' was a prerequisite: Canada, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Trinidad & Tobago, Switzerland. Some other players withheld their nationalities, or described themselves only as 'British' or 'overseas'. The results above include only those who identify a specific nationality. Others gave a nationality but did not answer this specific question