There were misgivings when the Football Association appointed a manager with a strange accent and an imperfect grasp of the English language, but in Brian Glanville's estimation Alf Ramsey became the best of England's 12 full-time man-agers to date "by a nautical mile". In his long journalistic career, Glanville has not only observed them at work but has also known them well too. He is not a man plagued by self-doubt, yet his analysis is hard to fault – Don Revie was "almost pathologically thin-skinned", Graham Taylor was "tactically compromised", Terry Venables was appointed "too late" and Steve McClaren was the "reductio ad absurdum of England managers". He expresses his views in elegant style, spiced (some would say a little too richly) with a sprinkling of Italian phrases. It comes as no surprise to learn he has known Fabio Capello "for some 35 years", and is a fan. Let us hope his judgement of the present incumbent is as acute as his view of the previous 11.
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