Sam Wallace: FA's search for Capello's token Englishman is turning from a solution into a problem
There is an assumption that working for the national team is an honour no Englishman could pass up. But it is hard to see too many benefits
Monday 01 November 2010
Wanted: English coach to work with struggling team. Must be prepared to fit in at the base of a substantial Italian hierarchy. Boss can be temperamental. Does not speak English fluently and is liable to throw you out of the dugout/ order you to sit down at any moment. And you can forget being appointed to the top job in 2012.
The search goes on for an Englishman to work as part of Fabio Capello's team and when you look at the spec the immediate thought that comes to mind is: don't all rush at once. No wonder Sir Trevor Brooking has given himself until Christmas to fill the role. Capello's only stipulation is that the man in question must commit himself to the end of Euro 2012 – provided England qualify – which means he has to promise he will not decamp for a better offer.
Given that the very nature of being an out-of-work manager means you have to take jobs when they come along, that immediately makes the likes of Gareth Southgate and Alan Curbishley think twice. It is a big commitment for any manager to promise that he will forsake all other jobs for 18 months. Even Capello might struggle with that. Moreover, the prospect of joining Capello's small army of tracksuited assistants – including a general manager, one fitness coach, two goalkeeping coaches, the old guy who puts the cones out before training and enough masseurs to staff a large spa resort – is not the most attractive prospect.
The chain of command around Capello has always been hard to fathom at the best of times. If Capello has something important on his mind he might tell his general manager, Franco Baldini, who might tell Italo Galbiati (cones), who might mention it to Massimo Neri (fitness), who could give the nod to Franco Tancredi (goalkeeping). With a bit of luck one of them might deal in Stuart Pearce (part-time). And if you happen to be the new English coach, Psycho might tell you. Provided he is not away with the Under-21s at the time.
This one is not Capello's idea. He has been told by the Football Association that the post will be created and that filling it will be Brooking's responsibility. Given Capello's diminished standing post-World Cup, he did not feel he could turn it down. But the longer it goes on the more you wonder whether a plan which originally had the best intentions might end up becoming a problem for the FA.
There is still an assumption that working with the national team is an honour that no Englishman could pass up. But it is hard to see many benefits, for an experienced out-of-work manager with ambitions of getting back into the game, of being a part-time No 6 in a Capello regime that has no intention of staying beyond Euro 2012.
The motivation was obvious: in the aftermath of a dismal World Cup, public opinion inevitably swung back in favour of an English manager for the England team. The small problem for the FA was that England still had an Italian coach whom it had decided not to sack. So being unable to make any material change the decision was taken to make a cosmetic one. Just one problem: who?
When the plan was originally mooted by Brooking in mid-September, Curbishley, Southgate and Paul Ince were mentioned. Since then Ince has accepted the manager's job at Notts County amid suggestions he turned the FA down. Curbishley said in an interview with The Independent last month that he had not been approached. Southgate has carved out a decent punditry career.
The second tier of names who have been linked to the job has included Brian McDermott (Reading), Aidy Boothroyd (Coventry City), Kenny Jackett (Millwall) and Sean O'Driscoll (Doncaster). There is no disputing the good work done by all of them, but managing in the Football League is a relentless, precarious business and international week is supposed to be a bit of respite for them.
It is a small yet significant point that, although both were born in England, O'Driscoll played for the Republic of Ireland and Jackett for Wales. England could not find an Englishman to manage their team three years ago so they turned to Capello. He in turn selected an entire back-room staff of Italians. Now that the only English representative aside from the part-time Pearce is to be a token coach on glorified work experience, could we at least make sure he is English?
That is the problem for the FA. An innocent, well-meaning idea to appoint an English coach to the England set-up has created the potential for embarrassment. As for the English Premier League managers – those most likely to have a chance of succeeding Capello – none seems to want it either.
Of course, the FA could give it to David Beckham. He would turn up loyally for every international break and the fans love him. But what sort of message would that send out to the largely unheralded coaches who embark each year on the FA's Uefa Pro-Licence course seeking the qualifications that the governing body says all top managers should attain?
Brooking keeps stressing it should not be assumed that whoever is picked to be Capello's new token Englishman is going to be the next England manager. But that became obvious ages ago. We are just waiting to find out if there is anyone out there who actually wants this job.
When armchair refs need to brush up on the rules
The problem with controversial incidents such as Luis Nani's goal against Tottenham at Old Trafford is that those who lambast the referee do not know the rules and by the time they catch up the poor old ref has already been hanged, drawn and quartered.
Mark Clattenburg saw Nani's handball and played the advantage because Heurelho Gomes had the ball in his hands and Spurs were 1-0 down. Gomes knew he had made a mistake putting the ball down. You could see that by his reaction as Nani approached. And the only reason linesman Simon Beck flagged later on was to indicate that he needed to speak to Clattenburg, not, as was suggested on Match of the Day, because he panicked. Simple, when you know the rules.
With Adebayor, it's more likely he couldn't care less
The pat response from managers when their players argue among themselves on the pitch is that at least it shows they care. With Emmanuel Adebayor no one bothers with that flimsy defence because it happens too often to be a coincidence.
At Arsenal it was Nicklas Bendtner with whom he clashed. On Saturday against Wolves it was with Vincent Kompany. With his team struggling and Adebayor standing in for Manchester City's most influential player, Carlos Tevez, the last thing they needed was their centre-forward calling it on with their centre-back. You could make the tired old case that it was because Adebayor cares too much, but history tells us that when it comes to this player that probably isn't the case.
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