Miles Kington: Don't worry, John, there's a job just waiting for you

After Eriksson's reign, high-profile amorous escapades are expected of the England manager
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The Independent Online

Yesterday I said I would return to the subject of the Crucifixion as dealt with by satirists over the years, but lo in the middle of the night a voice said unto me that two days on the trot was a bit much, and I might well be afflicted with a plague of letters from readers, so why didn't I deal with something completely different, like the managership of the England football team?

And I pondered on these things and perceived that the voice was right, so here is the latest list of front runners to be the next England manager, together with current odds.

3/1 - Charles Clarke

Shortly to be available, Mr Clarke has proved himself a strong man who will not take any nonsense, a man who will not take no for an answer, a man who will not take yes for an answer, a man who will not take an answer, or indeed a question, who will not be swayed by reason or argument, who will not resign until he has to and not even then. A strong manager, a hard manager. If a player gets out of line, Mr Clarke will know what to do. Lock him up.

4/1 - John Prescott

After Eriksson's reign, high- profile amorous escapades are expected of the England manager. John Prescott's great selling point is that he has already got this out of his system and will be able to concentrate on the football. Footballers are said not to be great communicators, nor masters of correct English. Prescott has the knack of being able to relate to them on this level.

6/1 - John Birt

Known to be Tony Blair's favourite, on the grounds that if he gets the job he will have to leave Downing Street, Birt brings a wealth of experience to the post, or at least wealth. For the past five years he has been working in the corridors of power, yet no one knows what he has achieved. This kind of low-profile invisibility could be invaluable if England continues to fail to win the top prizes.

10/1 - Osama bin Laden

If you are going to have a foreigner to manage England, this would be the man, say the experts. Runs a small squad on a tight budget, and has always got results. Nobody has ever bettered him or even worsted him. President Bush of America said he was the man to beat, and he got nowhere near it. But would Mr Bin Laden consider the job? He is said to have sworn never to manage a non-Muslim team, and has even been overheard to wish to bring down Western civilisation, which may not be compatible with developing a good all-round squad with attacking defenders.

15/1 - Condoleezza Rice

Crazy name, crazy woman!

20/1 - Wayne Rooney

Has never managed a team in his life, but then, Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve Mclaren have spent most of their grown-up lives managing teams, and they're not much good at it either. If Rooney's foot keeps him out of the World Cup as a player, all the more reason to groom him now as a charismatic manager. His publishers agree. "If we are to get our insane advance back on his books," they say, "we need something insane to put into them. This could be it!"

25/1 - Melvyn Bragg

There is no reason to believe that this Renaissance man (author of football classic Twelve Boots that Shaped the World) could not add managership to his portfolio. Is not ashamed to get the right experts on the job if he does not understand what is involved. Has great understanding of cultural importance of football, and its place in the emerging economic strength of Cumbria in the inter-war period, as it moved away from an agricultural grounding to a more internationally conscious context, with all that implied for Carlisle Football Club, have I got that right, Professor?

40/1 - Sue Lawley

Would ask all the right questions, even if not listen to the answers...

Full list of hopefuls (David Blunkett, George Galloway, Carol Thatcher etc) on request.

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