I do dislike football opinions, which is why it’s all the more embarrassing that I’m returning to them on an almost-daily basis in recent weeks. It’s probably because there’s no football on today, so I have to fill the void with the sound of my inane, faux-informed prattle to make it all easier to get through. But hey – everyone has opinions on this whole England management stuff, right?
Now I don’t think Fabio Capello should be sacked. That would be the reactionist lunacy of most of the British public, not the reasoned judgement of someone who knows better (and who is also modest). One man does not account for failures of such magnitude as those displayed by the England national team, and a man of such proven managerial talents – in club football, this is – simply cannot be dismissed as “a bit shit” when he doesn’t immediately win everything in his first couple of years in charge.
But let’s go to hypothetical land here: Capello is sacked. Who should replace him? There has been much talk of many different people and many different approaches, but I would like to present my theory on one particular area: the personality manager.
The likes of David Beckham, Alan Shearer and Stuart Pearce have been dropped into the fray when talking about who would take over now Capello has gone (hypothetical land, remember). They have all been dismissed by many as the wrong choices: two failed club managers and a bloke with nice hair and no managerial experience whatsoever. ‘We should opt for someone with a proven club record, like “Lovely” Roy Hodgson or Harry “Cuttin’ Me Own Throat” Redknapp’, they say. But I disagree.
You see, I think the likes of Beckham, Shearer and – especially – Pearce would be just what England need. I don’t mean this solely for England, either – I mean it for international management in general. Managers who can rely on their aura, their reputation and their proven passion to win a game are surely far more suited to the part-time, transitory medium of management that comes with the international game.
The likes of Capello, Mourinho, Ferguson et al are obviously great managers, but I honestly do not think they can succeed on the international stage with the styles they maintain. Each works on a long-term basis of gaining trust and confidence in the players, getting them used to their brand of management and discipline and moulding a team as a single unit, ready to take on the league/world/whoever.
But this is something that takes constant contact – daily management. International management offers a few days to a few weeks at a time of having your squad assembled, stretched across ten or so games in a year. It’s not enough for trust to be earned, for discipline to be enforced or for a whole, cohesive unit to be moulded. That takes years; these guys have days.
Which is why I think the past stars are the route to go. As much as I laughed at the suggestion of Beckham as manager, I can see some logic in it. Tactically he could turn out to be a moron, true, but there would be no doubting his passion – and that would bleed out into the players, of that there is no doubt. The guy demands respect (until he opens his mouth), as does Shearer, as does Pearce, and each have shown through their playing careers that they would quite likely lay down their lives for the three lions… well, that one is mainly Pearce, but you get the point.
This ‘impact’ style of management is something that I think is far more suited to the international world. It’s a job that requires instant results and so it’s a job that relies on managers who can evoke instant confidence, instant passion – managers who don’t go for long-term results, but short-term inspiration. Look at Klinsmann in the last World Cup, or Maradona this time around – or even Van Basten, to a lesser extent. All legends in their respective countries, all capable of igniting the fire inside their players – be it down to tactical effectiveness or just shouting “I AM A FUCKING LEGEND IN THIS COUNTRY, IMPRESS ME!” at them.
Fabio Capello, shouting at his players in broken English after they’ve failed to grasp the particulars of his well thought-out and nuanced tactical decisions will do nothing but confuse and annoy players. Stuart Pearce showing his Euro ’96 face when England are on the back foot will make them fight for the (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) pride of their nation.
But yes, just sayin’.