Great About This Job
American evangelist Billy Graham would struggle to sell the England
manager's job. It's a hard enough task when things are relatively rosy. But
given the current problems, it is no wonder potential candidates are queuing
up to distance themselves.
I have been saying for a long time that people expect too much from the
England side because to be rated a great team, you need seven or eight
high-quality players. And England simply do not possess them
I'm not saying
the current team are bad players, but in international football you have to
move on to a different level. Technically, you have to be about 95percent
the finished article and I'm afraid the majority of them aren't at that
So the incoming manager faces a real nightmare. Of course, the right tactics
and systems come into it. If a team are organised on and off the ball, it is
a big advantage. But players must be able to pass the ball accurately from A
to B, and the technique to control it quickly. The simple fact is that the
bulk of English players are found wanting in those areas.
People talk of a conveyor belt of talented youngsters coming through, but if
that is the case - and I'm not convinced - they will mature too slowly to
help England's qualifying hopes for the World Cup. It leaves the new manager
with a big dilemma: does he sacrifice qualifying for Korea and Japan in 2002
and blood a new young team instead and let them develop for Euro 2004 and
the 2006 World Cup? Or, while there is still a chance of qualifying, does he
still go for it by making the best of what England have?
I believe the FA, the players, the public and the media would want everyone
to try his hardest to qualify for 2002. There is too much at stake for the
game in this country to write off the chance to play in the World Cup
You could pick an exciting, young squad now of 13 or 14 players all 25 or
under: Richard Wright or Nick Weaver in goal; Wes Brown, Jonathan Woodgate,
Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry as a back four; Kieron Dyer, David Beckham,
Paul Scholes, Steve Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Lee Bowyer and Joe Cole to
contest the midfield positions; Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Robbie Fowler up
But I would not name a team from that collection yet, and I don't believe
the new manager would, either. For starters, they would be suspect,
defensively ... and everyone knows my opinion of kids. Talking about a lack
of talent on the pitch, it is also a sad indictment of English football that
the only Englishman with the right managerial credentials is Terry Venables.
Whether the FA goes for him remains to be seen, but where is the
alternative? I don't believe appointing a foreign coach is a good idea. The
new manager must be able to convey his ideas and tactics and leave the
players in no doubt what is expected of them. In turn, they must understand
those tactics and take them on board.
You got the feeling with Kevin Keegan that although the players liked him
immensely, maybe he didn't express his tactics with the necessary conviction
to make his squad sit up and say: "Hey, he's spot-on there."
The goal conceded against Germany wasn't down to tactics, however, but basic
errors, but I wonder how the decision to play Gareth Southgate in midfield
went down with the other players. When I heard the team I couldn't believe
Why no Paul Ince or Dennis Wise, players past their best but used to playing
in that position? If Kevin had been thinking of quitting, I feel he should
have gone after Euro 2000 or after the Finland game and not in between. But
although there were several mitigating factors, England should still have
performed better in Helsinki against a poor Finnish team.
It is a sign of how far England have fallen that Albania's win over Greece
was cause for celebration. Although Germany are favourites to win the group,
England can still qualify, via second place and the play-offs. But if they
do, don't believe they can go on to win the Cup. It is time for reality