‘Urry up Harry?

Travelling England fan and co-founder of www.philosophyfootball.com Mark Perryman speculates on what next for England

Last week I argued on this website that via model of indecisive action the FA were creating an unholy mess for themselves and the England team. But even I in my worst nightmares never thought it would come to this.

Lets’ start with the bare essentials. The England captain is accused of racially abusing a fellow player. A serious enough offence surely to necessitate a swift, but just response. And so when after a delay of 4 months the case finally comes to court to set a date for the trial we might have expected leadership from the FA to ensure that the case came to trial at the end of February during the international week when no league games would be played. Instead, in the absence of any such leadership from the FA, Chelsea and Terry’s Defence were allowed to make the entirely spurious case that he, and other witnesses, could not be spared from their club’s League campaign (there are a further 3 weeks in the season when neither Chelsea or QPR have any Mon-Fri league games) resulting in the case being delayed until 9 July. An extraordinary 10 months after the alleged offence took place.

From this lack of leadership by the FA, the absence of any obvious pressure on Terry or Chelsea to have the case tried and settled, everything falls apart. Capello? Since Bloemfontein he’s been damaged goods. The FA prior to a disastrous World Cup 2010 made their usual serial error, extending an expensive and binding contract when they don’t need to.  Since 2010 the best we can say of Capello is that he has staged some sort of recovery from the disastrous reign of McLaren, latterly brought in a few youngsters, and been the first to recognise the inestimable qualities of Scott Parker too.

His reaction to Terry losing the captaincy I would put down to three factors. First he was speaking to his own Italian media, in his own language. Time and again foreign players and managers are looser with their tongue in their own language to their own media. Second , he’s of a generation, 64 years old, that mostly doesn’t take racism as seriously as newer generations. Third, prior to England he had only managed in Italy and Spain, countries where racism isn’t taken as seriously as in England. None of this is to suggest Capello is a racist, but he didn’t understand the issues at stake in this unraveling saga.

Now we have the populist clamour for Harry Redknapp to take over. Let’s not forget the last time the media and fans’ favourite got the England job, it was Kevin Keegan. And the last time the English-only may apply sign went up, Steve McLaren. Not a great track record.

In fact we now have the near-perfect situation. Redknapp is currently leading Spurs to what looks like their best season in decades. There is one England friendly before the season ends. And few expect England to win Euro 2012, getting out of a tough group would be a good performance in itself. Harry says he has always wanted the England job. So give it to him, part-time, contract to the end of the Euros. At the end of the Championship England can make up their mind if Harry is up to the job and Harry can decide if he fancies it full time. The worst possible decision would be a snap, permanent appointment on a contract through to 2014 or beyond. In June/July the world’s best managers will be available, the choice will be infinitely bigger than just Harry, or Hiddink.

And as a man of honour, surely, he wouldn’t want to walk out on Spurs in the position they are in (don’t answer, Southampton and Portsmouth fans!). Personally I feel he’s vastly over-rated, he’s won one trophy in his entire managerial career, and when Spurs came up against Real Madrid, they were thrashed, without scoring. But a part-time, temporary appintment would do a lot to settle the fear that media hype and fan clamour isn’t the best way to select an England manager.

And does it have to be an Englishman? In my view UEFA and FIFA should have the same nationality rules for managers as players. But until they do the only candidate for the England job should be the best manager available. My choice, short of Harry getting us to the semis, is Pepe Guardiola, after Barca winning the Champions League for the second time in succession he’ll be looking for a new challenge.

Mark Perryman