It’s been an interesting year for England in the run up to their 2006 World Cup campaign. I don’t want to labour the overworked and over publicised allegations about our controversial manager’s antics with a certain sheik. I would however point out that in England’s two most successful campaigns of the past two decades (1990 and 1996), controversy similarly marred the run-up to the respective tournaments.
Further, I feel that the manner in which the information was uncovered by the News of the World will gain the sympathy and support of the players and ultimately draw them together to give Sven a good send off. But what then?
Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishly, and Guus Hiddink are the tabloids’ favourite suitors for Sven’s job. Sam Allardyce – ‘Big Sam’ has a reputation for being a no-nonsense, solid manager. His shrewd purchases and motivational tactics have helped lift Bolton from the yo-yo team of old to become serious contenders for European football. Although his vision in the transfer market may not help us on the international scene, his level headed simplicity and ‘never say die’ attitude could give some of our galacticos a well deserved reality slap. It would be good for the England team, and the nation as a whole, to have a traditional, hardcore Englishman at the helm. A similar case could be made for the no-nonsense style of fellow-Englisman Alan Curbishley.
Guus Hiddink – ‘The Rejuvenator’ – managed to guide South Korea, to a World Cup semi-final for the first time in their history. He pulled the same trick again, guiding a troubled Australia side to the World Cup in Germany. He has an equally impressive resume in the domestic game, taking PSV Eindhoven to victory in the Champions League and to the Dutch league title. Are we too good for Guus? Perhaps a bit arrogant for a team who has not won a tournament since 1966.
At this point, I would like to also interject with my own suggestion. I feel that Jose Mourinho has been ignorantly overlooked. Think about it logically, he walked out of the stadium into the Chelsea job after just winning the European Cup. Chelsea are doing well in both the FA and Champions League and, let’s face it, have almost certainly won the league. A treble is on the cards. If this season goes to plan, what would be left for Jose at Chelsea? He is a real possibility for the top job in English football. He has worked wonders with Joe Cole, taking him from a timid, nervous young player bubbling with potential to a world-class player, an asset to any team. He has a unique ability to lift players and make them perform for him.
However, it was the action of a few weeks past that has had equal significance for my view of Jose. I admired Mourinho’s tough decision to suspend Cole for four days after making a crucial mistake through selfish play. He was brave enough to risk upsetting a big player to uphold the simple truth that is integral to the success of any football team: ‘nobody is bigger than the team.’ Jose can earn the respect and foster the skills of the world’s top players whilst still keeping them grounded. We have all the players to win major tournaments for years to come and have up-and-coming talent that can sustain this success for a long time. What we need is a manager to pick up and use this wealth of talent to a positive end, something Sven has done with only limited success. Who knows what the Football Association will do but for me, Jose should be our ‘Special One.’
By Sean Henderson