Sometimes, I’m not sure if the FA stands for the Football Association or F*** All. With Euro 2012 just three months away and Fabio Capello’s successor still little more than speculation, it seems that any faith in football’s unelected elders is equally as uncertain.
A series of own goals that would make even Jamie Carragher blush has seen a directionless national team with Stuart Pearce unscrupulously set up as scapegoat, and ex-captain John Terry allowed to shamelessly divide the dressing room.
Today, we look at why the sweet FA is just that. Okay, so it’s not the blazers who are running round on the pitch and underachieving. In fact, far from it. Aside from Sir Trevor Brooking, not one of the organisation’s leading figures has played football at professional level themselves. But it is the FA’s responsibility to provide players with the means by which to succeed; that is to say a top class coach and a grass roots system that allows the development of English stars over expensive foreign imports. At present, English football lacks both.
While ‘Psycho’ Stuart Pearce, who led Manchester City to the dizzying heights of 15th in 2006, tries to steady the good ship England, you can’t help but be cynical.
So what’s stopping the FA from finding Mr Right? Is it just not ready to move on? Are the scars from Capello just too deep to ignore? Man up. We have a competition to go to and a reputation to restore.
Of course, Harry Redknapp remains the obvious favourite for the vacant manager’s post, and with Spurs’ relative capitulation, the England job may prove a timely escape route from his tenure at White Hart Lane. Granted Spurs may yet fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, but Redknapp’s revolution since taking over in 2008 has seen him transform an ‘almost there’ club into one that, earlier on this season at least, could be considered genuine title contenders.
England, in more ways than one, are very much like Tottenham. An underachieving white-kitted team, in need of a stern handed officialdom, as well as an awareness of one’s own situation. Englishman Redknapp fits the bill perfectly, and it baffles me as to why the fat cats at Wembley have not made a move.
Redknapp offers a much needed familiarity to the England set up, as a manager who has already worked with many of the current squad at club level. He is not the type to experiment or gamble, nor is he the type to freeze out senior players; and according to ex Republic of Ireland Manager Johnny Giles, “80-90 per cent of successful management is about getting the right players in the team”, and is that not what the England job is all about? With no luxury of foreign imports, the England manager must find a system that works and breed consistency.
Redknapp has done this at club level and I see no reason why he cannot do it on the national stage as well. One would assume the remainder of Giles’ recipe for management would include motivation and inspiration. Again, Redknapp cannot be faulted as his inspiration saw lowly Portsmouth win the FA Cup in 2008 and even now amid a poor run of Tottenham form, he defiantly insists they will still pip Arsenal to 3rd in the league.
But still, he remains uncalled, and the FA stall on what I feel would be the best appointment since Sir Bobby Robson. And why? It seems out of some petty insistence that the fans should not make decisions.
The FA needs to act swiftly or risk becoming the Wolverhampton Wanderers of the international scene, and, to be honest, I don’t see Stuart Pearce taking his role as the fall guy as lightly as Terry Connor.