England’s World Cup campaign continues with matches against Malta and Slovenia during the international break and the third manager in four months. Big Sam proved to be a greedy, small-minded opportunist who employed poor advisers but he probably doesn’t care as he trousered over £1.5 million for 67 days work. Gareth Southgate is the new man in charge, somebody who loves football but does not like the industry around the sport.
England would qualify from Group F with Wayne Rooney in goal, Joe Hart up front and Roy Hodgson in the holding midfield role. When Scotland away is your toughest fixture you know it’s a poor group from which two teams will automatically qualify. The downgrading of tournament finals will go to a new level if a proposal to involve 48 teams in the World Cup finals is accepted. Even the Scots would fancy their chances of qualifying under that format but the actual tournament would last three months.
The problem with England has never been qualifying but then they stink out tournaments. Southgate seems a sensible chap and won’t embarrass the blazers like Allardyce. However, will the players have lurking in the back of their minds that Southgate is best known for missing a penalty and not scoring screamers from 25 yards? When football came home for the Euros in 1996 Southgate missed the decisive penalty in the semi-final against Germany that ended the party.
The 2018 World Cup takes place in Russia and of all the wrong decisions made in the Blatter era awarding the biggest event in world soccer to the country is surely the worst. The World Cup should be a joyous occasion and maybe Russia will deliver but there must be more deserving hosts and not just for football matters. England can be backed at 20/1 which is about right because we are not very good!
A major issue with the England football team is that clubs in the Premier League see no benefits from a strong national side that does well in tournaments every two years. The league is dominated by foreign investment and most of the best coaches and players are from overseas and not qualified to play for England. In the context of the next World Cup France can build on a reasonably successful Euros and be world champions for the second time. Poland and Austria could be the dark horses but both bombed at the Euros having been fancied to cause an upset.
Southgate is the favourite to be the next permanent England manager followed by Arsene Wenger in the betting and somebody called Ralf Rangnick who I’ve not come across before. Good old Wikipedia tells me he is currently the Director of Sports of RB Leipzig which seems a bizarre recommendation for being the next manager of England. Wenger would have been a good choice ten years ago but at aged 66 his appointment is hardly looking to the future.
England should appoint a wise old head assisted by a young buck who can learn the job and take over in four to eight years. There are two perfectly suited Englishmen for these roles and they are called Glenn Hoddle and Eddie Howe. If you add to the mix a respected ex-pro who can liaise between the players and management you have a good team that will have a succession plan. Alan Shearer would be excellent in the player liaison role and he played under Hoddle for England.
Sam Allardyce may have been unlucky to lose his job because he was probably saying nothing that lots of people in the game did not know. However, as the head of the national team he had a responsibility to rise above the shady elements of football or at least not get caught on camera acting like Big Sam, keynote speaker! At least with Southgate you have a young man a lady could take home for tea with her parents. Howe is a similar individual but seems far too intelligent to be a football manager.
England will beat Malta and avoid defeat against Slovenia and with Scotland the group second favourites will qualify for the World Cup finals. The man who will be in charge in two years is not yet known and hopefully it will be Hoddle helped by Howe but it will probably be this Rangnick guy who nobody has heard of because the FA like being perverse and come across as more enlightened than the fans on the street!
Have a fantastic weekend!