The Next England Manager
With Roy Hodgson likely to depart in 2016, who is in the frame to succeed him? by AtTheMatch
“For some it is the ultimate job, for others it is the last job”.
Kevin Keegan remarks on the poisoned chalice that is the role of England football team manager.
With Wayne Rooney’s 50th international goal still fresh in the memory, England supporters will have an opportunity to commemorate a less glorious half-century milestone as 2016 draws in. Come July it will be 50 years since England’s sole major tournament victory, and the smart money will be on the Three Lions extending that miserable drought by at least another two years come the denouement of that summer’s European Championships in France. The Euros is expected to be final engagement for Roy Hodgson as manager of the national team, given the FA hierarchy’s reticence to commit to any contractual talks with former Fulham, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion boss prior to the conclusion of the current campaign, as well a real lack of clamour from the press or public at large to seek an extension to the four years which Hodgson would have served at the helm by the time England kick-off their latest quest for inaugural continental glory across the channel.
Even if Hodgson’s clears his desk at FA headquarters at some point in the summer of 2016 without a winner’s medal around his neck, he can point to aforementioned players as an indication of the legacy he leaves for his successor. So who is the person to take the work forward? Typically with managerial roles, the gambling markets should be used as an informed guide and the bookies have Gary Neville as their favourite across the board to take over. As Hodgson’s current assistant, he will hold the advantage over his competitors of having already worked extensively in the national team set-up as both a celebrated player and coach. With his managerial teeth cut at Valencia – no small role for a first gig as a gaffer – Neville can point to experience as a no.1 in addition to the support role he plays to Hodgson. However, there may be a view he is one for the future and the assistant-to-manager progression hardly went well when last tried by the FA with Steve McClaren after Sven Goran Eriksson.
It is intriguing – and a mite refreshing it truth be told – to uncover that the majority of the bookies’ frontrunners for the England job are from these shores, and one such Englishman who has hardly been backward in coming forward to bang the jingoistic drum in support of a second successive home-grown supremo is Alan Pardew, currently exceeding expectations at Crystal Palace. Unlike Neville, Pardew can point to a wealth of management experience at several Premier League clubs. Whilst he has never taken up a blue-chip role of, say, a top-four club or even a Valencia, the Londoner has regularly over-achieved and will bring a clear modus operandi to bring out the best from an emerging set of players in order to topple the world’s elite.
Two recently sacked Premier League managers, both famed for their regenerative work done at a Welsh club, will also come into the reckoning. Brendan Rodgers, formerly of Swansea City and latterly Liverpool, is renowned for his desire to field sides with an ethos of attractive, as well as a dedication to youth stemming from his work at Chelsea’s academy. The Ulsterman has friends in high places, a decent CV for a manager of his age and is a masterful orator, yet the stigma of his struggles at Anfield post-May 2014 could put off the board of selectors at Wembley. One of Rodgers’ former charges at Swansea, Garry Monk, has been lauded as the bright young thing of English management, and acquitted well initially to being given the baptism of fire of opening his managerial account in the cut and thrust of the top flight, albeit at a club he served with distinction as a player for many years. Like his former boss Rodgers though, his dismissal by Swansea after an alarming drop in mid-season form may push his application further down the in-tray.
It can only be encouraging that so many positive home-grown individuals are being touted for what is still a highly prestigious role, yet the writer’s personal will be a man, who despite an innate knowledge of English football is no more English than paella. Roberto Martinez has worked his way up the league pyramid both as a skilful player and even more adept manager on these shores, and is further boosting his credentials with a superb team at his disposal at Everton, with John Stones and Ross Barkley at the forefront of his side, as well as potential stars of the national team for many years to come. Unlike Eriksson and Fabio Capello, Martinez will bring with him several years of Premier League management experience to the table, an eye for attractive – and winning – football, big-club blessing and excellent standards of knowledge. He could potentially hold the role of England for a decade and could well be the right man to succeed Hodgson and end all those years of hurt for his adopted country.Click here to stay up to date with AtTheMatch