Gareth Southgate – Literally The Only Candidate

Four matches, three World Cup qualifiers, two wins and almost a win against the 2012 World Champions. On paper at least Gareth Southgate must be confident that he has passed his audition to be the next England football manager and in reality I would expect Southgate to be confirmed as Sam Allardyce’s successor by the end of the month.

Of the four matches it is fair to say England didn’t play well until the first hour against Spain, and we all know that England are much better in friendlies than we are when the chips are down, but Southgate collected enough of the currency by which all managers are ultimately judged, points, to ensure he will be given a decent run at trying to revive England’s fortunes.

However poisoned this particular chalice may be Southgate is the ideal man for this job, he knows the young players, who he will be forced to rely on as his reign progresses, from his time working with the age group England sides and he has been there and, almost, done it as a player himself. Yet despite all of his credentials there are always going to be those who say he is not the right man but I have to ask these naysayers the same question I asked when Sam Allardyce was caught trying to put his fingers into the pie, who else is there?

Arsene Wenger may have been an attractive option but as long as Arsenal are still challenging for honours he will not leave the Emirates and England need to appoint a replacement as soon as possible. Steve Bruce, thankfully, has found employment at Aston Villa and Alan Pardew’s star must surely have died as his team continue to play like relegation favourites. Outsiders like Glen Hoddle must surely be discounted due to the fact if they haven’t yet been approached by the FA they never will which leaves the man who oversaw Bournemouth’s victory against Stoke at the weekend, Eddie Howe.

I admit I like Howe but, like Wenger, I don’t think he would be ready just yet to leave the South Coast club and I fear his chances of ever being given the England job will depend on whether he is out of work when England comes calling again.

All of this leaves Southgate, as labelled recently by a former FA Chief Executive, the only candidate. How right that man is but not, as claimed, because he earnt it but because literally he is the only candidate.


Big Sam and The FA in “What Another Fine Mess”


If the allegations surrounding Sam Allyardyce by The Telegraph are found to be true the newly appointed England manager may be employed for about as long as Peter Taylor held the same role. The paper claims Big Sam was willing to accept around four hundred thousand pounds to offer advice on how to get around the rules on third party ownership, a practice that has been outlawed in the UK since 2008 and worldwide since last year.

Even if the allegations prove to be unfounded, if there is evidence that such a meeting did occur then Allardyce must surely be dismissed from the job he has always craved. In a world where he has seen the charges upon whose shoulders his job security has rested become richer and richer, the temptation to cash in must have been immense but Big Sam is being handsomely paid by his new employers and should have realised that any such golden cash cow was fraught with risk. If Sam did go to this meeting do you really want somebody so stupid managing the national team?

When Allardyce was appointed the media was exuberant because they finally got the man they wanted, he was English at a time of the Brexit and he had the no nonsense persona they craved after the fiasco of Hodgson. What is more the pundits all knew, and liked him, because most of them are players who have played for or against one of his teams, just like the FA who hired him the media in the UK has become nothing more than an old boys club. Now, after the Telegraph’s allegations, I wait with baited breath for the reaction from Big Sam’s one time supporters. Will the old boys club rally round one of their own or will they, like kids in a school playground, turn on him as they smell a weakness?

Whatever happens in the media, one organisation that needs to be held accountable is the FA, who may find the next few months to be a period of damage limitation. For an organisation that seems to be handing out fines every other week to players and managers for the crime of bringing the game into disrepute, this is a public relations nightmare and I suggest has brought more disrepute to the English Football brand than any incident in the last few years. Any company that hires a CEO would surely do their due diligence on their new employee but it seems the FA were less than thorough when carrying out this task. But maybe the suits at Wembley were too busy patting themselves on the back because of all the positive PR they were receiving in the British press.

Again, if the allegations are found to be true then it seems that the England team will be looking for their third manager in the space of six months and this time the FA needs to decide what is best for the growth of the English football team. Not what they think will be a popular choice or someone who has an impressive, yet irrelevant, CV. We do not need a manager who lets players do what they want on the pitch but one who devises the tactics and demands that they are implemented on the field. The current England squad is not one the best in Europe yet alone the world so it is time we stopped employing managers who are their friends and employ a manager who realises the players he selects are responsible for his job and so is willing to give them the bollocking they deserve when they don’t perform.

Some may say that Big Sam was this man but remember this is the manager who declared after the laboured performance against Slovakia that it was not up to him to say where Wayne Rooney should play!