England: Would you welcome Arsene Wenger as England manager?
England take on the might of Montenegro tonight in a game that could seal their place at Euro 2012, however most of the talk building up to the match has been about who will follow in the footsteps of the Italian Fabio Capello after the tournament in Poland and Ukraine. Will it be everyone’s favourite wideboy Harry Redknapp? What about West Ham’s sports science geek Sam Allardyce? Or how about the Special One, Jose Mourinho?
They are all fantastic managers and are all right up there in the bookies’ list to take on the world’s most demanding job. However could the challenge of making England a nation of winners again appeal to under-fire Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger? The Frenchman is being touted for the role by former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and even during this alarming dip in form at the Emirates no-one can deny that Wenger is an amazing manager.
Wenger’s record in England is phenomenal. He’s won almost every trophy going at Arsenal, went a whole season undefeated and has a way of nurturing young talent into world class stars. He also sends his teams out to attack and entertain, although that philosophy hasn’t worked so well recently – the 8-2 drubbing at Manchester United comes to mind.
However, having underperformed under a Swede and an Italian in charge, would you allow a Frenchman in charge of your national team?
A number of pundits and former players have been crying out for an Englishman to be handed the national post. They have the passion for the country and know what winning at Wembley means to the fans. Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher this week told talkSPORT that it is an embarrassment for England to have a foreign manager. Personally I think Carragher should take a closer look at his own embarrassing displays over the past 12 months.
However, how many English managers have actually won silverware in the past two decades? Steve McClaren instantly springs to mind. He won the League Cup with Middlesbrough, but failed miserably with England. Next on the list is Harry Redknapp. He won the FA Cup in 2008 with Portsmouth and guided Spurs to the Champions League. He has assembled a talented squad at White Hart Lane with a good nucleus of English talent and proved he can mix it with the best in Europe. Could he be the next man for the job?
Of course that question is a complexed one to answer as most of the big clubs seem to refuse to give English talent a chance to prove themselves in the dugout. Harry Redknapp is the only English boss in the so-called top six. Look outside of that and you have Roy Hodgson, who failed miserably with Liverpool, Alan Pardew, who is exceeding all expectations at Newcastle, Steve Bruce, who is struggling badly at Sunderland, Mick McCarthy and Neil Warnock. To me Redknapp is the only viable English option.
But when you compare the credentials of Harry Redknapp and Arsene Wenger, the Frenchman wins. He has won almost everything there is in the game. His training methods and beliefs have transformed the game and his style of football has been sublime. Sure his off-the-field tantrums can be a bit theatrical and his refusal to see any crimes that his players may have committed on the pitch may be infuriating, but as a manager he is first class.
That’s not to say that Redknapp doesn’t have something special about him. Like Wenger, he has adopted an attacking approach at White Hart Lane and some of their Champions League encounters last season were enthralling affairs. He also has a way of getting the best out of struggling players – just look at Emmanuel Adebayor. Not forgetting his relationship with the Press. While some managers keep the media at arm’s length, Redknapp is only too willing to share his views with the media pack. However, the Press is great at building people up only to knock them back down with an almighty thud.
It’s been reported that Wenger has been on the FA’s list of future England manager’s before. That’s not a shock considering he has been in the country for years and has nailed his colours to the mast about how he wants the beautiful game to be played. England, who have been criticised for under-performing so many times over the past 40 years for inept displays, would at least be treated to some attacking displays under the Frenchman. However, Redknapp would insist on that too.
While having a foreign coach may not be ideal for Jamie Carragher and the like, the bottom line is that England have the option of appointing a foreign manager and the FA would be churlish to turn down the right man for the job just because of his nationality.
Of course many critics believe Wenger would not accept the post because he doesn’t rate English players, but he was responsible for the development of Ashley Cole – now arguably the best left-back in the country, and Jack Wilshere – who looks like being a truly world class player. The chance to work with Rooney, Gerrard and Joe Hart would be one that is nigh impossible to turn down, especially as he wouldn’t have to spend any money to do so.
England’s Golden Generation failed to deliver but with the likes of Wilshere, Smalling and Jones coming through, England have another bunch of talented youngsters who the hopes of a nation rest on. If the FA thought Wenger was the right man for the job would you be happy about it or would you want an Englishman at all costs?
Calling all England fans. How would you feel about having another foreign coach in charge of your country’s hopes? Would you welcome Wenger into the national team with open arms or would you prefer to have an Englishman at the helm? Whatever your views we’d love to hear from you.