I am quite relieved about Fabio Capello’s exit from the England job for purely footballing reasons. We can bitch and moan all we like about so called overpaid players and the such like, but the reality is that playing for this great country is like no other due to the unbelievable pressure and expectation piled on the team by the media and the fans. Capello never understood this, and he made little effort to wonder what it was like for the players striding out wearing the three Lions. His bust up with the FA was inevitable. The Terry case is a nightmare, one with no right or wrong answer as the principal of innocent until proved guilty has to apply to everyone, even the lamentable John Terry.
I plead guilty as charged fan wise. We suspend reality and all sense of reason when it comes to the national team. We wrongly expect that we should be in contention for every tournament gong, and that we should thrash teams 5-0 playing exhilarating football as we go along. Then we are bitterly disappointed when it doesn’t go according to plan.
Apart from the World Cup in 2010, we have done reasonably well when we have qualified in the last 30 odd years. We were unlucky in 86, built up a head of steam at Italia 90 only to be undone by the width of a post (Waddle struck the woodwork in extra time), and the Germans re enacted the pain of Turin in the Euro 96 semi final after I was lucky to witness the best tournament performance of recent times when the Netherlands were beaten 4-1 in some style.
The England job is not about coaching or improving players. It is about finding the right blend, encouraging a team ethic, protecting the players from our rapacious media and understanding what the team means to the country in the hype of a tournament situation. Bobby Robson ticked all those boxes, Sven and Capello did not. Graham Taylor’s failure was managing Gazza and fear of flair players. Carlton Palmer, Andy Sinton and Geoff Thomas were capped in his reign. Enough said.
Much as I loathe anything ‘Spurs related, and much as he winds me up, Harry Redknapp has to be the man for the job. If he decides to stay in the Premier League then I would go for David Beckham, with Stuart Pearce as his number two making it clear he will be given time to build a whole new ethos around team England and use his vast experience to nurture a new generation of players.