All Change, 11th February 2012

by Timothy Masters

Redknapp CapelloIt seems only fitting that the inaugural topical post for LF should be at the start of a new era for the national side, even if it seems like a familiar situation. After Sven had proven that club success was no guarantee of international honours (and that you probably should keep it in your pants once in a while) we had a clamour for an Englishman to take the job, leading to that glorious period of the brollied wally.

Fabio wasn’t a bad manager for the national side, doing enough to not get sacked, and his side were unfortunate at the World Cup last year with the Lampard non-goal. It is telling that he walked, rather than seeing out his contract or being removed, as it at least allows him a degree of dignity, but while he may not be a quitter, there is a rather tasteless internet joke going around to the tune that he isn’t the first Italian to leave a sinking ship.

So far there hasn’t been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the lost work and the country being screwed for the European Championship now Capello has gone, which says a lot about the confidence in English chances, especially in the press. This is partly due to the Spanish dominance, but also the simple fact that England have been more disappointing than a Michael Bolton Greatest Hits album in recent years and no-one was expecting a strong showing this summer.

The bookies favourite to take over is squeaky clean Churchill dog lookalike Harry Redknapp, fresh from defending himself against tax evasion charges, and he seems to have got here by a process of being the last man standing. All the other English managers are either spent or working at too low a level to be considered, Roy Hodgson aside, and hiring the likes of Guus Hiddink, a proven tournament manager, seems not to be on the FA’s agenda.

Harry has a good project at Spurs, and the club have backed him over the last eighteen months in keeping hold of their players when big bids came in. There is a lot of media speculation about Gareth Bale’s future, and bids for him would probably exceed even the amount offered for Luka Modric last summer, but if he stays at Tottenham it would certainly be with the proviso they don’t sell his stars. Were he to take on the vacant Wembley position, there would be a lot of Spurs fans very excited about who could replace him next season.

That’s probably quite telling, as the supporters at the club aren’t convinced about his ability to operate at the highest level tactically. This may also count against him in the interview process, especially if foreign candidates are given equal opportunities, but it will be fascinating to see who eventually gets that poisoned chalice. If it turns out to be Harry’s swansong we can be sure of one thing, that he’ll pay the correct tax on his salary and transfer bonuses won’t be an issue.