FA headhunters should look beyond Redknapp

  • Steve Wilson
  • 27 Sep 11, 06:52 PM

With the final dog-eared months of Fabio Capello's unexceptional reign as England manager slowly grinding by, someone somewhere at the FA must be giving ever more serious attention to the task of replacing him.

The received wisdom is that the next appointment will be an Englishman, and Harry Redknapp has made it as clear as political expediency allows that he wants the job.

Redknapp would certainly bring a refreshing sense of humour and a common touch to the England bandwagon.

Too few recent England managers have looked like they actually enjoy the job. Capello occasionally looks like he can only just stomach it, as though English football and footballers are something to be endured rather than enjoyed.

I have no reason to think that Redknapp would not be popular with the players and I know he would be popular with the press - so long as England were doing well.

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Pulis ensures Stoke prosper

  • Steve Wilson
  • 14 Sep 11, 04:10 PM

Thank goodness for Stoke City! Not an opinion you would expect too many opposition managers to share, especially after a beating at the Britannia; but really everyone with an interest in English football retaining some of its unique English qualities should be grateful for their achievements over the last three years.

Stoke are an old-fashioned football club prospering in the modern game. They have been built brilliantly by a local boy made good in Peter Coates in tandem with Tony Pulis, a manager who retains much of the grit of his South Wales upbringing; a manager who Coates implicitly trusts, has a close friendship with, and a manager who has rewarded both his boss and the club's fans with extraordinary success.

The first time I saw Stoke play in the Premier League was in October 2008. They had been in the top flight for just about three months and were at home to Spurs who had made a rotten start to the season under Juande Ramos. It was about to get worse.

Tottenham were blitzed by a Stoke performance of unrelenting pace, aggression and power. It was like Torvill and Dean had been sent out in their sequins to take on the Boston Bruins for NHL's Stanley Cup. They were mincemeat.

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Can Swansea pass the Premier League test?

  • Steve Wilson
  • 7 Sep 11, 10:45 AM

It's not too often that as a commentator you get the time or the inclination to shout "Shoot!" in the way that a fan might when supporting their team from behind the goal; but watching Arsenal sometimes has that effect on me - and, for the record, I am not a Gunners fan.

It's often been said that Arsene Wenger's team seem to strive for the perfect goal rather than just any old finish; as if a fluky ricochet off some lumbering striker's backside doesn't really count. Arsenal's forwards have tended to work the angles around the opposition box like a couple of Olympic table-tennis champions attempting the world's longest rally.

The time for such luxuries at Emirates Stadium has surely gone after their terrible start to the season and the priority against Swansea City on Saturday has to be to stick the ball in the old onion bag as often as possible by any means possible - even it's more Frimpong than ping-pong. (Sorry - couldn't resist it!)

How appropriate, then, that the side credited with playing some of the prettiest football ever seen on these shores should face, in their moment of crisis, a side which are arguably even less direct in their approach.

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Losing faith in Fabio Capello's England

  • Steve Wilson
  • 1 Sep 11, 03:00 PM

Fabio Capello's England team are in Bulgaria, before taking on Wales at Wembley next week with qualification for Euro 2012 still very much in their own hands.

That's the good news; but it's still been an indifferent qualifying campaign which has fallen a long way short of erasing the memories of that pitiful World Cup campaign in South African.

Fabio Capello's performance at the 2010 World Cup would have seen most coaches sacked, except of course that the Football Association had already decided to reward the Italian with a new contract before a ball had been kicked in the finals. This contract has been reported to be worth £6m a year. It is surely so lucrative that only a fool would resign from it, while the FA certainly did not want the expense of terminating it.

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