Steve McClown was relieved of his duties as England’s national team manager this morning and, in my opinion, it’s about 12 months too late. His tenure was marked by tactical incompetance and poor player management. He was clearly overmatched and, in retrospect, it is clear he was chosen by the English Football Association (FA) simply because he is English. The players may like him but he suffers from the classic assistant syndrome: he can’t make the difficult choice when he has to. It’s like in U-571 when Matthew McConaughey has to step up and order someone he liked to do something he pretty much knew was going to get him killed. In the end, McConaughey’s character could; McClown couldn’t.
His most famous moment is, arguably, “cutting” David Beckham from the team. It was McClown trying to establish his authority but it backfired. He didn’t have the authority to do that; he could never establish himself as the captain of the ship, like McConaughey did, and will forever been seen as the executive officer, the guy who’s friends with all the men, in this case, the players on the national team. To be fair, he started off well, with three straight wins. Unfortunately, that’s one-third of his total number of wins in 18 months. He managed 18 games, winning 9, losing 5, and drawing 4. It’s a hardly inspiring record.
There are problems with England, though. Like Mexico, they fancy themselves a top 5 soccer nation (this is a recurring theory of mine re: Mexico; perhaps I’ll write about that sometime). The reality is, they’re not. Their two best mids – Frank Lampard and Stevie Gerrard – can’t play together. They have zero wingers with any technical ability. There is a perpetual black hole in the net; witness the recurring recall of Calamity James (which, thankfully, has mostly ended). England’s best keeper might be Ben Foster, a youngster who’s currently languishing on Manchester United’s bench. The national team needs a manager that can meld these disparate talents together into a cohesive whole. It needs a manager with the juice to make tough calls and not be cowed by the media (as McClown so often was).
That manager is Fabio Capello.
According to reports on F365, he’s interested in the job. And, even though I’m morally opposed to his defensive style, he needs to be hired. He brings instant respect to the job. The most influential players – think Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Wayne Rooney – will embrace him and accept him because they want to win. He’s had success everywhere he’s been. It’s really a no brainer. Of course, some will shout that England should be managed by an Englishman. But that’s just dumb: just like a club team, a national team should hire the best manager available. England should hire Capello and let him do what he will with the team. He will bring instant results. I guarantee it.