Robson Our Choice for the England Job Say Five Wise Men

Daily Mail (London), January 30, 1996 | Go to article overview

Robson Our Choice for the England Job Say Five Wise Men


THE FA's five- man sub-commitee sits down today to decide who they will nominate as Engalnd coach Terry Venable's sucessor. Sportsmail's select commitee beat them to it yesterday. Jeff powell, Brian Scovell, Rob Shepherd and David Walker deliberated over lunch at Langan's Brasserie in a meeting chaired by Neil Harman, Chief Football Writer. Here is our panel's verdict.

WE RANGED from the sublime to the less than sublime. We tried to come to our decision from all angles. We put ourselves in the place of the men chosen by the FA to determine the man who will charge our national game with the drive and dynamism required for the next century. Theirs, we decided, is not going to be an easy choice.

At times the debate was lively, the five talked across each other more than we talked to each other, but there was agreement that choosing the next England coach demands more than picking the terrace favourite, the player's favourite. It requires clear thinking and dispassionate debate. First, the argument was English or not English.

JP: There is no major football nation which doesn't have one of its own as its manager. Our own people understand the characteristics of the English game and we would be classing ourselves as a second-rate nation if we employ a foreign coach.

BS: We are a second-rate nation.

RS: But would the Italians countenance anything other than an Italian, the French other than a Frenchman? Louis van Gaal of Holland has been mooted but he is working to a system, it is not so much down to him personally.

Josef Venglos was regarded as one of the leading foreign coaches but his impact at Aston Villa was minimal.

NH: You could see a situation developing where, as soon as things started to go wrong, someone from a foreign country would be accused of lacking the heart, lacking the desire. His commitment would be called into question, he'd have no chance.

Foreigner ruled out. So who do we go for?

BS: Do we want one man on his own or a team? I believe we need to go back to the concept of having someone with a university education, a Walter Winterbottom figure, a professor of football if you like, who would have the admiration and respect of the players, who would have an understanding of all branches of football.

DW: Two years ago, Jimmy Armfield was patrolling the nation and came up with a shortlist of three, one of whom was a manager having a great time who is available now - Trevor Francis. The members of the international committee were singing his praises then.

RS: But now he is perceived as a failure.

BS: Do we think the manager has to be someone who has played at the top level? People assume these people are automatically good coaches but I believe the great international footballers don't think about the game enough to be able to impart their ideas to the players.

JP: There should be no hard-and-fast rule. If you had an even call on two people, you might favour the great international player because he commands instant respect.

RS: That would win the players over in the short term.

BS: You need an upbeat personality because the psychological element comes into it so much. You want people who can instil confidence, not destroy it, as so many English managers and coaches do these days, often without even knowing they're doing it.

DW: You also need a pragmatist. Terry Venables' great virtue is that he's a realist. It's no good talking about things you can't possibly achieve.

He's not blinded by a vision of emulating Brazil, because the raw material isn't there.

JP: The major criterion that matters is how the man does the job, it's not about what you can achieve with a cheque-book but the judgement of players, those who best fit the way you want to play. The players will need guidance and help and he must be able to give it to them. You can't go out and buy an Asprilla, it's how you best assess footballers. …

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