The sudden departure of Fabio Capello has left England in upheaval and disarray only months before a major tournament with Harry Redknapp immediately touted as the saviour to this problem from fellow managers, players and the media. Is he necessarily a wise choice though?
Harry’s problems might not cease at filling in the team sheet, and the FA would have to consider how effective his appointment would be. Whilst experienced in the English game, his clear lack of international familiarity could seriously burden him. Of the recent winners of major tournaments, Vicente del Bosque and Marcello Lippi guided their countries to World Cup success after considerable achievements at club level, most notably through winning the Champions League.
However, the other winners of either the World Cup or European Championships since 1996; Luiz Scolari, Roger Lemerre, Otto Rehhagel , Aime Jacquet and Berti Vogts, can boast moderate success at club level if any. On this argument, Guus Hiddink would be a much more ideal candidate through his excellent international CV and his preference to succeed on a short-term level, proven by his brief stint for Chelsea. Roy Hodgson’s trip to America in 1994 could make him the most suitably placed Englishman.
Preparing for a European Championship is markedly different from preparing for a league season. Redknapp, renowned for ‘wheeling and dealing’ and rarely settling for a set squad, would have to be decisive enough to pick an effective 23 that would encompass suitable versatility players, as well as promoting a balance of experience with youthful energy. He would also have to consider a change in tactics as his attacking play could be exciting yet naïve against the world’s best defenders and he would need a back-up plan more sophisticated than the long-ball up to Crouchy.
The argument that Harry should be appointed based on his good relationship with the players could actually be a flaw. Whilst Capello’s strict manner was lost in translation, there could be a danger of a repeat of the McLaren days of ‘Stevie G’ and ‘Wazza’ emerging if Redknapp was to take the job.
The pressure of bringing international glory is one that would surely deter a manger keen on maintaining a sound reputation, therefore eliminating the possibility of Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger stepping in just for the tournament. The appointment of proud Brit Redknapp would once again revoke jingoism to the team, which is not beneficial. In these circumstances, most typically portrayed in the Terry Venables and Kevin Keegan spells, England desperately hold on to the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ only to crash out valiantly to a team less restrained by national expectation.
It is surely plausible that the FA already possess a shortlist of managers for after the tournament, which Redknapp would have been on. Without the distraction of Spurs and with more time to get a settled squad, this could be a sound appointment and a wonderful reward for fifty years in the game. However, considering the little preparation time, England need someone dispassionate who understands the short-term, instant requirements needed for tournament success and Harry is not this man.