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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
December is a busy time of year over here in England. There's Christmas shopping to be done, Christmas decorations to be arranged, Christmas trees to be purchased. In short, there's a whole lot of Christmas going on. Most of us spend these early weeks of the month constructing an enormous 'to-do' list and then trying to clear every possible task from it before 'the season to be merry' arrives in earnest. With England now out of the European Championships, FA supremo, Brian Barwick's 'to-do' list can't be very long at all. In fact, I'd wager that above 'cancel Christmas cards to Croatia' and below 'ask Terry Venables about those expense claims' is just one entry. 'Find England manager.'

Now, you would think that this would be a fairly simple task, wouldn't you? At the moment it seems to be a three way race between a former Newcastle striker who has never managed a football team in his life, an Italian who has, but who can't speak a word of English and a confident young Portuguese who can speak six languages and has an unbroken track record of glorious success. Seriously, how long does it take to sort this out?

It would be nice to head into the New Year with all this sorted out, but Barwick seems to have other ideas. He's hit upon the plan of surveying some of the key figures in football to find out what they think. I'd love to think that this just means a few phonecalls to former football managers and then an answer at the end of the week, but with the FA's reputation for procrastination, I very much doubt it. If you want to find out what football personalities think, pick up a newspaper, it's all in there. Don't waste everybody's time by spending two months on leisurely lunches and 'consultation'.

Why does he need to ask for help anyway? He was appointed to lead the Football Association, not to organise focus groups and arrange lengthy periods of consultation. Barwick is in a privileged position and it's about time he paid his way by making the decisions that he was employed to make.

Picking the new England boss should be really, really simple. Just pick a football manager who has proved that he is good at managing footballers. Last time round it should have been Guus Hiddink, last seen leading Russia to Euro 2008 in our place, or Martin O'Neill, currently turning Aston Villa from relegation fodder to European challengers. It should not have been Steve McClaren who had spent the previous season having torn-up Middlesbrough season tickets hurled at him from close range.

This time round there is only one candidate ticking all the boxes. Jose Mourinho can speak English, he knows the English and he knows the English players. He's a proven winner and he has the mentality to succeed. He's even been dropping hints in the English press that he wants the job. Short of waving his hands in the air and screaming, "Pick me! Pick me!" there's not a lot else he can do.

Barwick has insisted that there is no deadline for his decision and that the important thing to do is to ensure that England have, "a world class manager," but that just highlights how little he understands the modern game. If England don't grab Mourinho now, someone else will. Barwick will be sat there munching vol-au-vonts with Graham Taylor while Juan Laporta or Silvio Berlusconi will be handing a contract and a biro to Mourinho instead.

Barwick can start making amends for his mistakes right now and ensure a Merry Christmas for every English football fan. All he has to do is pick up the phone.