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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
In the wake of the inevitable sacking of Steve McClaren, the English Football Association has promised an urgent review of the national game. They might want to start by looking at the cack-handed, bungling manner in which they last tried to hire a manager and promising to avoid a repeat performance. Trying to spirit away a rival nation's leader before a major tournament, failing miserably and then attempting to convince the country that, actually, you really wanted the man who had just finished 14th and seen his team annihilated in a Cup Final, was just silly.

There is only one man who can pick the shattered pieces of national pride out of the gutter and put them back together. He's a man who started at the bottom of the pile and, through consistent and repeated success, clawed his way to the top. He's the only person who can sit in the bear pit with the English journalists and dominate them. He has a thorough knowledge of English football and has moulded half the team in his own, indomitable image. If the FA don't offer Jose Mourinho the job, then their privileged existence of buffets and executive boxes needs to be brought to an immediate end.

Unfortunately, I think John Burridge might have been onto something in his column this week when he suggested that Alan Shearer has already been lined up to take over. Shearer was one of the BBC's pundits this week and, while his fellow experts queued up to tear holes in McClaren's strategy and individual performances, the Newcastle legend focused entirely on the spirit of the players and the fight in the team. Shearer is no fool and he knows that with no managerial experience on his CV, the only thing he can bring to the party is, yes you've guessed it, spirit and fight.

While I can't see that Shearer could possibly do a worse job than McClaren, I really don't think that dropping an inexperienced man into the most pressured job in football is the right move. I realise that Holland, Germany and Italy have all done it, but none of them have actually won anything. Under Marco van Basten, Holland were eliminated in the first knock-out round of the World Cup. Jurgen Klinsmann may have taken Germany to the Semi-Finals, but it was on home turf and mainly due to the Argentine capitulation in the previous round. Italy struggled to qualify for next summer under Roberto Donadoni and if you need a further example of what can happen when inexperience is plunged into the deep end, look at the flailing efforts of Steve Staunton at Ireland.

Of all the men who have tried and failed to lead England to glory, the ones who came the closest were proven winners. Bobby Robson, Terry Venables and Sven Goran Eriksson all impressed in at least one stage of their tenure and they all had cabinets full of medals from their club careers.

Graham Taylor, Kevin Keegan and McClaren were, with the greatest of respect, losers. Taylor performed miracles by dragging Watford into the top flight, but he didn't win anything. Keegan was responsible for the most exciting team to grace English football in decades, but he didn't win anything. McClaren...enough said, I think.

Reviving England will be a horribly difficult and pressurised job and The Football Association should be in no hurry to pass the poisoned chalice on. They need to sit down, take a deep breath and make the right decision. They need to pick a man who can deal with the savage press as easily as he can deal with the big dressing room egos. They need to pick Mourinho.