England’s Future Bleakens As Arsenal’s Brightens
Fabio Capello’s England reign is over; let the revisionism begin. Chastised in the past twenty-four hours for not having full command of the English language, the Italian may be surprised to see that Harry Redknapp is his media-annointed successor. This is the same Redknapp you will recall, who told a court under oath that he could barely write. Given that, it is inconceivable that the Tottenham manager can take over the national team duties. Unless of course, Redknapp exaggerated in court which might prick some interest in the CPS for possible perjury.
His probity for the role is conveniently glossed over by journalists in the same way that they forgave Venables his commercial misdemeanours. Redknapp, is after all, the best qualified English coach for the job. On what basis is not immediately apparent. A glance at his honours in the English game shows entrenched mediocrity at best. His one venture into the Champions League ended in a mire of tactical naivety in Madrid; hardly a ringing endorsement, especially with this season’s Europa League debacle.
It is not that I don’t rate Redknapp because he is Tottenham coach; I never have. I am not sucked into the media love-in with him, not so gullible as those who depend on his bonhomie for a living. That Redknapp is perceived as the best English coach at the moment sums up the biggest issue. Until such times as there is a genuinely excellent native coach, why should the Football Association bow to the nationalistic fervour of the media.
When Sky News hold up Jeff Powell as a worthy cheerleader for Redknapp, you know that the hatred of his Heil employers is going to be encapsulated into one football related segment.
As it is, the most qualified coaches in the country are not English and not interested in leading the national team. The FA need someone who is capable of managing the mix of youth and experience currently on offer, not a wheeler-dealer with no track record of European experience or tactical innovation.
Arsène Wenger’s – yes, OK, he was one of those I alluded to in the previous paragraph – view on the England job is well-noted; he believes it should go to the best man, who preferably would be English, but if he is not, Wenger does not want the role. He is too enamoured with Arsenal at the moment and as the season begins to turn in his charges favour, he is demanding more consistency,
We had a good week last week. We had a good result against Aston Villa and a good performance against Bolton.
We had the same number of chances [at the Reebok] that we had against Blackburn but we scored on Saturday. We still have real hope that we can finish the season the strongest. We have a good spirit and desire within the group – and we have quality.
We know that with the position we are in we need an exceptional consistency, so that is the challenge we have in front of us at Sunderland.
It is a quality that was absent to begin with, emerged and then disappeared as quickly with the arrival of Christmas. As much as players may claim that the win over Blackburn was for the manager, it was for themselves as well. They needed proof that they were capable of punishing teams as much the chances created deserved.
Whether the win was as cathartic as it should be will only be shown in the coming weeks. Consecutive tough matches at the Stadium of Light await; the trip to Milan is not a run of the mill matter either. Has form returned at just the right moment?
Certainly players are. Kieran Gibbs‘ recovery will allow Thomas Vermaelen and the central pairing to rest and rotate in this hectic schedule. Bacary Sagna, too, improves that situation with Coquelin perhaps released to share some of the midfield burden with Alex Song.
As well as that, Gervinho seems in relatively good form for his country; whether that applies to the returning Marouane Chamakh, one can only guess. Andrey Arshavin is going to stay at the club until the summer at least; OK, so those last two won’t necessarily fill many with joy but they offer a change. A change in the perception surrounding the club that is.
There is, it seems, good reason to be optimistic. Not generously so; there is still a fragility in the nascent unbeaten run. Three games does not a season make but on the back of three Premier League defeats, it is a descent recovery. Tough tests await in all competitions but with returning players, a fresh impetus can be injected into the business end of the season.
Today’s Arsenal On This Day is a local derby from 1905. That Arsenal had to travel to the West Country for such a match reflects the issues of that time.