With Fabio Capello departing the England scene, a number of names are being thrown around as potential successors. The FA have been quick to confirm that Stuart Pearce will stand in as interim coach (taking a leaf from the RFU’s playbook perhaps) for the upcoming friendly at the end of February, but Pearce is far from the only candidate for this job. While a brief scan of the sports pages would suggest that Hary Redknapp is the universal choice, their are certainly a number of other men who could take on the role. But what are the pros and cons for each one?
The Tottenham boss is the overwhelming popular choice in most people’s eyes, with some suggesting that he could split his time between club and country until the end of the current Premier League season before potentially ending his club career in the summer. Redknapp commands a great deal of respect within footballing circles, having begun his managerial career in 1983 with Bournemouth. He is built his reputation through hard graft and over the last few years whenever he has been linked with any job it has been rare that anyone has been against his appointment. He even managed to survive the controversial move from Portsmouth to bitter rivals Southampton before returning to Pompey to lead them to the FA Cup.
Redknapp is known to be interested in the position, although he has diplomatically refused to be drawn into the current media frenzy by stating that he is committed to Spurs. At the age of 64, it is also likely that this would be his last chance to take on the role, barring any other successful candidate failing in the position and leaving quickly.
The timing of Capello’s departure is a fortuitous one for Redknapp. Had it happened a few weeks earlier, he would have still been facing charges of tax evasion, which he was cleared of the same day Capello left. Had legal issues prevented Redknapp’s appointment, it would mirror events in 2007, when he believed allegations of false accounting had stopped him from being considered as a replacement for Steve McClaren.
If there are any negatives to the idea of an appointment of Redknapp, they can only be his age and a surprising lack of silverware in his long managerial career. While this latter fact should not be an issue, it is something that the press could seize on should he fail to ignite England the way many believe he would.
Roy Hodgson has been a contender for the position of England manager since the late 90s, having been linked with the job following the departures of Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Steve McClaren, in addition to being one of the suggested potential replacements for Fabio Capello had the Italian left his job after the 2010 World Cup. The West Brom boss can boast much more silverware than Harry Redknapp, although with much of his success being away from England, it often flies below the radar of many England watchers.
Hodgson also has significant international pedigree, something that Redknapp is also without, having coached Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. While some would suggest these positions do not automatically qualify him for the England post, a closer look shows how successful he was in these jobs, specifically for Switzerland, who he guided to the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96. In fact, under Hodgson Switzerland were eat one point rated the thrid best international team in the world in the official FIFA rankings and while the team failed to win any of their matches at Euro 96, the tournament took place after Hodgson had left for Inter Milan.
Hodgson has proven himself to be a talented manager, especially when leading teams who find themselves under pressure, such as Fulham and West Brom. His record of winning titles, while wholly achieved outside England, equals or exceeds those of the other leading candidates.
What may count against Hodgson is, like Redknapp, his age (he is 64) and, more damagingly, the unfair accusation that he cannot handle big jobs. This myth seems to be perpetuated largely by Liverpool fans who were unhappy with his stint in charge of the Merseyside club. However, he was brought into the club in a very turbulent time and found himself in a position where significant portions of the fans did not want him from the start, preferring his eventual successor Kenny Dalglish. But any in-depth look at Hodgson’s record reveals great success at a domestic and international level and for that reason, he may be a better candidate for the job than Redknapp.