Hiddink for England job?

The impossible job? Or do the F.A Guus need to think about it?

It has been called ‘The impossible job.’ Who in their right mind would want the England manager’s job?

I remember the date of 14th December 2007 very well. It was on this day that Fabio Capello was formally appointed as England manager. The F.A were very proud of the appointment and reeled off an impressive list of achievements that the Italian had under his belt. As I listened to his long list of successes, it dawned on me that we had been here before.

Yes Indeed, we had. In January 2001 the F.A presented Sven-Göran Eriksson in a similar fashion to us. He too had a distinguished C.V. He had won Serie A with Lazio and was going to be the saviour of English football. Both of these men had one notable similarity – and it wasn’t winning the championship in Italy. Neither was it the fact that they had both managed Roma. No. It was that all their triumphs had been attained at club level.

Neither had prior International experience. They say that playing at club level and international level is like chalk and cheese. If that is the case, then surely managing at club and international level follows the same mantra? The biggest difference in managing at these two levels is that at international level you can’t get your chequebook out and sign a player or 7. You have to make do with what you have and get the best out of them. Sven and Fabio both spent millions in their search for success. But the only millions they were going to see in their new job were the millions going into their personal bank accounts courtesy of the F.A.

So, Capello has now gone leaving the England football team in a dismal state, worse than it was when he arrived. All the bosses at the F.A – take a bow – at least you did the right thing and drove him out. Your next mission, should you choose to accept, is to go and get Guus.

I keep hearing “What has this manager or that manager done to merit the England job?”  Well, I will tell you why Hiddink is the perfect man.

But before I do that, let’s talk about the job itself. If you ask anyone who has been the most successful England manager since Bobby Robson, the list is very short. Terry Venables would be the name most people will say. Why? And the worst England manager? That list is slightly longer. Take your pick. I’m going with Graham Taylor. Why? Easy. For me, the two questions can be answered with two words – Man management.

In international football, man management is the most vital part of a manager’s make up, along with good tactical knowledge. In club football a manager can go and buy players to fit his team, his tactics and surround himself with players he likes. In international football a manager has to get the best out of the crop of the nation. Players loved playing for Venables – it got results. All too often the wrong man was chosen to lead the three lions. Let’s look at the England managers since 1990.

Taylor – it says a lot that the most memorable thing about Taylor’s rein as England manager is his catchphrase – “Do I not like that.” Hoddle – Players disliked him…(a lot). Keegan – tactically clueless. McClaren – Clueless. Sven – Too soft. Capello – Too tough. So what now?

Hiddink comes with a proven international track record. Getting South Korea to the semi finals of the 2002 world cup was a great achievement. Yes, there was some questionable decisions that went their way, but they are certainly not the first team to benefit from such a thing. In 2006, Hiddink led Australia to their best ever finish, losing to a last minute penalty to Italy, in the second round of the 2006 world cup. It was a tremendous effort by the Aussie’s who loved playing for their manager. In 2008 he led Russia to the Euro 2008 championships by finishing a point ahead of England in their qualifying group and went on to lead them to the semi finals of the tournament.

In 2009, Guus Hidink was hired as caretaker manager of Chelsea. The Stamford bridge dressing room is one of the hardest dressing rooms to walk into and take control of. Just ask Scolari. Or Avram Grant. Or Villas-Boras. Players like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack were at the height of their powers, making the task even more daunting. Hiddink walked in there, won them over, and left them with an F.A cup to showcase in their trophy cabinet as well as leading them to the Semi finals of the champions league, losing to eventual winners, Barcelona.

His strengths are exactly what England need right now. He is available, has a brilliant command of the English language, can galvanise a squad of players and is the right man to turn England into a team that will strike fear into opponents across the globe.

No Guus. No Glory.

Kam Gill

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