Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Magic Beans

Fabio Capello talking about the Italian psyche in 2006: “We’re convinced we know more than the next guy.”

Okay, it might be a little cruel but I couldn’t help but think of this quote when I looked at this picture of oul’ Fabio and Stuart Pearce having a chinwag about the England players. True enough, he does preface this with the words, “We Italians are over critical and arrogant, all of us”, but still you’d have to wonder how much of what ‘Psycho’ is telling him really hit home with Fabio?

This is a man with a startling managerial record talking to a fella who managed one of, if not the, most boring Premier League side ever not to get relegated. Last season’s Manchester City were a disgrace to football, and while Pearce’s stock rose somewhat after the U-21 European Championships in Holland last summer, no one really believes he’s a top class coach. Certainly not in the Italian mould of great thinkers anyway.

Capello apparently is still searching for an Englishman to compliment his backroom staff but that search may prove as difficult as the grand charade that is the hunt for a new Irish manager. Think of an Englishman with tactical nous (god I hate that phrase but alas, it fits). Anyone leap forward? If this was ten years ago the unfortunate truth is the choice would most likely have been Howard Wilkinson; in Sven’s wisdom he hired Steve McClaren and Sammy Lee. Therefore finding a suitable man for this role has never been, and will never be, an easy choice.

My candidate, should Capello really want someone English-born to run ideas by, is the man he beat to the job – Harry Redknapp. An Englishman who understands good football, loves talking tactics and from an early age (check out The Times podcast interview with him from a few weeks back) has understood how out-thinking an opponent is worth as much as pace or power.

While I doubt Redknapp would take the job, I’d still see him as the outstanding candidate so it’s back over to Capello and his background staff to persuade the Portsmouth manager or someone of similar knowledge (though I can’t think of anyone) to get on board.

The phrase ‘slim pickings’ defines the search for the Ireland manager at present, or at least in those linked with the post in the press. The same names recycled again and again. Today the Irish Independent led with Gerard Houllier as the choice of the three man committee of Don Howe, Roy Houghton and Don Givens. Last Wednesday it was Kenny Dalglish. Mick McCarthy has even had to rule himself out. At this stage, the committee have been in business for several weeks and the question has to be asked – who exactly have they talked to?

Terry Venables confirmed last week that he’s had no approach. Graeme Souness too has ruled himself out due to no approach (in fact he thought the job had been given to Venables… surely something that could have been cleared up with Houghton during the ad breaks on The Premiership’s Saturday night show on RTE?). So who have they been speaking to? Howard Kendall?

We now know that it will be up to FAI president John Delaney and another blazer to negotiate Ireland’s fixture list for the World Cup qualifiers at a meeting on 16 January. It’s a dark thought and the image of Delaney coming back to Abbottstown with a bag of magic beans and 10 away ties continues to crop up every now and then.

Capello’s search is certainly the easier one here as he’s really only making a conciliatory move to appease the FA and the English media who still, quite unbelievably, question his credentials to manage a side going nowhere. Ireland’s three men committee you’d suspect are merely seeing how many hotel lunches they can get on the FAI cheque book before anyone actually asks what they’re up too.


The Carling Cup semi finals began last night. They continue tonight. End report.


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Cheers - JJ


Mark said...

maybe fabio is a fan of punk rock, like psycho?

tapejunior said...

Do you think Ireland are waiting until the European Championships are over before deciding on a manager? it could be a great idea, but saying that probably means the FAI won't do it!

Mark said...

hmm, it could be a good idea if the current options are venebles, houllier etc., but i don't think the media would be too happy unless there was a good caretaker in place

dazman said...

Please not fat sam

JJ said...

Roger that dazman, don't think the FAI could afford the 2000-strong backroom team anyway.