The England Manager

Fabio Capello is out, and the British media anointed Harry Redknapp as his successor a long time ago.  If I were Redknapp though (if fact, if I were any manager) I would be asking myself “Why would I want this job?”  If ever there was a poisoned chalice, it is the job of English manager.  The England National Team is doomed to perpetual failure, but unlike almost every other nation doomed to perpetual failure (including the United States), the English fans and the English media expect success.  Oh sure, they hide behind a veneer of cynicism and resignation, but that doesn’t fool anyone, especially as the tournaments start.

England fans see themselves as preordained winners, all evidence to the contrary, and react very badly when the inevitable happens.  In fact, they react badly before the inevitable happens.  Prior to the World Cup, England had a near perfect qualification record, but after qualification was assured and the team’s performance dipped slightly in the meaningless qualifiers that remained, the knives came out–particularly from the media–and the brief honeymoon Capello had enjoyed ended spectacularly.  Not that Capello did himself many favors, mind you, but the media, he was instantly transformed into an ignorant, talentless boob.

Capello, one of the most successful coaches of the past few decades, flamed out spectacularly.  It’s pretty obvious that he had been looking for an out for the past few months at least, and the (latest) John Terry flap gave him the excuse he needed.  Sven-Goren Eriksson and Steve McClaren were well-respected coaches before they took the England job, and now they are national punch lines (especially Eriksson–my God, did Special 1 TV do a good parody of him).  England fans even have ambivalence toward Alf Ramsey.

There is no other country where being named national manager is more punishment than reward save for Brazil, but Brazil fans have reason to expect that they will win every tournament they enter.  So I wonder, why would Redknapp even want this job, and if he gets it, what sins has he committed to deserve such a fate?