Perhaps comedic or perhaps absolutely shameful, but whichever side of the line you believe it to fall on, the Sam Allardyce fiasco is a microcosm of why the English FA (and indeed the England team) must currently be considered a laughing stock.
You’ve seen the jokes, I’m sure - my personal favorite was in reference to the fact that a Dragonflies lifespan (70 days) lasts longer than Big Sam did at the helm of the national team. I certainly laughed just a little bit too hard during my morning commute to work after reading that. All kidding aside, England are in a bit of trouble (again) but perhaps, finally, they have the perfect opportunity to right the ship and put it on a collision course with a bit of success.
If you have not seen the rumored list of the FA’s preferred candidates to fill the large void left by Allardyce, names such as Steve Bruce, Alan Pardew, David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, and Harry Redknapp are the headliners for the short list. A quick glance at the names on the shortlist and you’ll notice not even a tingling of confidence pouring into your conscious, and rightfully so. Bruce has perennially been at the helm of mid-table clubs or worse, Pardew was an utter disaster at Newcastle (and the man cannot even celebrate in acceptable fashion), Moyes (though scapegoated at United) was downright woeful at Real Sociedad, Giggs has very little managerial experience, and Harry Redknapp… well… we can just leave it there.
Immediately fans should be reminded, just by referencing the above list, that the FA, if they were serious, would not even take a second look at any of those options, let alone a first look at all. A major reason pertaining to why the England team have now made it customary to nose dive out of a competition can be largely traced to the fact that the man in charge on the touchline has no business being in charge at all - by that same notion, everyone can almost certainly agree that the very same conclusion can be drawn about the possible candidates being touted for succession.
England, a nation which boasts one of the best domestic competitions in Europe, with a footballing history that certainly is laudable (though it cannot stand up to that of its rivals) surely must do better; and that time is now, but not with those mentioned. One option who has been mentioned, though viewed with an outside chance, is Ralf Rangick.
Without boring you to tears on the German’s background, the long story short is that Rangick has managerial experience at VfB Stuttgart, Hannover 96, FC Schalke 04, 1899 Hoffenheim, and RasenBallsport Leipzig, while also spending time “upstairs” as sporting director at both Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg. He undoubtedly has been around the block once or twice, so the immediate concern for some would be if he could even last a potential long-term appointment. While that concern is in fact legitimate, the pros certainly outweigh the cons.
Though he may not have managerial experience in England (making him “unknown”), Rangick considers himself to be a credible student and “fan” of the Premier League and many of it’s domestic players. Additionally, Rangick is a huge proponent of putting faith in youth and building through that avenue rather than the current England directive of forcing “stars” into the team, even when many of them do not deserve it. This, for me, is incredibly important moving forward for the nation in terms of putting the national program back on track.
With players such as Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley, John Stones, Raheem Sterling, as well as other young players coming through the domestic ranks and playing large roles for their clubs in the Premier League, isn’t it time that England put faith in them, despite their tender age? When you look at teams such as Spain, Germany, France, Croatia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and others, if a player is good enough, he is good enough - regardless of age.
In regards to England, this is only a notion that is still in its infancy - there have been call-ups for younger players sure, but certainly not enough faith placed, especially when Wayne Rooney (amongst others) are still considered viable for the team given their name. But big names do not win you tournaments if they are not performing at club level and earning their way into the team via the form guide.
Added to Rangick’s excellent track record with youth development and the youth’s subsequent success in breaking into first-team set ups, the Backnang-native is also a no-nonsense headmaster who demands total control of his set-up, as well as the notion that the players must buy into his tactical approach, rather than allowing freedom of expression. If there was ever a time for a man of discipline who has a clear aim in how he wants to operate to come into the England fold, that time surely is, well, immediately.
We have all been absolutely bored to tears with England’s approach in recent tournaments, haven’t we? Despite the Prem being rather entertaining, and many of England’s younger players being capable of playing free-flowing, incisive, intelligent football, somehow England always manage to revert back to a 4-4-2 approach with far too many long balls in a style bereft of intellect and invention. Lauded for his brand of football, Rangick again would ring in the changes on the tactics board to the point where, potentially, England would finally mirror the Premier League with regards to style and ability.
Though most of the league’s standout players are in fact foreign, all you have to do is look at the reinvention of Sterling under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City to see what a motivated foreign manager can bring out of an English player blessed with plenty of raw ability.
Admittedly no one expects the FA to go foreign in their next appointment. The notion that a manager who “knows the players and the league”, who will also be easily controlled from the top, will undoubtedly be preferred. And, as stated before, therein lies one of so many problems that continue to hold back a country that is desperate to genuinely matter on the international stage.
So while we all sit and wait, and expect the inevitable underwhelming decision that will surely see England remain on it’s current course, let’s all dream together on what could be, but probably never will - at least not in the near future.