SAM ALLARDYCE: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

New boss makes a start which seemed to be defined by problems of his own making

Eventually, Sam Allardyce managed to come away with a victory in his first game in charge of England, a last gasp Adam Lallana goal resulting in a 1-0 win in Trnava. It was an uneven performance which failed to suggest that we really are on the brink of a brave new dawn for the national team, a display which can be largely attributed to Allardyce contriving to cause issues which he could easily have avoided.

It must be said that this isn’t an easy job for the former West Ham man. After the disastrous European Championships defeat to Iceland, goodwill towards the England team is extremely low, with significant work to be done before the fans will have anything approaching belief and optimism regarding the future. There’s little he can do during the qualification phase for the next World Cup; England are expected to progress comfortably, Roy Hodgson got little by way of credit for winning ten out of ten qualifiers prior to the last tournament and judgement will very much be reserved until we face serious competitive action (as it is, tonight’s fixture was, on paper, the toughest assignment on offer between now and 2018). Allardyce is also very much a Marmite appointment, for every person who believes his particular brand of ultra-pragmatism and robust self-belief is what’s required to take the team forward, there’s another who has never warmed to his methods and never enjoyed watching his teams play, and as such is indelibly predisposed to viewing him with extreme suspicion. However, even allowing for those circumstances, there were enough factors tonight within his control that he could have addressed yet oddly chose not to.

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I’ll be honest, there is a very small part of me which would like to see a modern version of this, even allowing for it requiring England to be rubbish.

Firstly, following a result which must be considered possibly the worst in a tournament since losing to the United States in the 1950 World Cup, the post-Euro 2016 period represented a fine opportunity to make a completely clean break and for a new manager to go completely his own way, whatever the merits of that might be. Strangely for a man who has frequently given the impression that he insists on getting whatever he wants throughout his club career, Allardyce turned down this opportunity and picked broadly the same squad and team as employed in the summer. This meant a continuation of puzzling selection decisions, with Danny Rose preferred to Luke Shaw even before the Manchester United full back pulled out of the squad, Jordan Henderson selected today as the most advanced of a midfield three despite being given a berth in front of the back four at club level, a reluctance to pair Dele Alli and Harry Kane in close proximity to each other despite the two having immense success combining for Tottenham – Alli starting this game on the bench and Kane withdrawn shortly after his team mate came on – and Marcus Rashford not included in the squad despite being one of the few to escape the Iceland debacle without scorn and providing an option completely different to that offered by any of the other forwards in the squad.

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Seriously, the lad is awesome.

Furthermore, the tactics remained entirely unchanged from those used in Euro 2016. This did not look in any way like a Sam Allardyce team; he has surely not been brought in by the FA to serve up a tame imitation of a Roy Hodgson team as this would not seem to suit anyone’s wishes. The approach remained a possession heavy, low tempo one; while the ball was kept acceptably enough, all too often it was in non-threatening areas and movement in the first half in particular was as good as non-existent. This led to the majority of the game being played in front of the Slovakian defence and midfield, lacking in penetration and with a distinct lack of clear cut chances produced. This 4-3-3 set up with this set of players relies far too heavily on the full backs for width, leads to the centre forward often being isolated, struggles for fluency and results in limited opposition teams becoming increasingly confident that they can hold England at bay. Indeed, the late, late Lallana goal was pretty much the only thing which separated this game and the 0-0 draw played out between the two teams in Saint-Etienne less than three months ago. England probably did just about deserve to win this game but that applied in the previous meeting too and quite rightly wasn’t enough to prevent the display from being subject to heavy criticism.

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Tapping the ball around with no obvious aim is the domain of idiots like this, not international managers.

All of which leads to the man who has been a central issue for England for many years; Wayne Rooney. He was a big issue before Allardyce arrived, with his influence clearly now declining and there being superior centre forwards in the squad. Post-Euro 2016 would have been the ideal opportunity to move on from his era, the national scoring record safely under his belt and with his game only heading one way, it’s hard to see him ever impacting significantly on a major tournament again. However, Allardyce spurned this option and chose to retain him as captain, stating that he would play him “where he plays for Manchester United” – we can only assume that this was referring to his role under Jose Mourinho, where he plays loosely as a number 10 off Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Instead, Rooney reprised the exact same role he filled in Euro 2016, on the left of a three man midfield. This creates a double issue; firstly, he cannot really play in this position. While his endeavour cannot be faulted, he is always keen to get on the ball from deep and the effort levels never drop – he simply does not have the required quality of distribution to have any kind of serious impact on games from that position. In a midfield alongside Henderson and Eric Dier, the onus is very much on him to be the creative hub of the team, but his passing between the lines is less than incisive and often his only offerings are heavily telegraphed switches to the right sided players (oddly, he rarely passes out to the left). There really are better central midfielders in the country than Wayne Rooney. Secondly, Allardyce explicitly stated that Rooney would not play in midfield. It is not a good look to essentially outright lie to the supporters before a ball’s even been kicked and to be directly contradicting your own public statements in your very first match in charge. Post-match, the manager seemed to suggest that Rooney had licence to play wherever he saw fit – a baffling statement if ever there were one, especially from a manager famed for tactical rigidity. Pandering to Rooney’s whims and not selecting teams on merit are dangerous roads for Allardyce to be going down at this very early stage.

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“Today gentlemen, we’ll be playing 4-2-wherever Wayne wants to play-3”

As stated, Allardyce is very much a pragmatist and he will doubtless see a narrow away win against the second seeds in the group as a triumph, that his methods have been validated (leaving aside that Slovakia managed to significantly handicap themselves by keeping faith with Martin Skrtel, who inevitably lost control and was sent off, as he threatens to do so virtually every time he plays) and that any criticism is moot as the end ultimately justified the means. However, should he remain wilfully blind to the weaknesses in the current way in which the team is set up, it’s an inevitability that England will be condemned to the same results as the Hodgson era. Plenty of managers could get England to be semi-efficient flat track bullies; it’s up to Allardyce to live up to what has been mostly his own hype over the last two decades, and produce some form of tangible success. Based on tonight, he has much work to do across the board before that can be considered realistic.

BIG SAM: BIG DISAPPOINTMENT

The veteran manager is an unimaginative appointment who is unlikely to progress the national team

A mere 14 months ago, Sam Allardyce was sacked within 10 minutes of the final whistle in West Ham’s last game of the 2014/15 season. He now stands as England’s manager, tasked with taking the national team back to the glories of…well, Sven-Göran Eriksson’s regular quarter finals, at least. While Allardyce is a perfectly adept Premier League manager to a point, there is little correlation behind that status and success at international level; his is an appointment borne out of precious few alternatives and a circle of selections which have led the FA to believe that good old fashioned English attributes are the way forward being as all the other approaches have been exhausted.

We should remember that Big Sam was very much in the running for the top job after Eriksson announced he would be leaving after the 2006 World Cup. There was a similarly uninspired field of candidates then; indeed one could argue that Alan Curbishley and Martin O’Neill had greater credentials a decade ago than Steve Bruce or Eddie Howe have now. As the media began to focus on Sven’s nationality and perceived coldness when results and performances tailed off in his latter reign, the FA decided that a British manager was the only way forward and eventually plumped for McClaren, so embattled a short few months previously that a Middlesbrough season ticket holder confronted him pitchside during one of many chastening home defeats. With Allardyce’s departure from West Ham barely a year ago unmourned by many regulars at Upton Park, there is a parallel where a manager not long disliked by supporters who had to watch his football regularly has now been catapulted to what is, at least nominally, the top job in the country. A strange state of affairs. It’s extremely hard to imagine Spain, for example, appointing someone who’d recently been sacked by Real Sociedad, with unattractive football being one of the explicit driving reasons behind his departure.

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Like say, this guy.

Allardyce does at least have the advantage of being more toughened and savvy than McClaren was a decade ago. It’s unlikely he’ll be driven to dropping one of our better footballers purely to prove that he’s his own man and not connected with the previous regime, as McClaren did with David Beckham. It’s an extremely remote possibility that Sam will see fit to take lessons from PR gurus as to how to speak to the press, try out new formations in crucial qualifying games without the players being properly drilled, or indeed fail to ensure that England qualify for the next World Cup. So this is unlikely to be a disaster quite on the scale of the Steve McClaren era. It is, however, quite possible that Allardyce becomes a Graham Taylor figure a quarter of a century on; the style of football is similar, the bluff manner rings true, the nagging sense that no-one in top level international football really plays like a Taylor/Allardyce team is familiar. England were, of course, recently beaten by Iceland who played in a fashion that it’s likely Allardyce greatly appreciated, but it’s not that feasible that such tactics would really progress England to the level desired. Besides which, Iceland (or, one could easily argue, Wales) perform relative to the expectations of their nation and their tiny population. Playing on a regular basis as if you’re a League One team up against a Premier League team on an off day is unlikely to prove successful or popular in the long run.

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By the way, when people say it “can’t be any worse” with England at the moment, they are DEFINITELY wrong.

At present, Allardyce has a reasonably good standing with the media. He has a reasonable knack for a soundbite and it sells well when one of his teams rough-houses an expensively assembled team such as Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, or a predominantly foreign team such as Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal (with Wenger’s previous propensity to complain about the physical treatment meted out making for easy copy). This though, is relatively small potatoes; as with the Iceland/Wales example above when looking at tactics and approach, you can get away with that kind of siege mentality when you’re a legitimate underdog. There are relatively few occasions when England should be considered in such a way, perhaps only when they’re facing teams well established as one of the top ten in the world, so this is not a play Allardyce will be able to make often. This extends to other elements of his media handling; self-aggrandisement by suggesting you would regularly win titles at big clubs is an easy throwaway line when managing Blackburn, but a similar attitude won’t play well if England’s results are underwhelming. Throwing players under the bus is pretty much considered a no-go area for national managers, after all these players are only with you quasi-voluntarily in the first place. Belligerence is also a dangerous area, as it’s relatively small news if you goad your own fans at Upton Park when West Ham have scraped past 10 man Hull in the least impressive way imaginable, but try pulling that stunt when England have drawn at home with Slovenia. This is a job where Allardyce is going to be subject to more media attention than he’s ever come close to previously enduring and he has much work to do to convince that he has the gravitas (in the case of Bobby Robson) or genuine charm (cf Terry Venables) to convincingly pull it off. Should he indulge the worst excesses of his behaviour (which can be over-confrontational at very least) then his will be a very short honeymoon. While the media in this country might delight in documenting English failures (real or imagined), they also have on the whole sky high expectations of the national team. The skills of a diplomat are often required before a ball’s even been kicked.

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“How to win friends and influence people” by S. Allardyce. Foreword by Mrs Doubtfire

Dissecting Allardyce’s career in club management also gives us few clues as to why the FA have decided he is the man to take English football forward. It is undeniable that he did an excellent job at Bolton where he regularly exceeded expectations and dealt with big name players such as Jay-Jay Okocha, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Hierro and Youri Djorkaeff; he also left the club over nine years ago. This is, in football terms, as good as ancient history. It also remains overwhelmingly his high watermark in club management and yet was deemed insufficient a decade ago to earn him the England job. In deference to Steve McClaren. As such, it would seem a weak argument to use in favour of him taking the reins in 2016.

His spell at Newcastle was unfortunate from the point of view that he was appointed by owners who subsequently sold the club mere weeks later, and apparently never finding favour with Mike Ashley, was always to an extent on borrowed time. However, his sacking was merited on footballing terms when it came in January 2008. Despite reasonable investment on deeply questionable signings such as Alan Smith, Adboulaye Faye, Joey Barton (drummed out of Manchester City for assaulting a team mate and imprisoned for a separate assault months later) and Geremi, his team had slumped to a run of nine points in 12 games by the time he left the club. The style of football had devolved into aimless long balls at a strike force of 5’8” Michael Owen and 5’7” Obafemi Martins and Allardyce led Newcastle to haul of one point from two games against Derby County – the four points the Rams picked up in those games represented over a third of their entire haul for the season. While Newcastle proceeded to decline over the following 18 months and were subsequently relegated, this was more a consequence of Ashley deigning to appoint Kevin Keegan, Dennis Wise (as Director of Football), Joe Kinnear, Chris Hughton and Alan Shearer during that period rather than any of Allardyce’s fine work being undone. Interestingly, many Newcastle fans view Glenn Roeder’s tenure as superior to Allardyce’s. That’s Glenn Roeder, ladies and gentlemen.

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Has it sunk in yet? GLENN ROEDER. That’s who Newcastle fans prefer.

In that sense, we find a similar story at Blackburn. Yes, it is true that Sam did much better work than the man who directly preceded him. It is also true that he was a vastly superior manager than the man who followed him. Those two men were Paul Ince and Steve Kean; it really is not much of a stretch for any competent manager to outperform them at Premier League level. Allardyce did a reasonable stabilising job at Rovers but all he did was to return them to their natural place in the order while owned by the Walker Trust; a stable, mid-table Premier League team. It would be hard to argue that he did a superior job at Ewood Park in relation to Mark Hughes, who incidentally would seem to have a much better case for consideration for the England job than Allardyce should we choose to ignore nationality – younger, with better recent results in the Premier League, what is widely considered to be better football, a good understanding of international football thanks to his earlier time in charge of Wales and with experience of a club job at Manchester City that is much bigger than anything Allardyce has ever faced. As Jürgen Klinsmann was reportedly under serious consideration before Sam’s coronation, it can’t be that nationality was a particularly decisive factor and it’s odd that in such context, Hughes barely merited a mention in the press while what I and many others would consider a deeply inferior version of the same thing has taken control. It may be that he had no real interest, but nor does it seem the FA were especially interested in him.

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Plus you have to admire a man with thighs like that.

Sam took over from another disaster area of a manager in Avram Grant at West Ham; another easy tick for the CV, be better than a man who’s just relegated the club. His brief was to get the Hammers back into the Premier League and remain there. While it’s true that in bald, raw terms, he succeeded, the devil as ever is in the detail. West Ham finished 3rd in the Championship in 2011/12, despite their budget dwarfing everyone else in the league by a factor hitherto rarely seen at that level, and were forced into the playoffs where they narrowly succeeded in the final against Blackpool. His final season saw West Ham limp to the finish line with a mere three wins in their final 21 league games. There was plenty of perfectly acceptable work along the way with three successive mid-table finishes but that is all it was – perfectly acceptable. Managers don’t generally get handed better jobs because of “perfectly acceptable” work. Especially when that work has started to tend in the exact opposite direction of “perfectly acceptable” and you’re sacked because the football is abysmal to watch, as proved to be his fate at West Ham. Nor does it generally reflect well when your media-friendly, highly popular successor proceeds to turn the squad into one which plays extremely attractive football, qualifies for Europe and improves upon the previous season by a full 15 points.

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Everyone loves Slaven. Well, except Laurent Blanc, probably.

 

So, we move to his work at Sunderland. This can surely only have been the defining metric by which it was decided he was the best candidate available to manage England. With Jermain Defoe – arguably the best striker at any club outside the top eight – already on board before he arrived, Allardyce picked up 36 points from 30 games. Along the way he went on separate runs of five straight defeats and one win in 11 games. Now, the points haul he managed was sufficient to save Sunderland – mission accomplished for him and them, and kudos is due on that front (there’s a sad poetry in that survival being attained at the expense of a club managed by Steve McClaren for the majority of the season). But is that really evidence of a man cut out for managing an international team with continual designs on reaching the latter stages of tournaments? Extrapolated over a season, that ratio of points per game would earn Allardyce’s Sunderland around 46 points. He managed 46, 40 and 47 in his three Premier League seasons at West Ham. This is the mark of a manager who can get average teams to churn out average performances, heavy on defensive organisation and with a first instinct for survival…very similar to a certain Roy Hodgson (for the record, 46 points in his final season at Fulham, 47 in his final season at West Brom). If Hodgson failed, why should Allardyce succeed? If the skills of Hodgson proved to be incompatible with the England job, why should a man with a worryingly similar record do any better? The evidence seems extremely thin on the ground. Hodgson did at least have a track record of international management behind him and had reached two European finals at club level, so didn’t purely specialise in mid-table monotony.

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Something something new boss, something something old boss.

 

It remains to be seen what the future holds for the England team under Allardyce. As previously stated, he almost certainly has the wherewithal to negotiate a moderate qualifying group, not that winning 10 qualifying games out of 10 appeared to give Hodgson much credence with the media ahead of Euro 2016. In terms of raw results, it’s entirely possible that he may marginally improve on Hodgson’s tournament record of three wins in eleven games. But when we assess whether this is a man capable of producing tangible improvements, genuine achievements, progressing the many quality young English players who need encouragement to play naturally on the big stage, playing anything approaching attractive football or unifying the country behind a single cause, it seems doubtful. It’s fair to say that the pool of candidates was uninspiring at best; it wasn’t just the hot weather that’s been keeping me up lately, it’s also the thought of having Steve Bruce as England manager, and we dealt with the credentials of Glenn Hoddle in a previous blog at great length. But that doesn’t excuse the FA’s decision, this is one which will condemn the national team to two years of stasis, at best. Appoint an average manager and get average results will likely prove to be the message. Eventually they might learn.

THE ENDURING MYTH OF GLENN HODDLE

The former England boss is being linked with a return to the national job, with just one question remaining…Why?

1st July 2006. England are knocked out of the World Cup on penalties by Portugal, the reign of Sven-Göran Eriksson is over, a media storm grows over Wayne Rooney’s stamp on Ricardo Carvalho and the reaction of Cristiano Ronaldo in the aftermath. Understandable then that on the same day, the resignation of the manager of the club who have finished 8th in the second tier would be nothing more than a footnote in many outlets, even allowing for that manager being Glenn Hoddle. This of course being deliberate on Hoddle’s part; why would he seek to have his gross failure at a Championship club played out on a slow news day? He purposely set out to time his resignation shortly before kick off of that England game in Gelsenkirchen, knowing that regardless of the result, it would drown out coverage of his latest departure from club football. A calculating move but as so often with Hoddle, entirely missing the point; if he’d applied as much thought to his management of Wolves, he wouldn’t have been forced to slink away and do so at the most opportune moment to cover up to the wider world what a disaster he’d been.

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Coincidentally the same pose I pulled while watching most of his games.

So why is this relevant now? Well, once more England have had a tumultuous exit from a major tournament, and are once again looking for a new manager. At the time of writing, Hoddle is second favourite to succeed Roy Hodgson. Hoddle being linked to top jobs is nothing new of course; he’s routinely mentioned in the footballing media by Proper Football Men such as Ray Wilkins, Ian Wright and Kevin Keegan as some kind of coaching guru, a footballing sage sadly lost to the English game who just don’t bloody well understand his genius. This of course ignoring his actual record which we will return to and can be at best be described as uneven, if you were feeling particularly generous. However this time it appears to go beyond the witterings of the more banal end of the punditry scale; there appears to be actual traction in giving him another chance with the national team. A genuine chance this might happen. On numerous levels, this just makes no sense at all.

Like much in the world of sport, Hoddle’s reign as England manager appears to have been tinted with a significant helping of revisionism in the near 18 years since he left. Perception now seems to be that he was unfairly sawn off, that there was no footballing issue at all, he was merely told to go because of a media campaign surrounding unrelated comments he’d made regarding the disabled and reincarnation. However, when we actually examine his reign, it doesn’t stand up to a whole lot of scrutiny. It’s a litany of man management disasters and dodgy results.

  • Lost at home to Italy in qualification for the 1998 World Cup, playing Matt Le Tissier in an unfamiliar role as a conventional striker. Handed Ian Walker his first England start after David Seaman was ruled out with an injury, despite Walker himself carrying an injury. This was England’s first ever home defeat in a World Cup qualifying match.

  • Gave Le Tissier one final chance ahead of the World Cup to prove his credentials in a B international against Russia. Le Tissier scored a hat trick yet was still left out of the provisional squad for the tournament.

  • Presided over a 0-0 home draw with Saudi Arabia in a pre-tournament friendly, having previously lost at home to Chile earlier in the year.

  • Included an emotionally unstable Paul Gascoigne in the provisional squad, deciding after two tepid performances vs Morocco and Belgium in warm up games that he didn’t have the required level of fitness to make the final cut; didn’t inform Gascoigne in any way of his intentions prior to informing him of his exclusion. It’s almost certain that Gazza was no longer suitable for international football, but his fitness issues were well known before he was named for the squad and to have no dialogue with one of England’s most talented players of all time – someone with whom you would imagine Hoddle would empathise on at least some level – is a significant man-management failure.

  • Picked Les Ferdinand (five league goals in 97/98) ahead of Dion Dublin (eighteen league goals) for the final squad. Ferdinand went unused for the entire tournament and never played for England again.

  • Dropped David Beckham from the starting XI on the eve of the opening game vs Tunisia, allegedly due to his failure to perform a training drill to Hoddle’s satisfaction.

  • Failed to pick Michael Owen for the opening two games of the tournament, preferring Teddy Sheringham who had endured a tepid opening season with Manchester United.

  • Lost the second game of the World Cup to a moderate Romania team, condemning England to the tougher side of the draw (where they promptly lost to Argentina).

  • Opened qualifying for Euro 2000 with a dismal defeat in Sweden and a torpid 0-0 draw at Wembley with Bulgaria. When Hoddle left, England sat third in the group behind Sweden and Poland with their sole victory coming in Luxembourg.

Hoddle’s England tenure seems to be rose tinted by performances in Rome and Saint-Etienne against formidable Italy and Argentina teams; and there is little doubt that he did marshal the team well in those games, England playing with a hitherto little-seen tactical discipline. But England also failed to win either of those games. To ignore all his failures as noted above in favour of a pair of draws (one of which being ultimately fruitless after a defeat on penalties) seems remarkably generous. The football was possession-heavy, again a relative novelty at the time, but frequently lacking penetration and pace. Again the myth seems to be that Hoddle plays ‘good football’, when people actually mean that Hoddle favours a lot of short passing in his play. The two are mutually exclusive in this case.

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Remember, Glenn said this man was ‘not a natural goalscorer’.

We then turn to his club record. We alluded to his departure from Wolves at the start of the piece; in the intervening decade he has not managed anyone at all. Disconnected from front level management for that length of time, would any other major footballing country seriously consider such a candidate? This isn’t the time or place to pick over how incoherent and ultimately unsatisfying his reign at Molineux was – perhaps another time – but suffice to say that the following top flight finishes with Chelsea and Tottenham (full seasons only) since he left Swindon in 1993 also do not give us any indication that this is a man suitable for any kind of big job.

14th, 11th, 11th, 9th, 10th.

That’s the kind of record you would associate with someone such as Graeme Souness or Alan Curbishley rather than the supposed saviour of English football. He did, admittedly, do a good job at Swindon (well over 20 years ago, in the second tier, when he was still playing and also still the team’s best player) and his short term work at Southampton was sufficiently impressive to earn him the Tottenham job. But that all seems rather flimsy evidence on which to hand someone the national job.

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Other mid-table managers are available.

Next we examine his character. We have already touched on his departure from Wolves and the scheming machinations behind it, where it was more important for him to cover his reputation than consider any other factors – worth noting for those non-Wolves supporting readers that this resignation left us without a manager, with a squad of around 15 senior outfield players and no signings lined up around five weeks before the start of the season. His departure from Southampton was acrimonious and left much bitterness between them and Tottenham for many years. However the central tenet of this aspect is that Hoddle was ultimately sacked for the comments he made which related to the rather strange set of religious beliefs he holds. It would be fair to assume that he still holds those beliefs, he hasn’t to anyone’s knowledge renounced his faith or re-assessed his position. If those beliefs were deemed to be unacceptable for the England manager in 1998, why would they be acceptable now? Or are they just ok providing that he doesn’t air them publicly again? The FA take a lot of criticism, much of it richly deserved, but they have made significant steps in recent times to promote disability football, offering significant funding and support to a side of the game which was previously much neglected. Can that really be countenanced with employing a man to the highest footballing office in the country who once said:

‘I have got an inner belief and an inner faith with God. I do believe spiritually we have to progress because we’ve been here before. The physical body is just an overcoat for your spirit. At death you take the overcoat off and your spirit will go on to another life in a spirit dimension.

‘I think we make mistakes when we are down here and our spirit has to come back and learn. That’s why there is an injustice in the world. Why there’s certain people born into the world with terrible physical problems and why there’s a family who has got everything right, physically and mentally.’

You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.’

When you make such comments, I don’t personally believe that you can just wipe them clean because you made them a long time ago.

Lastly, if Hoddle hasn’t been managing anyone for the last ten years, what has he actually been doing? He founded an Academy in Spain for players released by English clubs who failed to secure a deal anywhere else; a laudable enough project even if the returns were unspectacular. Ikechi Anya and Sam Clucas are the only two ‘graduates’ to make any kind of significant impact on professional football since, and link ups with Jerez Industrial and Hyde being unsatisfactory. He had a brief spell coaching at QPR under Harry Redknapp where he was instructed to drill the squad on how best to play 3-5-2. QPR abandoned that formation after three games of the following season. He has performed extensive punditry duties with ITV on England games. It is here that the folly of Hoddle’s great footballing mind is most exposed. Superficially, should you choose to let the words wash over you, he certainly sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. When you analyse what he’s saying, it’s a hotchpotch of rambling, disjointed English with bizarre conclusions – just to pick a recent example, his nomination of Danny Rose as England’s man of the match against Turkey was completely at odds with what most people had seen from a left back who was perpetually out of position and wasteful on the ball. As a ten year entry on a CV, it’s what you might kindly describe as ‘thin’.

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Glenn found the perfect CV template.

Glenn Hoddle is a man with an at best mediocre track record, a history of being fundamentally incapable of dealing with people in a constructive manner, multiple character flaws and coming off the back of doing virtually nothing for an entire decade. This isn’t a case of ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, it’s a case of the Emperor not even understanding what clothes are in the first place. There have been spectacularly bad England appointments in the past – this would trump the lot.