Jamie's embarrassment is misplaced

Jamie Carragher is peddling a ‘Little Englander' mentality which has no relevance in a modern sporting world which embraces pluralism and pursues quality, writes Frank Malley.

Jamie Carragher is a bright lad and one day he will make a top football manager. He is blessed with a ready Scouse wit and forthright opinions, many of which he conveys fearlessly. Yet sometimes he is just plain wrong.

Telling the Football Association they are cheating by employing a foreign manager for the England national team, the current incumbent being Italian Fabio Capello, is such an occasion.

“If your manager's not good enough, that's your country's fault. Get a better manager. Do the coaching qualification better,” Carragher told talkSPORT.

“I think it's a form of cheating at international football and it's a bit embarrassing.”

Of course, it is a point of view and it is a fact that top footballing nations such as Germany, Italy and Brazil have never appointed a foreign boss.

No doubt Carragher has supporters, prompted by the failures of Capello and predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson, who believe the home of football, too, should be led by a home-grown manager.

A man such as Harry Redknapp, perhaps, who is favourite to take over when Capello departs following the European Championship next summer.

But it is not joined-up logic. It is quaint thinking, back in a sporting age when the English first division was full of home-grown players and Yorkshire cricket insisted on being represented by 11 men, no doubt capable of reciting ‘On Ilkley Moor Bar t'At', while having been born in the confines of the county.

That is no longer the real world.

By Carragher's reckoning so much of British sport would be an ‘embarrassment'.

Such as England's cricket team who achieved an Ashes victory in Australia and marched to their current position as the number one side in the world under a head coach in Andy Flower who was born in Cape Town and played 63 Test matches for Zimbabwe.

Such as Wales rugby union team who go into battle in the World Cup against Ireland led by a New Zealander in head coach Warren Gatland.

Such as great Britain's Olympic athletes whose preparations for London 2012 are being overseen by cerebral Dutchman and head coach of UK athletics, Charles van Commenee.

Will you feel a twinge of embarrassment if Sheffield's Jessica Ennis wins gold in the Olympics next summer? No, didn't think so.

Will you feel as if somehow Britain had cheated if 5,000m world champion Mo Farah, born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and who arrived in Britain when he was eight years old, benefited from Van Commenee's tutelage to win a gold in London? Again, no.

Carragher is peddling a ‘Little Englander' mentality which has no relevance in a modern sporting world which embraces pluralism and pursues quality. Redknapp must not be chosen as the next national manager because he is English, any more than Arsene Wenger must be excluded because he is French.

Redknapp is in the frame because he just might possibly be the best man for the job. For so many reasons, one of which is that he speaks a footballing language which appears to appeal to the English player, in stark contrast to the fragmented uttering of Capello.

There is no question Capello's problems of communication have brought concerns for England during the past four years.

There has been a coldness to his reign, a lack of camaraderie and togetherness which is not designed to get the best out of the average English player.

Yet Capello brought discipline when it was sorely needed and a focus on technical excellence when the real embarrassment was the amount of times an English player passed the ball to a man in a different coloured shirt. That should not be forgotten.

It is right that players must conform to strict qualifications for selection. They are the ones ultimately who cross the whitewash and do battle for their country.

But the passport of the manager is irrelevant.

***

Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart complains that he does not like playing on the right wing because it means he has to track back and defend.

Ah, bless, the thing's you are asked to do for GBP100,000 a week.

There is no doubt the Dutchman's best position is in the centre, a fact conceded by manager Harry Redknapp. Yet, with Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe playing superbly, surely even the White Hart Lane tea lady can see what Van der Vaart should do.

For those who cannot Redknapp put it succinctly in his newspaper column: “Rafa is a terrific footballer. He has great skill. But if you're in the team and asked to do a job, really, you should just do it.”

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