Redknapp is the right man, but not right now

Published : Feb 23, 2012 00:00 IST

Let Stuart Pearce, the man supposedly put in place four years ago to ensure continuity and who has been asked to take charge of the side against Holland later this month, lead England to the Euros. Then appoint a permanent successor, preferably Redknapp. By Frank Malley.

The queue of people anxious to install Harry Redknapp as the next manager of England would comfortably fill every football stadium in the land.

Pundits extol his managerial qualities, bookies slash his odds and players, led by Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, support him on Twitter. England as a nation appears lined up behind Redknapp, whose acquittal on tax evasion charges and the two-week excoriation of his life and personality which accompanied it has almost acted as the most public job interview in recent history.

Yet if Redknapp is offered and takes the job which Fabio Capello vacated so dramatically after falling out with his Football Association employers over the issue of John Terry and the lost captaincy, it must not be because of a wave of populism.

It must be because he is the best man for the job. On balance he is.

Yes, better, all things weighed up, than Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink and any home candidate at this point in England's development with the FA seeking to provide strong governance and intent on getting the England manager involved in the long-term process of improving all aspects of the English game.

Redknapp might not be able to send a text and by his own admission writes like a two-year old, but there are few better communicators in football.

Few more accomplished in the art of man-management and, heaven knows, that is a quality essential these days in an England dressing room containing tricky characters and strained relationships.

Tactically, perhaps, he is no genius but he does possess that rare skill of building teams with blend and balance.

So Redknapp it is. But not, if the FA has any sense, until after Euro 2012, despite FA chairman, David Bernstein, confirming the Club England board will be meeting to draw up a shortlist.

Bernstein confirmed the FA prefers a British manager. He wants to appoint one to “include the desires and wishes of the fans”. One to imbue the players with “confidence” especially when playing at Wembley.

He might just as well have held up a picture of Redknapp.

There is just one problem. Redknapp's head right now must be spinning from his court appearance and his five-year fight to prove his innocence. Only a couple of months ago he underwent a hospital procedure after a heart scare. His club Tottenham, who stood by him steadfastly throughout his recent problems, are in contention for the English Premier League title and look like securing at least a UEFA Champions League place.

If a deal could be worked out is it really the time to shovel the weight of expectation onto his shoulders which always accompanies England at a major tournament? Can Redknapp really let down Tottenham mid-season after all that has gone on? Surely not.

Much better if the FA were to wait, like their counterparts at the Rugby Union. Install an interim coach. Let Stuart Pearce, the man supposedly put in place four years ago to ensure continuity and who has been asked to take charge of the side against Holland later this month, lead England to the Euros. Then appoint a permanent successor, preferably Redknapp.

That might not be the sexy alternative to Capello's leaving, but it would be the right one for the long-term future of England football.

Let's face it, England are not going to win Euro 2012 with or without Redknapp or Mourinho or Hiddink. They lag some way behind Spain and Holland and Germany, all of whom play vibrant, passing, possession football.

It is the World Cup in 2014 and beyond which the FA should be working towards.

A word here for Capello.

Yes, his, departure largely has been unlamented, but let's not forget the rag-tag, undisciplined bunch of underachievers England were when he took over.

Capello delivered steel and focus and his qualification campaigns for World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 were impressive.

There is no getting away from the World Cup shambles in South Africa, but Capello grasped the nettle of England's future in the last 18 months and it is there for all to see in players such as Jack Wilshere, Kyle Walker, Jack Rodwell, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck. Managers do not win major trophies. Players do.

Whoever is appointed, however, England need the man to be brave and canny enough to sweep aside those who have had copious chances and failed.

Frank Lampard, Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard fall into that bracket. So does Terry.

It was Capello's loyalty to Terry, who was first stripped of the captaincy two years ago over problems arising from his private life, which ultimately led to his downfall.

Now the armband has been lost again and you have to wonder whether a 31-year-old with injury problems, whose pace is suspect at the highest level and who has a penchant for controversy is worth the trouble.

Forget ethical considerations, there is a case for ditching Terry now on footballing grounds.

The new manager, whoever it is, should make that his first priority.

© PA Sport, 2012, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.

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