The position of England manager is a curious one. At one time it was the most prestigious role in English football and arguably world football. Now though many would consider it a poisoned chalice. Not since Bobby Robson more than a quarter of a century ago now has a manager been more successful after leaving the England job than they were prior to taking it.
Top foreign managers such as Sven and Fabio Capello have taken on the challenge and both have failed. Some of the most highly regarded domestic coaches have also tried their hand, with similar and often even less success. However, following defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016, the English national team are arguably at the lowest point in their history, and which manager they appoint next could well be a defining moment.
There is no outstanding English candidate. With only five English managers in the Premier League, there is far from an abundance of talented domestic coaches. The FA has often been criticised for seemingly avoiding brash or outspoken candidates in favour of 'safer' options, who perhaps have been less qualified and talented. Here are the top 15 candidates to be the next England manager:
15 Laurent Blanc
Laurent Blanc has a very credible record as a manager. The Frenchman did very well with Bordeaux, before taking France to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and subsequently becoming the PSG manager, where he won 11 trophies in three years. Having said that, the Ligue 1 title was almost a given at PSG, and he didn't manage to progress beyond the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.
Blanc has some experience at the international level as well, having managed the French national team between 2010 and 2012. Blanc took the team over at their absolute worst, coming off the abomination that was their 2010 World Cup under Raymond Domench. Blanc brought the French to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Euro, before they lost to eventual champions Spain. Blanc stepped down after that tournament.
Blanc played in England with Manchester United and has experience at international level, but is likely to be a long shot for the job.
14 Steve Bruce
There are only five English managers in the Premier League, and four of them make this list. The first is Steve Bruce. The Hull City manager is considered one of the finest English players to never win a cap for his country, but has already described it as an honour to be linked with the job. Bruce has never won a major trophy, nor managed at a top club, but came close with Hull in 2014, when he reached the FA Cup final. He is a motivator and has very good man management skills, but his tactical credentials may be a little questionable.
Bruce has a fire under his belly, which is something that the England national team has appeared to be lacking in recent tournaments. Their loss in the Round of 16 game to Iceland displayed how much the Iceland team wanted it more than the English side. If nothing else, at least Bruce would instill some fire in this squad.
13 Manuel Pellegrini
Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini speaks good English and has experience in the English top flight with Manchester City, giving him an edge over some of the other foreign managers linked with the job. He has never managed at international level but won 28 caps for Chile as a player and has managed top clubs such as River Plate, Real Madrid and Man City. The Chilean can boast about having won 10 trophies but he is 62 and unlikely to be among the favourites to get the role.
Pellegrini also has a potentially lucrative offer on the table from AC Milan, who were just sold to a Chinese consortium. The deal would pay Pellegrini £4.7 million a season, so it would be very hard for Pellegrini to turn that down for what we be the most stressful job in all of world football.
12 Diego Simeone
Most would agree that Diego Simeone would be an excellent England manager. Whether or not the England job is now preferable to managing an Atletico Madrid side who consistently compete for major Spanish and European honours is debatable. The Argentine is highly-driven and a natural-born winner, although some feel his teams do not play the most attractive brand of football. Simeone is also well-known to England fans as being the man who got David Beckham sent off at the 1998 World Cup, which could count against him.
Either way, Simeone has brought Atletico Madrid to a very high level, as they won La Liga this year and have been to the Champions League Final in two of the last three seasons. Even if his team's style of play isn't the most attractive, England is starved for a major victory in a tournament, and if Simeone can get them there, why not him?
11 Slaven Bilic
Few would be unhappy with the appointment of Slaven Bilic as England manager, except for West Ham fans of course. The Croatian has been a breath of fresh air since returning to the Premier League as a manager. Both his management style and punditry have been classy, entertaining and successful. His signing of Dimitri Payet at West Ham has been a masterclass and he certainly seems to get the best out of his players. Once again, there would be question marks over whether he would leave his club side, and he may be too outspoken for the FA, who often prefer a quieter character.
Bilic was outspoken following England's exit at Euro 2016, saying he had warned them of the threat of Iceland.
"Iceland are not a great team but they have been doing well for two years. They were in a qualifying group which included Holland, the Czech Republic and Turkey — and beat all of them at home. They are very good in the way they play. It is pragmatic rather than attractive but they get results."
10 Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer threw his own name into the hat the second England lost 2-1 to Iceland in the knockout stages of Euro 2016. A former England international himself, Shearer has always been a very passionate guy who cares deeply about the England team. Passion and results are not necessarily closely tied though, and Shearer's only managerial experience was getting Newcastle relegated, which probably rules him out. It's going to take more than a guy who has experience with the national side. The next manager England hires has to be a sure thing, and Shearer would be anything but that.
For what it's worth, Shearer has also said that if it's not him, he wants another Englishman in charge of the team, but at this point, England should really just hire the best man for the job.
9 Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger would be a controversial choice as England manager. The Arsenal boss has had very mixed fortunes with the Gunners, from his remarkable invincible season to supporters calling for his head after 9 years without a trophy. Wenger certainly has a strong philosophy and style in which he likes his teams to play. Whether he is a born winner is up for debate though, and if it's instant success the FA are after, Wenger might not be their man. Yet again, there's a good chance Wenger would rather remain as Arsenal manager than take the reigns at England.
When asked about his interest in the managing the national team, Wenger said he wouldn't rule out that possibility. "Could I manage England? Why not? I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focused in club football. I have one more year to go with Arsenal and I have been with them for a long time. I have always respected all my contracts and will continue to do that. What will I do after that? Honestly, I don’t know."
8 Glenn Hoddle
A former England manager and one who understands the pressures and demands which the role involves. Hoddle has been out of management for a decade now, and it is 20 years since he first took over as England manager. An extremely naturally gifted player who won 53 caps for his country, Hoddle's only major tournament as England manager was the 1998 World Cup, in which the country was knocked out on penalties by Argentina.
Hoddle showed tremendous courage going into that tournament when he left fan favorite Paul Gascoigne off the team, deeming that he wasn't fit going into the tournament. While Hoddle took a lot of criticism for the move, it turned out to be a shrewd one, as Gascoigne was indeed in a very bad state heading into the 1998 tournament.
His last managerial job was with the Wolverhampton Wanderers FC from 2004 to 2006.
7 Jurgen Klinsmann
A German managing England seems highly unusual, but that hasn't stopped Jurgen Klinsmann from being heavily linked with the vacant England managerial position. The former Tottenham player is currently in charge of the USMNT, and there has been a mixed response from Americans regarding Klinsmann's possible departure. He took the USMNT to the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, won the 2013 Gold Cup and finished fourth at the 2016 Copa America. Prior to managing in the U.S., Klinsmann was the head coach of the German national team and briefly at Bayern Munich.
Klinsmann has based himself across the pond since resigning as manager of the German team in 2006 and coming all the way back to manage England would be quite the journey.
All in all, Klinsmann has done a wonderful job with the USMNT and has built their profile. He'd have far superior talent to work with in England and that superior talent could allow Klinsmann to have greater success in major tournaments.
6 Alan Pardew
He ticks the boxes of being English and managing in the Premier League, but Alan Pardew's reputation for making the headlines for the wrong reasons at times mean he is unlikely to interest the FA. The former Newcastle manager and current Crystal Palace boss has already said he would like the England job but later in his career than now. Palace have done some good business in this transfer window and Pardew will be hoping to keep them in the Premier League again next season.
Pardew has weighed in on the vacant position and even blasted Alan Shearer when he threw his name in the hat, saying: "It makes my blood boil when pundits on TV, such as Alan Shearer, say 'I'll do it'," stated Pardew, in his Daily Mail column. "He was a top, top striker but he has no coaching qualifications and his only experience as a manager was very brief — when he took Newcastle down into the Championship."
5 Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has already ruled himself out of the race to be the next England manager, but already holding a position within the FA and being regarded as someone who would do a good job of toeing the party line mean many refuse to dismiss his chances. Southgate has only managed Middlesbrough at club level and England U-21's at international level, and has arguably failed in both roles. Southgate won 57 caps for England as a player, as well as representing Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
Southgate may not get the job this time around, but the job will inevitably open up again at some point, especially if England were to disappoint again at Russia 2018. It may be a matter of time until Southgate takes the leap and tries his hand at managing at the international level.
4 Sam Allardyce
The current favourite for the England job and someone who the FA have a clear interest in, Sam Allardyce is another English Premier League manager. The former Bolton boss is a no-nonsense manager who gets his teams organized and is very results-driven. He is currently the manager of Sunderland AFC, who he kept in the Premier League last season, having taken over with the club in a dangerous position. Allardyce is well-respected but has never managed a traditional top club or won a major trophy; his style of play is also called into question by some and he has no international experience.
Kevin Davies, a former player under Allardyce, gave a strong endorsement for his old boss. "Where we are now as a nation, I think he is probably the right man," said Davies. "Motivation-wise, he is fantastic, the best I have ever worked with. He knows how to get the best out of a player. He has a lot of other strengths, too. He surrounds himself with the best people in the best roles, which allows him to plan and get the best out of his squad."
3 Mauricio Pochettino
A lot of people's pick for the next England manager is Mauricio Pochettino. The former Argentine international defender has spent the last three years in England and done a fine job at both Southampton and Tottenham. His Spurs players make up almost half of the England starting XI, but few replicate their club form in an England shirt. Pochettino is renowned for getting the best out of his players, bringing through youth and playing an exciting, high-tempo pressing game which many people feel would suit England.
The Tottenham boss just signed a contract extension with the club this past April, so prying him from Spurs might be tough. The FA would have to make quite a generous offer for Pochettino to consider leaving such a good situation at Tottenham. We'll have to see if they feel he truly is the best man for the job.
2 Guus Hiddink
Guus Hiddink is an extremely experienced manager who has managed the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and the Dutch national team. He has won 13 major trophies as a manager and has reached the last 4 of a major international tournament with three different countries; the Netherlands, South Korea and Russia over the last 18 years, which is further than England have managed to get in that time. He is 69 years old and may not fancy the job, having been out of work since taking the reigns as interim coach at Chelsea.
Many questions have arised about the English national team. Besides their talent level, many are questioning if there's a sense of togetherness in the locker room and if their sense of pride is big enough to be representing their country. Whoever the next manager is will have to instill this in them.
1 Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe is many people's choice to be the next England manager. Young, talented and exciting, Howe has defied the odds in taking AFC Bournemouth to the Premier League for the first time in their history, and even managed to keep them there in their debut season. Howe himself is just 38 and has only one years experience in the top flight, which could hinder his chances, but many would like to see Howe given the opportunity with a long-term vision of success.
Perhaps the fact that Howe is young and energetic could work in his and England's favor. The team needs a boost in motivation and Howe would have no trouble providing that. Plus, we've seen plenty of experienced coaches fail to do much with the English squad, so why not give someone who's young and hungry an opportunity?
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