You know how sometimes you look at the news and basically nothing is happening? NOT IN THE PAST 24 HOURS!
Rick frickin’ Santorum eh? Swooping back into the GOP nomination race like a bigoted eagle!
Fabio Capello eh? Walking out on England like a man doing the only possible thing in a ridiculous situation!
Harry Redknapp eh? Getting acquitted of tax evasion and becoming favourite for the England job like an aging cockney Roy of the Rovers!
OK so football politics is a long way from real American politics, but from where I was sitting all those stories had that breathless quality where you can’t stop checking back every ten minutes to see if there have been new developments, and are entirely comfortable with the idea of continuing to read about them for the next several days.
On the GOP nomination thing… Well, I wish I had said a couple of months ago that I thought Mitt Romney would have deep problems in this race. Do you remember 2008? He flopped pretty bad! The most memorable thing anyone said about his candidacy that time around was that he didn’t pass the smell test. The fact that this time he has spent so long as the Republicans’ frontrunner (and let’s admit, is still a legitimate favourite for the nomination) should be telling us that this is a hella weak field. All the smart guys are waiting for 2012: the real Republican heavyweights will get involved when they don’t have to face off against Obama (see also: Democrat field in 2004 vs. Democrat field in 2008. Yeah).
On Capello and England: the presumption of innocence is a good thing. As far as I understand it, Capello’s beef with the FA is that by stripping John Terry of the England captaincy, they have declared him guilty [of racial abuse, for those not following this kinda thing] before he’s stood trial. But that fails to appreciate the circumstances, which are that the trial is due to be held right after this summer’s European Championships and would completely overshadow them if Terry was still captain. I think it’s truly bizarre that the FA didn’t consult with Capello before the decision was announced (to all appearances, anyway. If they did, and Capello’s still behaving like this, well, that’s another story), thus fatally undermining his authority. But there you are. Perhaps this was all a ruse to get rid of him anyway. Because despite a few decent wins in qualifying (against Croatia in particular), Capello’s England have been humdrum at best and pretty awful much of the rest of the time.
To echo just about everyone else with an opinion on the matter: yes, Harry Redknapp would be a completely ideal candidate to manage England. His management style is not to overcomplicate training and tactics – impossible with a squad that’s only together for a few weeks at a time – and to bring the best out of players, especially those who have been underperforming. Those are probably the two most important skills for someone taking on England right now: the players have barely risen to their (limited) potential since September 2001, and the manager will need to make things happen in a very short time. He would use straightforward tactics that the players are comfortable with – and he’s also not dumb when it comes to changing tricky matches. Especially in the 2010-11 season, he helped Tottenham convert a lot of losing into winning situations with switches of formation and personnel. Critical in knock-out football, where everything could come down to making the right call at half time in a quarter final.
Um. Oh yeah, the Tottenham thing. Well, I’d love to see him do the England job part time, and devote the rest of this season to Spurs. We’d then see how things were after the European Championships. Maybe it would be best if England won – he’d know it couldn’t get any better and bow out on a high, to return to Tottenham and the Champions’ League. But I would guess he’ll leave permanently – he’s spoken enough times of wanting to manage England. So, you know. Good luck to him.