Answers on a postcard the last time the England team did anything without a Geordie in the line-up or hot seat.
Alan Shearer – from his brilliant BBC documentary on Euro ’96 to showing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi how to take penalties in his back garden pre-tournament – has been more up for France 2016 than most of the England players.
A man with his finger on the pulse of English football offering dynamic insight was what England needed in the dug out yet instead he was in the Match of the Day studio, where last night he threw his hat into the ring to manage England.
Roy Hodgson resigned as England manager after his latest inept Three Lions team selection limped out of The Euros to an organised, committed yet limited and ordinary Iceland side.
This was not a failure that can be blamed on Brexit, a long Premier League season or the failure of grass-roots football, lack of English talent and the usual excuses – it is simply the catastrophic failure of one man to pick the 23 best, in-form English players to represent the nation then pick a team of players capable of winning football matches.
With the right man in charge picking & playing the best, form players from the exciting players England are blessed with – Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Andros Townsend & Danny Drinkwater – England could have gone far in the tournament.
That man is Alan Shearer who must now be given the task of leading England to the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Throughout the Euros, Match of the Day pundit Shearer has been on the ball, ahead of the game offering dynamic insights into what England could & should be doing – giving perhaps for the first time on television a real glimpse of the authoritative leader England’s players must have saw in the dressing room before key games when he was Captain.
BBC viewers regularly heard the impassioned voice of the former England Captain booming out of the TV studio & delivering his urgent insights via Twitter – some of which the England management seemed to rightly heed immediately.
He was the first major football figure to demand Harry Kane be taken off corner-taking duty and instead get in the box where he could cause problems and add to the 20+ goals he scored in The Premier League last season. If the match last night had been live on the BBC rather than ITV, the in-the-loop influence Shearer clearly had on the England set-up, England may still even be in the tournament.
Pre-Euros, Shearer questioned why in-form Premier League midfielder of the season, Leicester City Champion Danny Drinkwater wasn’t in the final 23-man squad as well as Newcastle’s Andros Townsend, a man on fire busting a gut to keep Newcastle United in The Premier League & advance his own claims for England.
Yet Hodgson seemed to operate from the theoretical blueprint and team he developed 5 years ago rather than fresh reality and refused to allow changing circumstances like a season-long injury to Jack Wilshire or the emergence of exciting Premier League talents like Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford change that fixed idea.
Even mid-tournament, changes need to be made, tactics tweaked, form players brought in & others left out. Hodgson lacked the ruthlessness to do so as he should have done when Joe Hart’s error from Gareth Bale’s free-kick after an error-strewn season – his 3rd mistake in 5 internationals – nearly cost England their Euros place. His 4th cost an early brexit as the keeper himself testified in his post-match interview, gutted yet angry at suggestions England didn’t ‘want’ it enough –
“Were going to have to take some responsibility and myself personally I’m going to have to take responsibility, I should have saved at least 2 goals that have happened in this tournament so it put us in a bad situation and we weren’t able to recover from it.”
Shearer watches The Premier League week in, week out for a living, commentating for Match of the Day and penning columns for various newspapers showing a cutting-edge knowledge of the modern football industry and eye for detail. He has been there, seen it all, done it all and got the strip as a top international and club player and is demonstrating mastery of the game via his expert pundit role.
When asked by Gary Lineker after watching Match of the Day’s Iceland ‘highlights’ whether he would take the England job on, Shearer explained he had approached The FA four or five years ago saying he wanted the role only to be told he lacked the required experience despite pointing out the fact England have tried experience before unsuccessfully.
True, Shearer only has 8 Premier League games to his management CV with Newcastle, whom he ultimately failed to turnaround after a disastrous season involving four managers – Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear & Chris Hughton. Yet he boasts a world-class CV as a top international and club footballer including Captaining his country to the Semi-Finals of a European Championship tournament in 1996 and winning the Golden Boot and World Cup Quarter-Finals, Premier League Champion with Blackburn Rovers and All-Time Premier League Top Goalscorer with 260 goals & record Newcastle goalscorer.
Crucially, playing under some of the best managers the English game had in the last 30 years – Sir Bobby Robson, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, Terry Venables – he’s served an apprenticeship in management under genuine football masters.
The German equivalent of Shearer – Jurgen Klinsmann – assumed the job of Germany Head Coach as his first position in management in 2004 having passed his licence and along with Oliver Bierhoff, guided Die Mannshaft to bronze at the 2006 World Cup, kickstarting the modern excellence of the German national football team.
Stepping into the England role now after disastrous Euros, Shearer would be taking control at the same stage Klinsmann did after Germany crashed out of Euro 2004, failing to qualify from the group.
Of the managers being linked with the now vacant England manager post, current U21 England Head Coach Gareth Southgate is the bookies favourite at 2-1 with Alan Pardew 10/1 next yet Pardew, like a lot of top managers are currently involved in long-term Premier League projects.That Shearer offered to work in tandem with Gareth Southgate should he get the job as a potential assistant, advisor or experienced mentor for the young players shows the kind of passion and genuine desire to want to help his country that England need.
Clearly exacerbated by the state of play at both England and his home town team Newcastle, Shearer is desperate to show what he can do in a management hot-seat he cares about and has demonstrated willing and all of the attributes – expert knowledge, tactical acumen, communication, leadership and passion – necessary for the job.
Expecting to beat Iceland was not arrogance nor was thinking England should have had a chance of winning the tournament with the players we have at our disposal.
With Shearer in charge, England may even win the 4 or 5-0 that is his stock phrase on Match of the Day when describing a team’s missed chances that he himself would have certainly scored.
Whether leading out his Three Lions side proudly with the Captain’s armband round his arm in front of 90,000 at Wembley or 52,000 at St James’ Park, Shearer is a born leader respected by players, managers and fans alike and exactly what The Three Lions need – England cannot afford to miss a second chance of securing him as national team manager.
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