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The FA: Floundering, foolish and without a clue.

Thursday 6th October 2016
As Mr T would say "I pity the fools", those ones that are charged with running English football that is. A bunch of highly paid administrators who manage the richest national football association in world, seemingly lurching from one farce to another.

The humiliating summer the FA and England suffered in France, was only magnified by the international embarrassment of “Brexit,” has now been compounded with the Sam Allardyce fiasco.
Poor Gareth Southgate is the latest to be shoehorned into the most thankless job in the world. Southgate would fare better charging Russian artillery with the Light Brigade during The Crimean War. Southgate has a great interview for the job, taking temporary charge for four games which begin with gentle fixtures against Malta and Slovenia. If he is as sensible as he seems he will conclude that interview by turning down the permanent job with a 100% record to his name.

The fact we're even at this point is hilarious in its absurdity. Allardyce's predecessor Roy Hodgson was appointed as a temp and kept on longer than he should have been so the FA could put off handling the tricky issue of choosing the next Ingerlund manager. Tricky because years of looking for a quick fix and the resurgence of political nationalism gave the FA a problem. Appoint the right man, and it would be a foreign manager which would send many fans into a xenophobic rage egged on by the worst elements of the media.

Instead, the FA chose to appease the jingoistic tub-thumpers, many of whom embarrassed the country and The FA with their behaviour in France, and appointed Allardyce. Maybe the country needed a big dose of “Big Sam,” if only just to remind us once and for all that we're not very good at this football thing over here anymore. Unfortunately – for Allardyce at least – due to greed and stupidity he never even got the chance to fail. He exited after one game with a perfect winning record.

Now the clamour for a manager has left us with few options all are fairly unappealing. The young charges of Southgate and Eddie Howe don't seem to be interested and the personal choice of the FA's Director of Elite Development – whatever that means – Dan Ashworth , is Ralf Rangnick . A man who looks and sounds suspiciously foreign for our liking thank you!

This all leaves us with Alan Pardew and Steve Bruce . Decent managers they are, but neither are top level managers with sparkling records and imposing auras and yes, those things are important. Not just for getting something more than utter tripe out of the senior squad but to have the fortitude to propose ideas for root and branch reform in English football.

Any previous notions the FA, the media and England at large had of winning anything by 2022 can be flushed down the toilet with the current approach to running the national game. English players are constantly talked up but haven't delivered a trophy for half a century now. This is not a coincidence. They are simply not good enough and neither are the people coaching them due to a deluded sense of superiority we've had since time began.

In recent years the success and Hollywood sparkle of the Premier League – now a parallel governing body in all but name – had deluded us all. The stellar club showings in Europe and furiously entertaining football made us believe we were the best.

Those feats however, have been achieved with foreign players and foreign coaches who populate the top jobs, not because they are exotic or look like a cool, attractive history lecturer but because they are better. Howe became my new hero when he echoed that same sentiment in an interview stating that homegrown coaches need to prove themselves good enough for the top jobs. As opposed to moaning that their name is not “Alllardici” or “Pardeaux” was what you could read between Howe's lines

They were educated in countries where long-term excellence was targeted rather than a quick victory at the soonest opportunity. Losing today to learn how to win tomorrow and the next day and the day after and where intelligence was not viewed as a character defect. Germany essentially sacrificed their own world cup in 2006 to secure success that would easier to maintain for a longer period further down the line. That reform of the grassroots level of the German game and careful planning won them the 2014 World Cup with a manager who failed at club level. England in the same eight-year period, regressed.

These piercing loud alarm bells should prompt the powers-that-be to bang their heads together and plan for the long-term. Then again with a Prince, a token woman rendered powerless and a bunch of old, foolish white men running the show, nobody should be holding their breath anytime soon.
Mike Knight
Writer, maker, candlestick baker. Pens articles on Football, film and politics.

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