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Hats off to FA for forcing out Fabio Capello – now hire Harry Redknapp and maybe England will have a chance at Euro 2012

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You can dress it up any which way you want but Fabio Capello has quit as England manager hours after saying he would not walk away from the job – and that can only mean the Italian resigned before he got the boot.

Congratulations are in order to the Football Association and their chairman David Bernstein for  getting tough and all they need to do now, as I’ve been urging them for more than a year is to appoint Harry Redknapp.

There is no coincidence that the announcement came hours after the Spurs boss was dramatically cleared of tax evasion by a jury that delivered a unanimous verdict. Everyone knew that the Inland Revenue were wasting millions of pounds of public money with their ridiculous case against Harry and his ex-Portsounth boss Milan Mandaric.

It’s been a truly remarkable day – but no more than I predicted in my blog on Monday urging the FA to sack Capello and hire Harry as soon as he is cleared by the courts.

Redknapp has yet to be offered the job. But this time the FA will not get away with failing to appoint the people’s choice, as they did all those years ago when they failed to make outspoken genius Brian Clough the manager of England.

Never have I welcomed an FA statement more than this evening’s that read: “The Football Association can confirm that Fabio Capello has today resigned as England manager.”

The statement went on: “This follows a meeting involving FA chairman David Bernstein, FA general secretary Alex Horne and Fabio Capello at Wembley Stadium. The discussions focused on the FA board’s decision to remove the England team captaincy from John Terry, and Fabio Capello’s response through an Italian broadcast interview.

“In a meeting for over an hour, Fabio’s resignation was accepted and he will leave the post of England manager with immediate effect.”

Bernstein said the resignation was the right course of action and you can take that as all the confirmation you need that this was what the FA wanted.

There is no doubt that Redknapp will accept an FA offer to accept the England job – the only question will be whether or not he attempts to juggle the role with completing the season as Spurs manager.



Sack Fabio Capello – and appoint English-born manager to ditch John Terry and re-call Paul Scholes: FA’s chance to unite nation

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The men in suits forever ridiculed by critics as the ‘jokers’ who run the game but ‘don’t know what they’re doing’ have a unique opportunity to make all the doubters eat their words.

There is a lot of absolute rubbish being written and said by so-called experts who have defended Fabio Capello’s ill-advised decision to take on the Football Association over their decision to strip John Terry of the captains armband.

The reality is the FA’s only mistake was not taking this action months ago when the crown prosecution charged Terry with racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Forget innocent until proven guilty. That is irrelevant. Terry will get the chance to clear his name in July. But it is inconceivable that England can go into a major tournament led by a skipper charged with being a racist.

Not only to protect England, but – whether he likes it or not -this is in the best interests of Terry. Can you imagine the controversy that would have engulfed England at Euro 2012 with Terry facing the world’s media and constantly being reminded about his racism charge.

The FA have been world leaders in their campaign to kick racism out of football. But the possibility that their skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending would have made England a laughing stock.

Fabio Capello told Italian TV: “I completely disagree with the FA about the John Terry decision. I have told that to the chairman.”

Fabio Capello told Italian TV: “I completely disagree with the FA about the John Terry decision. I have told that to the chairman.”

In any other walk of life anyone in Terry’s position would be suspended and removed from the firing line until after their court case.

For Capello to gamble his career by taking on his employers and so publicly supporting Terry is a shockingly poor decision for so many reasons. It is such a bad call one suspects the Italian secretly wants to be fired so he can walk away from an England job he has never mastered.

The reality is that Capello has made his position as manager untenable. Not just by challenging the FA’s authority but by inexcusably creating problems in the England dressing room

By making it public knowledge that his captain will no longer be his first choice undermines what already appears to be a fragile relationship with his players – who already know he is walking away when his contract expires in the summer.

By quickly ruling himself out of being re-instated as captain, Rio Ferdinand confirmed his lack of respect for Capello. And I am absolutely certain he is not the only one doubting the Italian’s ability to learn from his mistakes during and since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Imagine how the atmosphere would change if the FA have the balls to sack Capello and give the fans what they really want . . . an English-born manager.

Imagine if that man was Harry Redknapp after he successfully defends his Court case and kicks into touch those charges of alleged tax evasion.

And imagine if the new English manager leaves Terry out of his Euro 2012 squad altogether and successfully persuades this nation’s best midfielder Paul Scholes to make a sensational comeback.

There is no doubt in my mind Scholes will accept the challenge if he his given the respect he deserves and gets the call from a manager who wants his team to play a passing game.

The ginger haired genius has already publicly stated he wishes he had played at the last World Cup and Scholes is universally recognised as the best England player of his generation.

There is also no doubt that Redknapp will come to England’s rescue if he gets the call. But even if that is not possible there are several other Englishmen who could do better than Capello.

My message to FA chairman David Bernstein is simple. Step up and become the leader the English game needs by giving Capello the boot, ditch Terry altogether and appoint an English manager who will build his Euro 2012 team around Scholes.


Boring boring England are world champion underachievers

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Let’s be honest, whether we are talking association football or rugby football, England are not only boring to watch but pathetic underachievers.

Even when they win, as England’s rugby union stars did at Murrayfield this evening to give interim coach Stuart Lancaster a winning start against Scotland, it rarely gets the pulses racing. Not if we are talking about entertainment that is.

It was spot on when New Zealand’s former All Blacks’ coach Graham Henry described England as “the world champions of wasting talent” who play “a game based on fear” and failing to build on the success of winning the 2003 World Cup.

Rather than dwell on the irony of the Kiwis being the biggest underachievers in Rugby World Cup history – they even came close to blowing it on home soil when they narrowly pipped France to the Webb  Ellis Trophy a few months ago – the honest truth is that Henry is right.

Fear is the word that haunts England’s stars of both the beautiful game and the oval ball version. There was nothing to get excited about as a wasteful Scotland were beaten 6-13. It was the Scots who played the most entertaining rugby, their fightback undone when they were denied a try from Greg Laidlaw by the Television Match Official ruling the fly-half had failed to touch down.

Apart from Euro 96 when Terry Venables produced an entertaining England side that outclassed Holland’s total footballers and the one-off in 2001 when Sven Goran Eriksson oversaw an unbelievable 5-1 win in Germany, what have our international footballers done to be proud of since 1966?

It was shocking to see the way our overpaid, over-rated footballers failed to live up to all the hype and expectation at the last FIFA World Cup in South Africa. But will anyone be surprised if the same thing happens at Euro 2012 this summer?

At least the FA have had the wisdom to side-step the inevitable criticism that would have dragged England down if they had not stripped John Terry of the England captaincy. Guilty or not there is no way we could go into a major tournament with the possibility that our skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending.

Sadly, the opportunity to replace Fabio Capello with England’s finest manager Harry Redknapp was trashed by the Inland Revenue’s claim that the Spurs boss is a tax cheat. Even if Redknapp is cleared it is too late for  the FA to ditch underachiever Capello, and can anyone imagine England making us proud of the way we play the game with the Italian pulling the strings?

Fear of failure will almost certainly haunt our footballers at the Euro Finals in Poland and Ukraine.







Time for the much-maligned Frank Lampard to take a bow as England beat World Champions Spain

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Pride of England - Frank Lampard

Pride of England - Frank Lampard


When Frank Lampard crowned his 90th international appearance as skipper and celebrated with a matchwinner against world champions Spain it was a well-earned tribute to one of England’s most loyal servants.

Not always the most popular player to wear the three Lions, Lampard has come through some testing times with his country. But the way he has handled taking over the captain’s armband from controversial Chelsea team-mate John Terry, it is impossible to fault  Chelsea’s former West Ham United protege.

Back in 2008 Lampard was jeered – not for the first time –  when he came on as a second-half substitute during a comfortable 3-0 win over Estonia in a Euro Championship qualifier at Wembley. I remember Ashley Cole saying: “I can’t believe it. He is one of the best players I have played with. I can’t remember him having too many average games in an England shirt. But Frank is a strong character. If anyone is a strong enough character to deal with that, it is Frank.”

Hearing Lampard’s dignity in his pre-match comments, especially the way he talked about his pride in playing for England and wearing the poppy in remembrance of our fallen war heroes, it was impossible not to feel the utmost respect for the much-maligned star.

Frank Lampard has always been a quality player - ever since he came through the Academy at West Ham United

Frank Lampard has always been a quality player - ever since he came through the Academy at West Ham United

There have been times when Lampard’s arrogance and bad-tempered snarling wearing a Chelsea shirt has earned the venom of rival fans. But you can not fault his loyal service to his country. England are most  certainly not world beaters despite their  1-0 win over the No.1 team on the planet in a meaningless friendly. But credit where credit is due and it is time for Frank Lampard to take a bow.

Lampard – leading his country in the absence of rested Chelsea team-mate John Terry – headed in from close range in the 49th minute after Darren Bent had struck the woodwork.

I remember back in the 90s when Harry Redknapp promised disbelieving  West Ham United supporters at a fans’ forum during his days as Hammers boss that Lampard was destined to play many times for England. Redknapp was heckled for making that audacious prediction about a youngster who was just breaking into the team at Upton Park. But Harry – surely England’s next manager after Fabio Capello departs in the summer –  has always been an impeccable judge of football.

For anyone who wants to see why Redknapp was so convinced that Lampard was a star in the making check out one of the great football DVDs I have produced for West Ham United including Hammers Classics, Right Hammerings, and Hammers Greatest GoalsThe First 100 Years – The Official History.


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England avoid France in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification

England avoid France in World Cup draw


England often fare better in qualification than they do when they reach major tournaments, and whoever succeds Fabio Capello was given a golden ticket for Brazil with a lucky escape in the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Second last to be drawn out of the pot, England narrowly avoided the fate of being placed in a five-team group with France, a fate which instead fell to World Cup holders and current European champions Spain when their ball was last to be pulled out.

It meant England were paired with Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino, leaving Spain with the trickier task of negotiating a group comprising France, Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

Even so, nothing is ever straight-forward with England, who must complete the process of choosing their next manager before qualification begins.

As Fabio Capello – who steps down as England manager after Euro 2012 – warned, shortly after the draw was made in Rio de Janeiro : “It is not an easy draw. You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final – but that will be another manager’s job.”

100 Great Goals - Vol.1 CLICK TO BUY

100 Great Goals - CLICK TO BUY

The stand-out favourite to get the job with most bookmakers is Harry Redknapp, who is clearly the popular choice among fans – not least because he is English. Redknapp has fared magnificently since he took charge at Tottenham, who were the dazzling surprise package in last season’s Champions League. But you can never take anything for certain with the FA, who have a previous history of overlooking the best man for the England ever since they stubbornly refused to give the legendary Brian Clough the top job.

My bet is that the FA will keep their options open until the last minute and I would not be surprised if Jose Mourinho is high on their list. It is easy to make a strong case for the former Chelsea boss who has broadened his experience and reputation at Inter Milan and Real Madrid since leaving Stamford Bridge. But, in my book, the national manager must be English.

England’s claim to be a force in world football is nothing more than a fraudulent whim if we can’t find a manager to lead our country, and there is no shortage of candidates who could do the job just as well as Capello has done at the staggering cost of £6 million a year.  Roy Hodgson is another top boss who has the experience and the stature, despite his failure at Liverpool. But Redknapp is surely the outstanding English manager of the current generation.








Why Jose Mourinho will wait for Sir Alex Ferguson to retire before he returns to the Premier League

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Mourinho wants to be Manchester United boss

Mourinho wants to be Manchester United boss


Jose Mourinho’s declaration that he will return to manage in the Premier League one day guarantees the self-appointed “special one” will be linked with every top job until he is “back home”.

The big question is ‘Where will Mourinho end up?’ The truth is you can make a compelling case for the current Real Madrid boss to take the helm at any of the EPL’s Big Six.  But my belief is that the Portuguese maestro will wait for the top job, and the chance to succeed his good friend Sir Alex Ferguson – for the next couple of years at least.

There is no guarantee Mourinho will even get the job. There is a question mark over whether or not he can deliver the swashbuckling football United fans and their history demand. There is no sign of Sir Alex being ready to step aside as he closes in on the possibility of his greatest ever season in his 70th year.

Yet there is an aura and intoxicating self-belief about Mourinho that makes him absolutely perfect for United. And the very doubt about whether or not he could deliver at the world’s biggest and most famous club is precisely why the man at Madrid has his eyes on Old Trafford.

I’m not convinced Mourinho will get the chance to prove himself  any time soon. Fergie has the hunger and desire to go on indefinitely. And how can anyone follow the most successful football manager in the history of the game? But I can’t think of anyone better equipped to take on the hardest job in football.

When Roman Abramovich forced Mourinho out of Chelsea, he made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. And despite his affection for his time at Stamford Bridge, the devil in Mourinho would give him immense satisfaction to come back to the Premier League and rub the Russian’s nose in the billionaire’s miserable failure to understand that some things money just can’t buy.

With Carlo Ancelotti joining the long list of Chelsea managers failing to win the Champions League, the Italian is vulnerable despite winning the Double last year, because this season will end trophy-less.  As I predicted on transfer deadline day – if Chelsea fail to finish in the top four – Ancelotti will pay the price for the crazy 50 million pound signing of Fernando Torres. He may already be a dead man walking.

Either way do not expect Mourinho to rush back to Chelsea. He has already strongly rejected suggestions he will replace Roberto Mancini at Eastlands, whether or not Manchester City fail to end their 35 year wait for a trophy and miss out on a Champions League place.

Tottenham will undoubtedly make another move for Mourinho – who has previously turned them down on at least one occasion – when Harry Redknapp becomes the next England manager.

He will also be top of the list at Liverpooland Arsenal, should Kenny Dalglish step down or Arsene Wenger finally run out of time.  Arsenal’s last trophy was the 2005 FA Cup and Liverpool have never won the Premier League.

Unless Fergie delivers another Treble next month and decides to bow out in style – and even then I think he will want to carry on – I expect Mourinho to bide his time and remain in Madrid for another season at least.

In the meantime, what are the odds now on my prophecy coming true and Fergie having to conquer Mourinho’s Madrid at Wembley to win the Champions League?

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As Tottenham triumphantly march into the last eight of the Champions League, it is time to salute the brilliance of their English boss Harry Redknapp.

When Redknapp replaced Spanish disaster Juande Ramos in October 2008, Spurs were four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League. Now they look comfortable at the top table of European football and it is easy to imagine the best is still to come.

England's top boss - miracle worker Harry Redknapp

England's top boss - miracle worker Harry Redknapp

Resisting the best efforts of AC Milan to hold on to an aggregate 1-0 win, courtesy of a famous first leg win in the San Siro, the White Hart Lane fans who have waited a generation for a return to the glory days must be pinching themselves in disbelief.

It has been a meteoric rise from the ashes led by the outstanding boss, who guided unfashionable Portsmouth to silverware with an historic FA Cup Final win over Cardiff just five months before accepting Tottenham’s invitation “to manage a big club before I retire.”

Redknapp has been a success in management ever since his first job in 1982/83 when he saved Bournemouth from relegation to the bottom rung of the Football League and knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup in his first season.

He was a big success at West Ham United – the club he graced as a player in the 60s and early 70s – until he was sacked out of the blue for apparently upsetting chairman Terry Brown in 2001. Since then Redknapp has had the strength of character to manage both South coast rivals Portsmouth and Southampton.

But the return to North London, where he grew up in the Tottenham youth ranks before he was signed by West Ham as a 15 year-old, has been the move that has confirmed Redknapp’s emergence as the outstanding English manager of his generation.

And that in a nutshell is the bad news for Spurs fans.

There can be little doubt that Redknapp is destined to take over as England manager when Fabio Capello moves on after Euro 2012. As he has already stated: “As an Englishman it would be hard to turn down. It’s the pinnacle of your career.”

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