Ello. I hope you’re ready to test out some more prime candidates for the England job. Let’s get down to business.
I’ve always felt like Steve Bruce would be a safe pair of hands for the national job. He probably wouldn’t bring a massive amount of excitement or success to the table but he’d be fine. He’s experienced as hell in the English footballing pyramid and is highly respected.
Looking at how he did in this simulation actually does my head in a little bit. He absolutely stormed a potentially tough group D containing 2 home nations, scoring 9 goals and conceding just twice. Then he took out Ukraine in extra time. All this while playing an intriguing 3-4-3 system reminiscent of how Southgate’s got the national side playing at the minute. When the quarters rolled around though, England drew Spain and Bruce abandoned his attacking, free flowing 3-4-3 for a flat 5-4-1, setting up to frustrate the Spanish. It’s actually a fair plan and shows some pragmatism by the boss, but it didn’t work. Spain dominated and scored the only goal, sending the lions home with a whimper. I will give him a couple of bonus points for the big rival win and for 4 games of great football, but I’m subtracting a bonus point because of how he bottled the Spain game.
Sam Allardyce is a really weird mesh of opinions, isn’t he. He was really respected for his progressive ideas at Bolton with regards to nutrition and sports science and everything, then he became the poster boy for route one football, then the man you turn to to save you from relegation, but through it all he’s always just been seen as a bit of a wanker. Since he was originally removed from the England role for admitting to some nefarious practices, he’s become a cheat too.
But how does he do if he makes a spectacular return to the biggest job in English football? Actually really well! He grinds out results really efficiently, only winning by more than 1 goal once in the semi final, but on the road to the final England defeat some really huge teams using a 4-2-3-1 with deep midfielders – Belgium and Germany are big scalps, while he also switched to a flat 5-4-1 to beat Spain and it actually paid off, unlike when Bruce tried it. Losing 5-1 to France in the final was pretty embarrassing, but overall you have to say that’s a really solid if unspectacular tournament, even if it does leave a ridiculously sour taste.
Pep Guardiola’s stock is dropping a little bit lately, but I can’t see him leaving City until either they win the Champions League or he obscenely underachieves and forces the board’s hands. Still, it’d be interesting to see what he’d do with our boys.
The results are not good. Somehow Pep’s England side levelled Jamie Carragher’s record of getting eliminated as early as possible, losing their first 2 games against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iceland, before handily beating France. I was intrigued by his decision to buck the trend and start Nick Pope ahead of Jordan Pickford, but then I realised the Everton keeper was injured and missed the tournament, so there were no left-field player picks and no left-field tactics. It was a standard, fairly dominant 4-3-3 all the way through. Not a good performance from Pep.
Is it just my imagination or is David Moyes having a little renaissance at the moment? He went right off the rails after the Manchester United disaster, Sociedad wasn’t much better and Sunderland was probably the low point… But since he returned to West Ham he seems to be back in his element – Direct football, hard graft, grinding out results… Can he transfer those skills to the England job?
I’m going to immediately jump to Moyes’ defence, as on the face of it, his 2 draws, win and a penalty loss look like a pretty awful campaign, but to his credit, his England team played a free flowing attacking brand of football in a 3-4-3 and made 18 clear cut chances over those 4 games. How they only scored 6 goals is beyond me – The Scotland and Northern Ireland games in particular should’ve been cricket scores. I’ll chuck him a bonus point for playing nice football, but he’s going to be near the bottom of the league.
Find me somebody who doesn’t love Chris Hughton, I dare you. He’s just a friendly, hard working, normal bloke isn’t he. Not only that, but he’s got a lot of experience under his belt nowadays. In a situation where Southgate wasn’t going to take control of Euro 2020 in real life, I’d hope to see Chris in the running. But will his methods translate to international football?
People, we need to start getting past the 2nd round. To be fair, like a lot of managers we’ve covered so far, Chris was unlucky to get booted out by Poland after 4 games that England absolutely dominated. It should’ve been a 4th win, but sometimes international football just shits on you. Nothing unorthodox by Hughton either, just used a solid 4-4-1-1 all the way through to his exit, but I will give him a bonus point for his superb group stage.
Did you miss him?!?!
Roy seems like a lovely bloke and is obviously a hugely experienced and knowledgeable manager, but that Iceland match is going to haunt him forever, isn’t it. To be fair, it wasn’t just the Iceland match. We never convinced during his first stint in charge of England. A group stage exit in World Cup 14, then a 2nd round exit in Euro 16 doesn’t inspire confidence. 2nd time lucky?
A couple of old scores got settled here, didn’t they? Wales got their revenge for the Euro 16 group stage by taking all 3 points from their neighbours, before Roy’s footballing powerhouse rejoiced in obliterating a tiny Scandinavian nation. Honestly though, the group stage wasn’t all that impressive. 4 points isn’t a great tally at all. The 2nd round was much better, seeing off the Netherlands, who are always a threat, but then Italy in the Quarter Finals proved too much.
To be fair, it’s an improvement.
And to finish off our 2nd episode, the reigning Premier League champion, Jurgen Klopp. The prospect of having his high pressing, high tempo tactics on the pitch, his charisma in the dressing room and his charm in front of the press is a tantalising prospect for those of us who’ve grown up with the likes of Fabio Capello and Steve McClaren.
Oh come on. Klopp can’t get past the 2nd round?? Why’s this the hurdle that’s tripping up even the best coaches in the world? The German’s Englishmen got progressively worse as the tournament went on – After opening on a 3-0 hammering of Bosnia & Herzegovina, they scraped past Sweden, failed to scrape past Poland and then got scraped past by Belgium. Klopp’s 4-3-3 did manage to give England the better of most of their matches, but they didn’t pull up any trees. Disappointing again from a very capable boss.
We’ve got 3 clear choices at the top so far and somehow from this distinguished list, it’s Alan Shearer at the top, followed by Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce. I’m going to need somebody credible to step up and end this madness next time. Also it’s worth mentioning, I’ve added an extra rule to distinguish Roy Hodgson and Rio Ferdinand, who were in joint 8th – After points, goal difference and goals scored, matches played is the decider. As Roy got further into the tournament, he ranks better.
14 down, another 20 to go. See you next time.