Chris Lakey: It’s the usual suspects for the Premier League safety brigade
- Credit: PA
Ray Wilkins may have to adopt some new tactics in his battle to get his old pals into top jobs in English football.
The one-time footballer, turned TV pundit, was not best pleased when Norwich hired Daniel Farke as head coach, believing there were plenty of English candidates capable of filling the role.
And he was right: there were plenty of candidates from these shores. But they don't want to fill jobs at Norwich City in the Championship – not when there are Premier League clubs willing to keep the old boys network going by hiring them.
Why on earth would any of the available managers quoted at the time by Wilkins – 'When you think of Ryan Giggs sitting out there, Tim Sherwood. Garry Monk, now without a job. We were talking to Alex McLeish on this show last week. All sitting out there, waiting for jobs.'
What he couldn't add were the names of Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew and David Moyes. But he would have done if they'd come to mind... and been available.
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There is a cloche of managers – commonly known as the usual suspects – that people like Wilkins will never look beyond. They don't understand and they don't do their homework, not in the same way a club does.
I wonder if Wilkins feels the same this week about Messrs Giggs, Sherwood and McLeish (Monk, of course, is employed at Middlesbrough)? While those fine upstanding gentlemen are still on the guns for hire list, they have seen Premier League jobs come and go, given to the aforementioned Allardyce, Pardew and Moyes.
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Is Giggs a better option than Moyes or Pardew or just a trainee member of the usual suspects. Or are clubs just too scared or too incompetent to take a chance on anyone? Are they just happy to hire someone they believe can keep them in the top flight, rather than do anything much while they are in there? They'll be middle of the table at best - little ambition to do anything but survive, maybe a cup run thrown in, but generally, the intention is to pick up the TV cheque every year.
Managers like Allardyce are made for the job... which is why some of the others will be resigned to starting a little lower down the footballing ladder. Maybe they do need to do their apprenticeship, but what is the future when managerial senior citizens are the first port of call for club owners?
Tony Pulis exited West Brom, but his credentials for guaranteeing Premier League safety at the expense of decent ambitious football will ensure someone takes a punt on him, should he be willing.
Meanwhile, Giggs and others of a similar age and with a similar ambition of managing are forgotten. I'm not suggesting Giggs would do a good job, but look down the divisions and you will see a lot of men of a similar ilk who would jump at the chance of managing higher up the ladder. But their chances are slim because clubs go for the same old boring names – and judging by the reaction of fans, they don't feel entirely comfortable with the safety first attitude either.
It makes you wonder whether Steve Coppell, Graeme Souness or David O'Leary will return any time soon.
Still on the subject of managers – but one who is most definitely ambitious ... Pep Guardiola's 'chat' with Nathan Redmond after his Manchester City side sneaked a late win against Southampton was something to behold. On the pitch, in front of a big crowd and a big TV audience, the City boss looked like he was ranting and raving at the former Canary. How Redmond didn't tell him to go forth I don't know. One redtop newspaper appears to have got their lip-reading interpretation wrong, according to Redmond, while Guardiola said he was simply complimenting Redmond before launching into a rant about Southampton's negative tactics.
'Yes he was very passionate, intense and aggressive but he was only very complimentary and positive to me,' Redmond said on social media. 'He commented on my qualities as a young English player and how he wanted me to attack his team more during the game in a similar way to last season. I told him I was doing what my manager had asked me to do in the game. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing negative or offensive was said towards me from Pep and that's what makes him one of the best manager's in world football
Had I been Redmond I'd have told Guardiola – best manager in the world or not – to sod off. And had I been Redmond's manager, good friend of the best manager in the world or not, I'd have said the same.
At least it wasn't Big Sam...
Here we go again...
As I awoke bleary-eyed in the dark of yesterday morning, I was greeted by the sight, on BBC News, of the World Cup draw.
There was a moment of blind panic as I wondered why I was standing there looking for the cats, rather than sitting behind a desk at work, until I realised it was just the usual rehearsal malarkey.
Once my sensory spirit level had comes to a rest and all was good, I then saw the sports chap was describing England's worst-case scenario group, and its best-case scenario group.
Curious this, for a country which hasn't won a knockout game at a major competition for 10 years – Ecuador, 2006 (seems hard to believe that at Euro 2016 England went into the last-16 clash with Iceland looking for only their seventh knockout win at major tournaments since 1966).
Is there such a thing as a good or bad group for England? Surely they are all disasters waiting to happen?
I fear there isn't... whether England get Germany or hosts Russia (supposedly the worst team in the whole shebang) it matters little. We are a country that is adept as snatching defeat from the jaws of apathetic stalemate.
Will this World Cup be any different? Well there's no Holland or Italy. That's good, yes? Not really – they're not very good. But Iran and Panama? Remember Iceland?
Already the Beeb have been saying the long-hauls between base and venues will have an effect (like no other teams are going to have to travel long distances within the biggest country on earth. We're getting the excuses in early.
By the time the tournament comes around next summer, we will all be brainwashed into thinking it's a cakewalk and then, after the first game is negotiated with the usual degree of difficulty, we have only days to accept the reality of it all: that England aren't good enough. Again. That's the usual scenario. Why should this be any different?
I have endured this since, perhaps, Mexico 1970, when I was old enough to understand what the palaver was about, so if you think I am being over-cynical, then by all means, try and convince me otherwise; I'm happy to be proved wrong, but the odds aren't good. Even against Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.