O'Neill for England, hopes FA man
CHRIS LAKEY Norfolk's man at the top in the FA believes a former Norwich City manager could take over the reins when Sven-Goran Eriksson's controversial tenure as England manager comes to an end after this summer's World Cup.
Norfolk's man at the top in the FA believes a former Norwich City manager could take over the reins when Sven-Goran Eriksson's controversial tenure as England manager comes to an end after this summer's World Cup.
Ray Kiddell, one of two vice-chairmen of English football's governing body, was involved in Monday's lengthy negotiations which led to Eriksson announcing that he would leave his job at the end of the summer.
And he believes it's now time for the FA to look to home shores for a replacement - with Martin O'Neill top of his personal wish-list.
The ex-Canary player and manager hasn't been involved in football since quitting as Celtic manager last June to care for his sick wife, Geraldine, but Kiddell believes he is a standout candidate.
“Of course, an Englishman in the job would be ideal,” said Kiddell. “My second choice would then be to get someone from the home countries and of course there is only one person you can think of and that's Martin O'Neill. Whether he would be available or not I don't know, but he'd be ideal.”
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Another ex-Norwich player, Steve Bruce, is among those in the running, according to the bookies, but the likes of Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley and even Stuart Pearce are among the front-runners.
And while Kiddell would clearly prefer an English manager, he admits that the lack of quality may be a major stumbling block.
“All managers have their ups and downs don't they?” he said. “Just look at a few years ago when Joe Royle and Peter Reid were being tipped as future managers. Things change and fortunes change.
“It's difficult to tell: Birmingham aren't exactly setting the league alight, but if Steve Bruce had the same money as Jose Mourinho perhaps they would be doing better.
“Stuart Pearce talked a lot of sense when he asked why people were putting him up for the job - because he's only been in charge of his own team for a few months.”
The possibility of England hiring another foreign boss is a very real one, with Guus Hiddink already forcing his way through to the front of that particular queue, and Kiddell is keeping an open mind on which way the FA hierarchy will go.
“I would vastly prefer an Englishman to be manager, but at the end of the day, the greatest thing would be for this country to win the World Cup,” he said. “Imagine, after winning the World Cup at rugby and winning the Ashes for cricket, how this country would react if that happened.”
Kiddell was in telephone contact with the FA during the negotiations with Eriksson at the FA's Soho Square HQ on Monday and, after having a number of questions answered to his satisfaction, endorsed the minutae of the final decision.
“I can't reveal the financial details of the final agreement but I do think it's better than people might imagine,” he said.
Kiddell was also one of the 13 FA men who sat in judgment on the Swede in August last year when he was accused of lying over his affair with his personal assistant, Faria Alam.
Eriksson kept his job, but Kiddell admits he believes the Swede did himself no favours with his latest indiscretion, when he revealed footballing state secrets to an undercover Sunday newspaper reporter.
“As far as I am concerned, Sven was rather indiscreet,” he said. “I think David Dein (the other FA vice-chairman) got it right when he said he should have known better than to say what he did.”