Monday, December 10, 2007

A sad day for England

According to a Reuters story today, Jose Mourinho has ruled himself out of contention for the England national soccer team manager's job. As I laid out in an earlier post on my Journal blog, Mourinho was far and away the best candidate for the job: he had enjoyed fantastic success with both minnows (FC Porto) and giants (Chelsea), and had also proven himself capable of both managing superstar egos and getting the most out of limited talent. He is also perhaps the only person adequately prepared to survive the storm of scrutiny that goes with the England job, which is unparalled in professional sports. In fact, Richard Starnes muses that it may have been the prospect of this scrutiny itself that led Mourinho to decline. If the self-anointed "Special One" who played the media like a fiddle during his time at Chelsea can't handle the prospect of even more invasive media coverage, who possibly can?
Of the remaining candidates, Martin O'Neill and Jurgen Klinsmann stand out as good choices: neither is too likely to get the job, though, as O'Neill has already said he doesn't want it and Klinsmann would probably want to stay in California, which would not sit well with the English FA. Fabio Capello has said he's interested, but I'm not sure that he'd be the best fit: he speaks little English, seems uncomfortable with the media, and had difficulty managing egos during his time at Real Madrid. He's had considerable club success, but I don't know if he has the personality required to translate that into national success. Marcello Lippi's proven that he can succeed on the national stage, but again, language and personality are issues. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops: will O'Neill change his mind, will the FA be willing to bend and accomodate Klinsmann, will they take a chance on Capello or Lippi, or will they go with some dredged-up Englishman like Sam Allardyce, Steve Coppell, or Harry Redknapp? My hope is for one of the former possibilities, but the latter has a strong chance of happening due to the "We need an Englishman" sentiment. As Ben Knight remarked a while ago, England needs to accept that the best managers are no longer homegrown.

Links of the Day:

- A great interview with Sir Alex Ferguson by the Telegraph's Tim Rich
- The Guardian's sport blog list of the top six soccer books of all time
(thanks to Bobby for the links)
- Jozy Altidore on the NY Times Soccer Blog about his training with the U.S. Olympic team
- James Mirtle's list of the NHL's best penalty killers: some interesting names, including ex-Canucks defenceman Brent Sopel
- James Duthie on oversized goalie equipment (and Marty Turco's suprising thoughts on it)
- Alanah's top ten reasons why hockey's better than other sports
- The Province's Gord McIntyre previews tonight's Canucks-Kings clash
- Neate Sager on the state of the Kingston Frontenacs.

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