Well we got it half right (no ironic cheers at the back, please); the English Football Association has decided not to offer the job as England manager to ‘nailed on’ (as they say in the game) favourite Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp (as we said) but to West Bromwich Albion’s Roy Hodgson (as we didn’t).
Our tip was Martin O’Neill but the highly-regarded Ulsterman seems to be happily ensconced as manager of Sunderland, his boyhood favourites.
In truth Redknapp was never going to get the job once he was summoned to Southwark Crown Court in London to defend charges of tax evasion. The fact that he got off is neither here nor there, the last thing the FA (reeling from a series of disastrous managerial appointments) can afford is even the remote possibility of a scandal.
And Hodgson (pictured), 65 in August and thus the same age as Redknapp, actually has a better record than ‘Arry. He has won club honours in Denmark and Sweden, twice reached the final of the UEFA Cup (Europa League as it is now), managed Switzerland to the finals of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 and performed more than respectably at Blackburn, Fulham and West Brom in England. The one blot on his copybook was a disastrous half-year as manager of Liverpool but, in truth, the job was nigh impossible with the club’s then US owners feuding and running out of money and current manager Kenny Dalglish waiting in the wings.
Redknapp also has a good club record (he won the FA Cup with Portsmouth although the club went bust shortly after) and has turned around perennial under-performers Spurs. But the FA wants a more collegiate type than Redknapp anyway, someone who’ll get involved in its multi-million pound new training centre in Staffordshire as well as the England team.
Hodgson’s biggest problem (should he accept this poisoned chalice of course) will be the ire of the football commentariat who, to a man, said it was a shoe-in for Redknapp. If Hogson fails to propel England to at least the knockout stages of Euro 2012 this summer then they’ll be on his tail, exacting vengeance for being made to look foolish.
As for the FA and its long-suffering big commercial sponsors, they’ll be praying that ‘safe pair of hands’ Hodgson can achieve some stablility (and a few results of course) in what, surely, will be his last big football job.
And Spurs? Billionaire owner Joe Lewis and chairman Daniel Levy will be cursing former manager Fabio Capello and the FA for triggering a process that has blighted the end of Spurs’ season, casting a big doubt over the club’s chances of qualifying for the Champion’s League, something which looked, er, nailed on before Capello’s sudden decision to quit the England job.