It was an unsavoury end to the shortest reign of any England boss. Sam Allardyce, 67 days in, undone by bravado and greed. Big Sam’s big mouth cost him the job he always coveted. A second England manager in twenty years removed for inappropriate comments.
The Telegraph’s sting lifted the lid on what many already knew. The dirty underbelly of agents, hangers-on, and culture of greed that permeates the top level of the game around the world. The FA were left with no choice but to give Sam his marching orders. Their plans for the next four years in tatters. Allardyce wasn’t everyone’s choice, but of the field at the time, he was possible the best suited.
So what now? Gareth Southgate will be handed the reigns for the next set of qualifiers, and should see England safely into 2017. After that it’s murky.
The clamour will inevitably be for another English coach, with Steve Bruce named as a contender once again, but frankly he fails to inspire. Southgate ruled himself out last time around, and ironically, Glenn Hoddle is being pushed in some quarters, the previous boss whose loose lips cost him the top job.
The time frame however gives the FA a chance. A chance to be bold, and make a defining statement. Courting Wenger to take over in 2017 is a must. Wenger is committed to Arsenal until the end of the current season, but if England want to bring about a real cultural change within the national set up, they must do everything they can to get the Frenchman.
Wenger’s credentials need no introduction. It shows his quality that despite fifteen years of top four finishes and Champions League football, second place last year was considered failure. He has set the bar at the Emirates high, much higher than the bar is often set for the national team, and he never ends up too far away.
The grumblings of discontent at Arsenal last year suggest that change could do both parties some good. Wenger has never coached at international level, and at 66 years old, is not a coach for generations to come. However, his methodology and beliefs can change the identity of a team weighed down by expectation and paralysed by pressure. He can set down a pattern of play and an identity to be implemented for years to come.
The time has come for some vision from the Wembley. Wenger changed the way English club football was played twenty years ago. Now give him the chance to change the way England play.