Capello Out – Big Game Managers?

8 Feb

Fabio waves goodbye to the FA

After hearing the surprising news of Fabio Capello’s decision to resign from England, the common theme is that the next manager should be English first and foremost. Harry Redknapp is rightly considered the bookies favourite for his good work with Spurs. England games and especially in a major tournament are all big games. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at the English managers in the Premier League and their record in the big games.

It shouldn’t take long, I was incredibly surprised to see that there were only three English Managers in the Premier League – down from five after Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock were sacked.

I will break from the norm, and look at the records versus the current Top teams, rather than at the time of playing. I’ve included the Top 7 teams, partly because Spurs and Newcastle are in the Top 6, and partly because there’s so little difference between 4th ad 7th:

Harry’s record could have looked quite different but for a couple of crazy minutes in the recent 3-2 defeat to Man City. If Defoe had gambled at the far post instead of drifting into the centre, Harry’s record against the Top teams would be 3/3/2 and 12 points from 24. It’s also worth noting that Spurs defeats to Manchesters United and City at the start of the season were without Parker, Adebayor, and a focused Modric. Take those games out, and the goals against column drops to 6 in 6 games. Of the wins, they beat Liverpool 4-0 and Arsenal 2-1.

At the start of the season, if someone were to suggest Alan Pardew would be a credible option for the England Manager’s job in February, then they would have been mocked. However, they’ve had a great season and Pardew appears to be delivering on the potential he showed at Reading and West Ham. His record against the Top teams this season however hasn’t been great. The one win was a great 3-0 victory over Champions Man Utd. He’s been sometimes described as a cheerleading figure, and in tournament football for your country, that’s perhaps what England have been missing in recent years. Credible draws against Spurs (2-2), Man Utd (1-1) and Arsenal (0-0) suggests his teams can perform in the big games, although conceding 3 goals in each of the defeats against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool, also point to weaknesses.

Roy Hodgson is at a bit of disadvantage in the sense that his West Brom team was built on a much tighter budget. Their sole win against the big boys was a 3-2 away win at Pardew’s Newcastle, whilst they also managed to keep Man City to a goal less draw. Back to back 2-1 defeats to Man Utd and Chelsea at the start of the season were widely regarded as unlucky.

Notable Big Games:

Harry Redknapp:

FA Cup Final 2008 – winning as favourites with Portsmouth against Cardiff, whilst beating Man Utd along the way.

League Cup Final 2009 – Losing on penalties with Spurs against Man Utd.

Champions League 2009-10 – Wins against both Milan Clubs

Alan Pardew:

Play Off Finals 2004 and 2005 – Often described as the biggest game in football, Pardew Managed West Ham in back to back finals, losing to Palace 1-0 in 2004, before redemption the following year after beating Preston North End by the same score.

FA Cup Final 2006 – Pardew’s 3rd successive trip to Cardiff was a bitter sweet affair. As underdogs West Ham were seconds away after leading 2-0 and then 3-2, before Steven Gerrard broke the Hammers Hearts. Defeat on penalties followed.

Roy Hodgson:

UEFA Cup Final 1997 – Hodgson took Inter to the two legged final against Schalke which finished 1-1 on aggregate. Penalties went the Germans way. Unsurprisingly.

Europa League Final 2010 – If getting to the final with Inter was expected, getting there with Fulham was not. Memorable wins over Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg on the way to the final raised hope, but a Diego Forlan inspired Atletico Madrid were just a step too far.

All three have the main characteristic of being England Manager – they’ve all lost penalty shoot outs in big games.

Working with English Players:

Harry Redknapp:

Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Glen Johnson, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole (who is enjoying a good season with Lille) were all given starts in football under Harry at West Ham. Fast forward to the current Spurs team, and players that could play in Euro 2012 include Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone and Defoe. At Portsmouth, Peter Crouch was joined by Harry favourites Glen Johnson and Defoe.

Alan Pardew:

Pardew’s West Ham was largely built around an English core – although most of those players eligible for Euro 2012 are mainly retired or on their way down, England Internationals Sherringham, Konchesky, and sadly Dean Ashton. Still playing and with an outside chance are Rob Green, Bobby Zamora, Carlton Cole, Anton Ferdinand, and Matthew Etherington. At Newcastle, he doesn’t have many real contenders for this summer’s showpiece.

Roy Hodgson:

At Liverpool, he worked with Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly. At Fulham he worked with Zamora and got his best form out of him. And at West Brom, goalkeeper Ben Foster has a chance of getting into the squad (since Capello has left). Danny Murphy anyone? Probably too old now.

Just don’t call him a wheeler dealer

Harry is the odds on favourite for a reason. He’s currently managing a top 3 team with an English core and playing attacking attractive football. He’s known as a great man manager, and it would be interesting to see how he’d perform in the fish bowl environment of an Internation tournament. He knows most of the players, can handle the media, and most importantly, he’s not going to be in prison – something that could have somewhat scuppered his Management.

If Pardew carries on as he is, his name will continue to be mentioned with the England job in years to come, but still has some way to go to match Redknapp. His style of counter attacking high energy football may well be well suited to the International arena, but it’s unlikely to be this summer. Roy Hodgson has the international experience with Switzerland, Finland and UAE. However, his relative failure at Liverpool paired with West Brom’s struggles this season would perhaps take him out of the running.

For the record, and based on the normal Average Opposition stats with positions at the time of playing, here’s how the teams all shape up:

Shame Mancini isn’t English. Along with David Silva, Aguero, Ya Ya Toure and Vincent Kompany.

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4 Responses to “Capello Out – Big Game Managers?”

  1. Marcos March 2, 2012 at 11:24 #

    I have alwyas had two views on Harry he is fantastic with the players he loves and when he focuses on the team we get great results .the bad side is when he opens his mouth in the media and talks about Warnock for England, claims poor games were excellent, that we should sign Owen, that Crouch was amazing .he has an incredible squad that plays extremely entertaining football now lets hope that is where the focus continues and we do not get anymore players demotivated and wanting out .COYS! P.S It was Tottenham at the Lane yesterday and not Brazil

  2. lpcorbett March 5, 2012 at 23:17 #

    Yeah, I think most people would agree that Harry maybe has a few too many friends in the media, and in return for favourable reports, he gives them soundbites and information. On the other side, he’s a great man manager – and who knows, it might be just want the England team need in a tournament environment.

  3. Sam Thompson March 9, 2012 at 18:31 #

    Hi,
    I often check out your site as i find your pieces inceredibly interesting and thought provoking. I love the detail witn which you look at Lampard v Gerrard and other great battles over the years. Its refreshing to see someone looking at facts to come to a conclusion rather than simply relying on opinions.

    Keep up the good work!

    • lpcorbett March 11, 2012 at 19:18 #

      Cheers Sam, appreciate it. Just had a quick look at your site – it certainly offers a decent insight into the tactical side of the game, i’ll be following more closely going forward!

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