30 April, 2006

Give that man a donut

It's probably too easy nominating Luiz Felipe Scolari.

"Big Phil" had the gumption late last week to turn a 100% pay rise to come coach England's national football team in succession to Sven Goran Eriksson.

"I don't want anything more to do with England because in the space of two days my life has been invaded and my privacy has been disrupted. As I speak, there are still 20 reporters outside my home. If that's part of another culture, it's not a culture I'm used to."

Ouch! Well, Phil's got a point. Taking the England job is the equivalent of becoming the tabloid press's punching bag. Win, lose or draw - you will be vilified.

How Eriksson has resisted punching out the lights of journalists is beyond Donutball. He's had his private life scrutinsied beyond belief. Donutball believes he perhaps should have resisted the temptation of an affair with a secretary at the Football Association headquarters. But, then again, that's his personal matter. If he can guide an over-paid, inflated England side anywhere near the semi-finals of this year's World Cup, he deserves an honorary knighthood.

Not only has the handling of Sven's replacement been a shambles, Donutball thinks this is all a bit premature. What's the haste? Why not wait until the World Cup is over in July. There'll be plenty of coaches chasing jobs after the tournament. Scolari, of course, is under contract as coach of Portugal. England may well rue their ineptitude, especially as the World Cup quarter-finals could throw up an England-Portugal match-up.

As for Phil, he would not be our choice. And, it's nothing to do with being a Johnny Foreigner. Yes, he's won a World Cup with Brazil and not many coaches can claim that. We feel he's probably not suited to dealing with players of limited talent - we're looking at you Gary Neville - that litter the English scene. That said, his unusual approach is refreshing. It remains to be seen if he could mould a competitive English side.

None of the current English candidates inspire confidence.

Steve McLaren, the new favourite (again): won a League Cup with Middlesbrough. Excellent No.2 at Man United and England. But, probably an excellent No.2. Also, recently had an affair so his personal life will be tabloid fodder.

Sam Allardyce: ugly manager of Bolton, who play ugly football. Never had to handle prima donna England internationals, just El Hadji "Spit the Dog" Diouf. Won nothing - particularly not beauty contests.

Alan Curbishley: won nothing with Charlton. Another small overachieving club candidate.

Martin O'Neill: an Ulsterman (that's not English), but at least he's experienced driving up and down the M1. Too excitable for our liking and as Celtic manager only had to beat Rangers a couple of times a season. Otherwise, UEFA Cup runner-up was the only highlight of his tenure in Scotland.

We're struggling for other candidates. For the time, we'd suggest eating crow and offering Sven another 2 years.

DonutBut, we also suspect that Big Phil might be stringing the English FA along. Once the World Cup is out of way, he might come knocking on their door.

In the meantime, Big Phil. Here's your donut.


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