February 14, 2012
by Emelie Okeke
24th March, 2012
Reuters — The potential appointment of Harry Redknapp as Fabio Capello’s successor was thrown into fresh doubt today, in the wake of Spurs’ 2-0 Premier League defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Redknapp, who turned 65 earlier this month, was already under intense pressure going into the highly charged London derby, as a result of the events surrounding his side’s unceremonious exit from the FA Cup last weekend at Milwall. The on-field action was overshadowed by an angry confrontation between Redknapp and a Lions supporter in the stands, after the fan had thrown a pair of handcuffs at Redknapp. The FA, recently thought by many to have the West Londoner at the top of their wish list for England Manager, issued a strongly worded warning to the Spurs boss to “mind his future conduct”.
The shenanigans at The New Den, however, were a tempest in a teacup compared to today’s fraught encounter in West London. The main flash point involved Chelsea’s embattled captain and scorer of the home side’s second goal, John Terry, celebrating his trademark bullet header by sprinting to the touchline and pointedly grabbing his armband in front of Redknapp in ebullient fashion. This vehement gesture was widely seen as a response to an article by Redknapp, published in The Sun earlier this month. In that interview, the West Londoner was quoted to the effect that if he were to become the next England boss, Terry would definitely not be his captain, regardless of the outcome of the defender’s court case in July for alleged racial abuse of QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.
As the game wore on, Redknapp seemed affected by Terry’s act of defiance . With fellow England team-mates Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Daniel Sturridge, and even Redknapp’s nephew Frank Lampard, exuberantly celebrating Terry’s fronting-up winner alongside their leader, it seems that Redknapp may have accomplished the undesired feat of having split the Three Lions’ dressing room before assuming command.
Wembley Conferencing Suite 202 — May 20th, 2012
“Exhaustive? Are you sure?!”
“As exhaustive as can be, Sir. We’ve gone through the shortlist, the long list, the medium list, more lists than Harlesden Sainsbury’s on a Saturday afternoon–”
“That’s quite alright, Adrian. It’s been a long day for us all. Now, let’s go through the names one more time. Redknapp?”
“A no, Sir. Classic case of the public turning on their idol at the first sign of trouble.”
“Didn’t give a definitive no, but I’m guessing from all that cackling on the phone and the Russian voice in the background telling him to jump on the yacht that he’s leaving for somewhere more… blue.”
“Hmm, indeed. Pardew?”
“Eight out of ten football fans said ‘no’.”
“Erm, Bryan, Sir?”
“No, Adrian, Bobby.”
“… Oh, yes, sorry…”
“And you’re adamant that we’re not going for Pearce?”
“Oh definitely not, Adrian. Not after that Holland business. Dear me…”
29th February, 2012
UP — Stuart Pearce effectively wrote himself out of the running to be England’s manager after a disastrous 5-1 defeat to the Dutch at a Wembley in front of a sparse crowd tonight.
Pearce had, in the build-up to the much-publicised friendly, promised to field a “fresh, dynamic” line-up with a view to several young players vying for squad places in this summer’s finals. That bold outlook was contradicted from as early as the following training session. The withdrawal of Ashley Cole from the squad due to a wallet injury, Leighton Baines’ sudden onset of homesickness, acquired from being outside the North-West for more than three days, and Kieran Gibbs finally completing his transfer from reality to mythology, resulted in Pearce naming himself on the bench for the ill-fated showdown with l’Oranje.
Despite missing deposed captain John Terry, predecessor Rio Ferdinand, and England’s latest Great White Hope, Jack Wilshere, all through injury, and Wayne Rooney omitted with a view to this summer’s matches against France and Sweden, the Three Lions made a bright start. They were rewarded with the opener five minutes in, after captain Joe Hart’s long punt up field was headed on by Sturridge for Danny Welbeck to run through and register his first international goal.
But problems arose for England at the twenty-minute mark. Micah Richards, standing in at left-back, was stretchered off the field after being decapitated in a fifty-fifty with Manchester City colleague Nigel de Jong. Pearce immediately stripped off — which, in his case, only required the removal of his bib — and despite protestations from the home fans, his bench, and Arjen Robben, the caretaker manager replaced Richards.
Despite some meaty early challenges, Pearce’s age, lack of pace and match fitness. not to mention an ill-advised rashness one would normally acquaint with a teenager taking his senior squad bow, soon caught up with him. Robben and fellow wing whippet Eljero Elia took turns roasting Psycho down Holland’s right flank. The visitors were 3-1 up by half-time, with Assistant Manager Steve Wigley looking as helpless, in the coach’s box, as he had done during his entire tenure in charge of Southampton.
Robin van Persie increased Holland’s lead in the 55th minute with an exquisite free-kick, but the punishment was far from over, as the technically inferior hosts were dispossessed cheaply time and again by their more illustrious opponents. A back four of Pearce, Cahill, Phil Jones and Kyle Walker lacked experience as a unit, and Holland continued to pick off the sorry home side with consummate ease.
The Dutch were rewarded with a fifth late on as another scintillating counter-attack was rounded off with a sumptuous Van Persie finish. Pearce capped a miserable personal night by earning a red card for an ill-timed challenge on Elia. The tackle had been unmistakably late, arriving twenty seconds after the final whistle.
The beleaguered England team traipsed off to jeers from the Wembley crowd, with one disillusioned fan brandishing a hastily scrawled placard touting ‘Usain Bolt for Olympic Team Manager’. A distraught Pearce declined to speak to the post-match press, leaving media fulfilment to his second. When quizzed as to why Arsenal wunderkind Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remained on the bench for the duration, Wigley looked perplexed, then muttered, “Bloody hell, I forgot about him.”
Wembley Conferencing Suite 202 — 20th May, 2012
“The key, Adrian, is to understand that the public rate their gaffers in the same manner they do their Prime Ministers. The electorate inevitably hanker for the polar opposite of the incumbent, as evidenced by the succession of Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron, each one the perfect foil to their predecessor. So, too, it is with England managers.
“Venables was too slippery so we bring in Hoddle. Hoddle turns out to be too uppity with the players so Keegan steps in. Keegan’s tactical naivety begets Eriksson and the Swede’s liberal mores grate with proper British values, so we get McClaren. McClaren proves to be spineless, so we turn to the taciturn Capello.
“Ah, I understand, Sir. And Capello turns out to have the worst qualities of the rest, save McLaren, so–”
“Enough, Adrian! Back to the list. O’Neill?”
“Not after last time.”
“Same, and too much Chelsea baggage.”
“Ah, right. We definitely don’t want baggage. Hiddink?”
“Ditto with the baggage, Sir.”
“Yes, yes. Wenger?”
“Taking the Real Madrid job, Sir.”
“Ah, indeed he is. Funny how that Real malarkey panned out…”
19th May, 2012
Newscorp — Fabio Capello completed an incredible reversal of fortune after resigning as England Manager, capping his fourth term at the helm of AC Milan by following up a successful defence of the Scudetto with the acquisition of the club’s eighth European Cup, defeating former club Real Madrid in extra time in a captivating affair at the Allianz Arena in Munich tonight.
In a final which will be remembered as a battle of attrition, with two committed defences cancelling out a pair of star-studded attacks, former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted from a tight angle in the 100th minute to deny Jose Mourinho a record third Champions League victory with a third club. Ibra, who had previously flourished under Capello at Juventus and the Special One at Inter, led the Milan forward line admirably alongside the twin Brazilian threats, Robinho and Pato. However, the accolade of man-of-the-match was reserved for centre-back Phillipe Mexes. The French colossus thwarted several Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired sieges on the Milan goal.
The Rossoneri’s unlikely double emphatically vindicates shy and retired club owner Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to sack previous coach Massimilliano Allegri on the eve of Milan’s last-16 encounter with Arsenal, in February. At the time, the San Siro outfit were four points adrift of Juventus in the Serie A, and had just suffered a Coppa Italia defeat at the hands of the Turin club. On receiving the famous European Cup trophy for a second time in his decorated career, Capello paid special thanks to the former Italian Prime Minister, praising him as a man of “high integrity and solid judgement.”
A defeated, but not humbled, Mourinho was adamant that the best team had lost and all but confirmed that he would be leaving Madrid for Chelsea the next day, suggesting that André Villas-Boas “clear his desk in the morning.”
Capello, who also called time on his time as AC Milan manager, tonight, announcing his intention to retire on top, refused to be drawn on the refusal of every one of his Champions League managerial opponents to consider the England job.
Last-16 adversary Arsene Wenger has already completed a move to the Santiago Bernabeu, Mourinho appears set for a return to Chelsea, unseating Capello’s quarter-final victim, Villas-Boas, who was briefly considered by the FA when Chelsea overtook the beleaguered Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham in the Premier League, and remained in the trophy hunt on three fronts going well into March. However, like Caesar, AVB’s senate of veteran players turned on their leader, each taking a turn to twist the knife. Without their confidence, the young Portuguese is headed for Anzhi Machakhkala, rather than Wembley. Finally, Pep Guardiola, the guru of slain semi-finalists Barcelona, has found a fresh, if familiar, challenge, in exchanging positions with Wenger, and taking up the reins at the Emirates.
When asked about his possible role in dissuading the four front-runners from taking the poisoned chalice, Capello simply smiled at the reporter and replied, “Wait till my book comes out.”
Wembley Conferencing Suite 202 — May 20th, 2012
“So what exactly was wrong with Fabio then, Sir?”
“That’s the problem, Adrian, no-one can exactly put their finger on it. Great CV, competent across the continent with many big clubs, and still is as yesterday proved. Came here, did the business in qualifying. South Africa was a mess, granted, but the players did not exactly cover themselves in glory. Stuck with him and again, sailed through qualifying, whereupon another player indiscretion disrupts his careful planning. That said, he was belligerent, a hard task-master, and at times used the language barrier as a smokescreen.
“The new man should move away from that. Be firm but understanding, be able to mislead rather than avoid press and players alike, and be a likeable and personable character free from controv –wait a second… By George, I’ve got it! I should do it!”
“Erm, sorry. Do what, Sir?”
“I should be the next manager! I tick all the boxes, I’m English, well-spoken, morally irreproachable, authoritative but engaging, well-respected by everyone in the game… It’ a perfect fit!”
“But Sir I–”
“Oh come on Adrian! The Norway game is just over a week away and we need a confirmed name for the media by tomorrow morning or they’ll crucify us! We’ve gone through the blasted list Lord knows how many times, everyone on it won’t come near us with a gas mask and a ten-foot pole. Those not on the list would never pass muster, ergo it falls upon me to step into the void and be Saviour of England.”
“You Sir? Are you sure? Sir Trevor?”
“Yes, Adrian, me. Sir Trevor Brooking. Next England manager.”
The Last King Of England by Emelie Okeke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.