Acrimony comes with the England job
The iconic image of Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley in 1966 captures a moment of sporting achievement that the England national football team have been striving to replicate ever since, despite the element of controversy that led to the Three Lions beating West Germany 4-2. Sir Alf Ramsey will forever be remembered as the pioneer who changed the entire dynamics of how England played, with his “Wingless Wonders” not only winning the World Cup on home soil, but a team blessed with football greats such as Moore, Gordon Banks, Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Bobby Charlton, also came third at the 1968 European Championship and reached the quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup and 1972 European Championship. Ramsey is rightly remembered as one of the best British managers ever to grace the game, but while England have rarely come close to winning a major tournament in the fifty years since that memorable day at Wembley, one thing has remained – the acrimonious manner in which England managers lose their job.
Despite his crowning achievement, Ramsey was not immune from criticism. His innovative tactics revolutionised the English game and changed the entire perception of how it should be played, with his ability to instil fierce loyalty and an unbreakable spirit into his players proving imperative during the 1966 World Cup. However, he was not one for toeing the line, with his aloof manner not fitting in well with certain members at the Football Association who, after England failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, moved swiftly to discard Ramsey at the blink of an eye. His wife believes that her late husband was left a ‘broken man’, and that the treatment of Sir Alf from the FA was ‘disgraceful’ and contributed to his demise in health. The manner in which he was simply tossed aside without a thought for what he achieved during his tenure lacked class, but Ramsey’s sacking has set a trend that has turned the England job into a poisoned chalice.
Managers are often the fall guys when things do not turn out as planned, particularly when the England national team is concerned. Betway are amongst a number of bookmakers who back the Three Lions to achieve an element of success in their football betting odds for every major tournament, even though hopes and expectations have become most realistic in recent years as it has become apparent that England not only struggle to match up to the best national sides around, but have also been overtaken by emerging countries who have greater setups and quality at their disposal. Not one manager since Ramsey have gone past the semi-finals stages, with Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables the only ones to have taken England into the last four in 1990 and 1996 respectively; both managers lost against Germany on penalties, with the agonising defeats ultimately signalling the end of their England managerial careers. Both men made a big impact during their time as England manager, but even they were subject to attacks from the British media who have more than played their part in turning fans against those who did everything in their power to make England successful on the pitch.
The list of England managers who have left under acrimonious circumstances over the years is quite remarkable:
Sir Alf Ramsey (1963-1974) – The World Cup-winning manager was swiftly sacked once he failed to succeed with England, despite all the success he achieved whilst in charge.
Don Revie (1974-1977) – Revie quit his post amidst a whirlwind of controversy to become the manager of the United Arab Emirates football team. He felt the job was not worth the aggravation and heartache after calls for his head became too much, with poor results, an inability to adapt to international management and questionable player selection leading to his departure. The FA attempted to suspend Revie for ten years for bringing the game into disrepute, but although a subsequent lawsuit overturned the suspension, his reputation in England was irreparable.
Graham Taylor (1990-1993) – Taylor became England manager amid a wave of criticism, and resigned in exactly the same way. Taylor was never a popular choice, with his decision to substitute Gary Lineker backfired as England lost 2-1 against Sweden, and were therefore knocked out of the 1992 European Champions group stage. It led to The Sun starting an infamous “turnip” campaign, which included Taylor’s face being superimposed onto a turnip and printed on the back page. Things did not get better, with the press vilifying Taylor following a number of poor performances, which led to England’s failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup; Taylor duly resigned.
Glenn Hoddle (1996-1999) – He appeared to be steering England in the right direction with a crop of talented players which included David Beckham and Michael Owen, but ill-advised and shocking comments made about disabled people gave the FA no choice but to sack Hoddle.
Sven-Goran Eriksson (2001-2006) – Eriksson received considerable backing from the players who felt Eriksson was the perfect man for the job as England’s first foreign manager. But despite leading the team to the quarter-finals at the 2004 European Championship and 2006 World Cup, a series of scandals exposed by the British press proved to be his undoing. Being the victim of a tabloid ‘sting’ involving “The Fake Sheikh” is believed to have been the final straw as the FA let Eriksson go after the 2006 World Cup.
Steve McClaren (2006-2007) – The embarrassing nature of England’s defeat to Croatia at Wembley not only saw the team fail to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, but also saw the British press name McClaren ‘The Wally with the Brolly’ after he stood forlorn on the sidelines holding an umbrella while England crashed out.
McClaren did hold the record for the shortest spell in charge of the England team, with his tenure spanning a mere eighteen games in sixteen months. That was until Sam Allardyce replaced Roy Hodgson this summer after the debacle at Euro 2016, when they were knocked out by Iceland and won just one of their four games in France. It all started so well for the former Bolton, West Ham United and Sunderland manager, with Adam Lallana’s injury-time goal securing a deserved 1-0 win in Slovakia to get England’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign off to a good start. It left fans and pundits feeling confident that England could move forward under a manager who had, in his own words, secured his “dream job”, and with more betting options on Betway, the Three Lions were backed to top the group and enjoy another flawless qualifying campaign.
Just as things were starting to look rosy, The Daily Telegraph revealed a sting operation that painted the England manager in an extremely bad light. An undercover investigation into third party ownership in football revealed that Allardyce negotiated a £400,000 contract to discuss the ways of circumventing the rules, along with making derogatory comments about Hodgson and the FA’s decision to rebuild Wembley. It is clear that Allardyce was fuelled by greed and showed a complete disregard for his position as England manager, and paid the ultimate price as he resigned via mutual agreement after just 67 days and only 1 game in charge. Allardyce stated that “entrapment has won” during a brief interview with the press days after he left, and while he may have a point in regards to the way that the British media go out of their way to dig up anything they can on the current England manager, given that the same thing very rarely happens in other countries, he can only have himself to blame for undermining his own position.
It remains to be seen whether England can enjoy a future in international football without managers leaving under acrimonious circumstances, but if history is anything to go by, then it may only be a matter of time before more headlines are made for all the wrong reasons.