With the end of the European Championship, my summer is back to being incredibly dull and distinctly soccer-less. Fortunately, the Olympics will be kicking off in Rio de Janeiro in three weeks, but even that seems too far away. As we wait for international soccer — and then the domestic leagues — to kick off again, we can turn our attention to the summer transfer window.
The biggest signing so far has probably been charismatic Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move to Manchester United Football Clum. This one is really no surprise, as MUFC had been his rumored destination ever since Ibrahimovic announced his intention to leave Paris Saint-Germain Football Club. What might come as a surprise is the fact that he gets along spectacularly with the equally egotistical new manager of Manchester United, Jose Mourinho. I am not entirely sure just how Ibrahimovic will fit in at United, but with Mourinho taking over who knows just how different the Manchester team will be.
For me, the soccer signing that we should all be watching is the English Football Association’s hunt to find the next manager of the national team. Ever since England’s disastrous Euro Cup campaign and the subsequent resignation of manager Roy Hodgson, the FA has been desperately trying to find the right person to fix all of England’s woes. While finding a new, actually promising will surely have an enormous impact upon the national team’s fortunes, the new manager will certainly have his work cut out for him.
One of England’s biggest challenges is the lack of team unity. It is to be expected of course, given that its squad members spend the entire season playing against each other in the English Premier League.
The difference between England and, say, Germany, for example, is that much of the German squad is made up of players from just three teams: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg. It makes a huge difference when the players are already used to being teammates, because there is a sense of stability and familiarity. Hodgson attempted to do this for the Euros, calling up six players from Liverpool and Manchester United each, but he inexplicably never really played the teammates together.
So who are the candidates in the running to become the next manager of England? There really are two, maybe three viable options. One of them is already familiar to those of us across the pond: our very own United States Men’s National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
Surprised? It could be considered somewhat surprising, seeing as how Klinsmann’s tenure with the USMNT has been filled with mixed results. Klinsmann has a 56 percent win ratio so far with the Americans; Roy Hodgson was only marginally better at 58.9 percent. He has faced heavy criticism for his supposedly holistic approach to crucial squad activities like training. He has also heavily tinkered with his lineups, a technique that really did not start panning out until this year’s Copa America.
However, he does have hands-on experience as both a player and manager. Winner of a World Cup as a former player for West Germany, Klinsmann has also managed the Germany national football team and Bayern Munich. Not exactly beloved at Bayern, Klinsmann nevertheless was able to rejuvenate the German national team, leading them all the way to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
Personally, I find it very hard to believe that the FA will try to hire Klinsmann as its next coach. While I do think he would find it easier to mold England into his own make than the United States team has been, I do not think that he is the right fit due to the frequent tactical mistakes that he makes.
Sunderland Association Football Club manager Sam Allardyce is the current favorite to take over the reigns of the English national team, and deservedly so. Affectionately known as Big Sam, Allardyce helped Sunderland avoid being relegated last season after a disastrous start to the season. Allardyce is a firm believer in the science of sport, whether it be using cryotherapy chambers to prevent injuries or having his players do yoga. Another bonus of having Allardyce at the helm would be the fact that he is very keen on training. This would certainly help out with England’s frequent injury problems, as well as create benefits that would carry over to the Premier League.
Allardyce is also well-known for his loud, outspoken personality. I think that this would be a huge improvement for England, as it would help erase the meekness of the Hodgson era. It also just seems to be the case that big personality managers — such as Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp — are capable of vastly boosting team morale. This is something that England desperately is in need of.
Tactically, Allardyce is a fan of long ball movements in percentages. This belief is something that critics have often held against him, and could very well be a factor in why he did not get the job back in 2006. He is very big on defending, which may not lead to the prettiest of games but certainly gets the job done, as seen by Portugal’s triumph at the Euro Cup this year.
The final candidate is current Arsenal Football Club manager Arsene Wenger. I really think that this is just wishful thinking here. Wenger has said that he would be interested in the job, but he wants to wait until next year when his contract expires. Seeing as the FA is looking for a long-term fix in the shortest amount of time, I really cannot see Wenger getting the job.
I am expecting that any day now, Allardyce will be announced as the new England manager. While this would be horrendous for Sunderland, it ultimately would be a fantastic thing for English football as a whole. Regardless of the FA’s decision, we can only hope that England will start to turn things around.
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