What can England achieve at Euro 2012?
Whoever takes over from Fabio Capello either as a caretaker manager or a long-term replacement faces the dauting task of living up to somewhat unrealistic hopes that England will land their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Let’s face it, the Three Lions have entered every tournament since, bar Euro 1996 on home soil, as one of the dark horses to bring the silverware back home but never as the top contenders among a plethora of more talented if not more resourceful nations taking centre stage either in European Championships or World Cups.
The Capello experiment failed for two reasons. One, as my colleague Mitch Phillips pointed out, was his inability to warm up to the English mindset and language. The other, in my humble opinion as an outsider, is that for all his impressive achievements with Real Madrid, Milan, Juventus and Roma, the 66-year old had never coached a national team during his illustrious career and lacked a certain verve.
There is precious little margin for error in international football and even more so for those who take the unforgiving job of coaching England. Many of Capello’s predecessors found the ever so thin line between success and failure too tough to navigate, amid cries from glory-hunting fans to bring the trophy “back home” to the birthplace of the game.
From the vast lands of eastern Europe, a region as alien to the English mentality as Capello’s largely incomprehensible attempts to address the players in an adopted language, an England triumph looks as unlikely as did in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, especially with Wayne Rooney out of their opening two games with suspension and John Terry’s involvement hanging in the balance all together after he was stripped of captaincy.
Then again, will one-game caretaker Stuart Pearce, whose penalty miss in the shootout against Germany in their epic 1990 World Cup semi-final denied England a chance of rekindling past glory, be given the opportunity for what would be a spectacular reprieve?
Is he the right man for the job on a long-term basis or should the FA roll out the red carpet for favourite Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, at the end of the season?
Zoran is Reuters Balkan sports correspondent
PHOTO: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s manager Harry Redknapp arrives for a training session at the club’s training ground in Chigwell, southern England February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh