Hiddink and Redknapp are the stand-out choices for England role
Harry Redknapp and Guus Hiddink are best candidates to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss, writes Michael Owen
As Fabio Capello’s time as England manger comes to an end, his tenure is more likely to be remembered for the lows rather than the highs.
The Italian may hold the record for the highest win percentage of an England boss, but a poor showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, coupled with the stripping of John Terry’s captaincy on two occasions, will cast a bleak shadow over his time in the Wembley hot seat.
Even a solid showing in the Euro 2012 qualifiers has done little to rekindle interest in the national team, with the only real talking point since the disappointment of 2010 being the emergence of young starlets such as Jack Rodwell, Kyle Walker and Phil Jones.
Capello’s decision to retire works well for both parties. The former Real Madrid manager has walked away from a position he looked to have become less passionate about, with his reputation still intact, if not a little tarnished.
Meanwhile, the FA have parted ways with a coach who has failed to impress for the best part of a year-and-a-half.
The FA chiefs now face the unenviable task of finding someone suitable to lead England into the European Championships and beyond.
With the likelihood of another lucrative, long-term contract being on offer, it’s important English football’s governing body makes the right decision.
Harry Redknapp, the bookmaker’s favourite, would be the populist choice. Many players, coaches and analysts have expressed their desire to see an English manager in charge of the national side, and Redknapp is by far the most qualified of those native to the country.
The veteran coach guided crisis-stricken Portsmouth to FA Cup glory before taking Spurs from the Premier League relegation places the Champions League, with the north London side currently residing in third behind Manchester City and United.
However, Redknapp’s strong performance as Spurs boss may well be the biggest stumbling block in any potential appointment as England manager.
The club will almost certainly reject any move by the FA to approach Redknapp, while the manager himself will feel a degree of loyalty to the club that have backed him throughout his strenuous tax evasion trial.
Though Redknapp could remain at Spurs until the end of the season, this wouldn’t be an ideal scenario for either party, with the Tottenham players having to conclude a pivotal campaign, knowing their manager will be leaving come the end of the season.
Furthermore, England would benefit more from having a head coach who could dedicate the majority of his time to planning ahead to the European Championships.
Looking further afield, Guus Hiddink could be considered a major contender for the job. Though not English, what the veteran manager lacks in patriotism, he makes up for in experience, having managed at international level with Holland, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey.
At Chelsea, Hiddink showed an ability to turn transform the fortunes of a stumbling team in a short period of time, advantageous for England with just four months to go until they travel to Poland and Ukraine.
The 65-year-old’s handling of the Dutch squad in the mid-1990s, known for its in-fighting and big personalities, is another key strength of the former Real Madrid manager.
There are other, considerably less likely, candidates for the job. Current West Bromwich Albion boss Roy Hodgson is one name touted, while Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill and former Liverpool head coach Rafael Benitez are interesting suggestions for the hot-seat.
But, Redknapp and Hiddink are the FA’s stand-out choices. Redknapp, being English, would ultimately be more popular with the supporters, though it could be argued Hiddink is the better qualified and more experienced of the two candidates.
Whoever the FA pick, it has to be the right decision as an expectant nation awaits another major international tournament this summer.