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England national football team manager

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England national football team manager

The role of an England national football team manager was first established in May 1947 with the appointment of Walter Winterbottom. Before this, the England team was selected by the "International Selection Committee", a process in which the Football Association (FA) would select coaches and trainers from the league to prepare the side for single games, but where all decisions ultimately remained under the control of the committee. A 1–0 defeat by Switzerland prompted FA secretary Stanley Rous to raise Winterbottom from "National Director of coaching" to "Manager".


Eighteen men have occupied the post since its inception; four of those were in short-term caretaker manager roles: Joe Mercer (seven games in charge), Howard Wilkinson (two games, a year apart from one another), Peter Taylor (one game) and Stuart Pearce (one game). In comparison, Winterbottom held the position for the longest to date; a tenure of 16 years, comprising four World Cups and a total of 139 matches. Alf Ramsey is the only manager to have won a major tournament, winning the 1966 World Cup with his "Wingless Wonders". No other manager has progressed beyond the semi-finals of a major competition before or since, with only two managers achieving a semi-final appearance, Bobby Robson at the 1990 World Cup, and Terry Venables in the 1996 European Championship.

Swedish coach Sven-Göran Eriksson became the first foreign manager of the team in January 2001 amid much acrimony; he helped the team to three successive quarter-finals in major championships. Italian manager Fabio Capello replaced Steve McClaren in December 2007, after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship. Capello's side endured a lacklustre performance during the 2010 World Cup, but the FA confirmed that he would remain in the role. However, Capello resigned in February 2012, following a disagreement with the FA over their removal of John Terry's captaincy. He was replaced, on a caretaker basis, by Stuart Pearce, before Roy Hodgson was named as Capello's permanent replacement in May 2012. Hodgson's contract finished on the 27 June 2016 as England were knocked out of UEFA Euro 2016 by Iceland in the round of 16. Sam Allardyce was announced as his successor a month later, but subsequently left the role after just one competitive match. He was replaced on a caretaker basis by England Under-21 coach and former England international defender Gareth Southgate, whose position was made permanent after four matches.

The England manager's job is subject to intense press scrutiny, often including revelations about the incumbent's private life. Due to the high level of expectation of both the public and media the role has been described as "the impossible job" or compared in importance in national culture to that of the British Prime Minister.


The England manager's role means he has sole responsibility for all on-the-field elements of the England team. Among other activities, this includes selecting the national team squad, the starting team, captain, tactics, substitutes and penalty-takers. Before 1946, the "Select Committee" (as appointed by the FA) would manage all issues barring the actual match day team selection, formation and tactics which was left to the head coach for the event. However interference was common, and not only from the FA. After the Second World War, with the relaunch of competitive international calendar, the manager's role expanded to take in all elements: from the selection of hotel and training camp venues, through to food and travel arrangements.

The manager is given a free hand in selecting his coaching ("back room") staff. For example, in 2008 Fabio Capello appointed four Italians (Franco Baldini as general manager, Italo Galbiati as assistant coach, Franco Tancredi as goalkeeping coach and Massimo Neri as fitness coach); he then appointed Englishman Stuart Pearce, the England Under 21s coach, as an England coach, with Capello stating "From the start I made it clear that I wanted an English coach as part of my coaching team."

The England manager may also involve himself in wider issues beyond the on-the-field team issues. The England manager is expected to advise the FA on how to approach the complex bidding system that surrounds the arrangement of fixtures for a qualifying campaign. On a more tactical level, a host of other details can be influenced; Capello is even believed to have instructed the Wembley ball boys to return balls at speed when they go out of play.


The process of appointing a new England manager is undertaken by an FA committee, comprising board members and other high-ranking FA officials. For example, the members of the selection panel which appointed Sven-Göran Eriksson in 2001 were: chief executive Adam Crozier, chairman Geoff Thompson, vice-chairman Dave Richards, club chairmen and FA board members David Dein and Peter Ridsdale, and technical director Howard Wilkinson.

All nineteen England managers had played the game professionally. Of the seventeen Englishmen to hold the post of manager, six were never capped for the senior England team as a player (Winterbottom, Greenwood, Wilkinson, Graham Taylor, McClaren, Allardyce). Of the nine that did, five earned caps numbering in double-figures: Robson (20), Ramsey (32), Hoddle (53), Keegan (63), and Southgate (57). Two also served as England captains, Ramsey (3) and Keegan (31). Of the two foreign managers, only Capello played for a national team, earning 32 caps for Italy.

National significance

The England manager's job has been compared in importance to that of the Prime Minister. Passion for football as England's national sport is coupled with patriotism and Wembley Stadium as the "home" of football. The dismissal or appointment of an England manager is front page news and the subject of intense interest. Large sums are wagered on England winning, and during tournaments the country is festooned in St George's flags; during the 2006 World Cup, 27% of English adults bought a flag in one month alone. Shops and offices will be deserted as vast numbers of people watch the game.

The England manager's job is made more complex by his dependence on the co-operation of clubs and their managers in releasing players for friendlies, and "club versus country" conflict is said to have happened when permission is refused, given reluctantly, or negotiated. There are also repeated comments that the length of the English season (the top flight plays 38 league matches) is unhelpful for preparing tired players for major tournaments, but the self-interest of the Premier League makes a reduction in the number of games unlikely, particularly in light of the 2008 proposal for Game 39, a match played between Premier League clubs outside the country. This combination of factors, coupled with England's mediocre record in major championships has led to the England manager's job being described as the "impossible job".

Full-time era begins

Before 1946, the England national football team had been under the leadership of a Football Association official and a trainer, usually from a London club. Appointed in 1946, initially as chief coach, Walter Winterbottom had been a member of the FA "International Selection Committee". The England squad was selected by an FA committee during his tenure, with Winterbottom's role restricted to selecting the starting team together with the coaching and tactics. In his first game as manager, he led England to a 7–2 victory over Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast in the 1946–47 British Home Championship. Success in the Home Championship in 1950 resulted in England's qualification to the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. During the tournament, England suffered a shock defeat against the United States, and went out of the tournament with another 1–0 defeat, this time to Spain.

England experienced another surprise upset under Winterbottom's guidance in 1953 when Hungary defeated England 6–3 at Wembley Stadium. Winterbottom said afterwards, "... The press tended to think we would win easily, but I tried to point out that the Hungarians were actually a great side." He guided England to first place in the 1954 British Home Championship, which qualified the team for the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, but saw his side knocked out in the quarter-finals, going down 4–2 against Uruguay. Four wins from four matches enabled England's qualification for the 1958 World Cup only for Winterbottom's side to fail in the group play-off stage, losing 1–0 to USSR. England lost to Brazil in the quarter-final of the 1962 World Cup in Chile and, under attack from the British press, Winterbottom resigned five months later. He remains the longest serving manager of England.

World Cup success

Alf Ramsey took control of the team in 1962, but unlike Winterbottom, Ramsey had been a club manager, winning the League championship with Ipswich Town. Upon his appointment, he declared England would win the 1966 World Cup. His first match in charge resulted in a 5–2 loss at Parc des Princes against France. England automatically qualified for the 1966 World Cup as hosts and, after a goalless draw in the first match against Uruguay, four consecutive victories saw England through to the final against West Germany. A 4–2 victory, after extra time, won England the World Cup for the only time. As a result of his and England's achievements, Ramsey was awarded a knighthood in 1967. The following year England finished third in the 1968 European Championship in Rome, but Ramsey reflected "We are world champions. Third place is not our real position."

Automatic qualification for the 1970 World Cup was secured as world champions so Ramsey led England on a pre-tournament tour of South America. The effects of altitude on the team led Ramsey to appoint the first full-time team doctor, Neil Phillips, who helped prepare the squad for the forthcoming tournament in Mexico. England were defeated in the quarter-final by West Germany; with a 2–0 lead with 25 minutes of the match remaining, Ramsey substituted Bobby Charlton and goalscorer Martin Peters, but West Germany went on to win 3–2 after extra time. Ramsey was heavily criticised in the British press for the substitutions. Losing out to West Germany again, this time in a two-legged qualifying quarter final in the 1972 European Championship, Ramsey prepared England for qualification for the 1974 World Cup. Needing a win against Poland, Ramsey's tactical use of substitutions was again called into question as the match ended in a 1–1 draw. England had failed to qualify for the World Cup, and Ramsey was sacked the following May.

Turbulent times

Joe Mercer took control of the team on a caretaker basis for seven matches, before the FA appointed Don Revie on a five-year contract. It was a year before Revie's England suffered a defeat but despite this, he changed his starting line-up for every game. His relationship with the FA had broken down and his team-building exercises, including carpet bowls and indoor golf, led to disconsolation in the squad. A 2–0 defeat to the Netherlands at Wembley turned the press against him; some commentators compared the loss to the 6–3 defeat by Hungary in 1953. Convinced he was to be replaced by Bobby Robson, he announced he was to become manager of the United Arab Emirates team. Selling his story to the Daily Mail, he subsequently resigned on 11 July 1977. Revie was charged with bringing the game into disrepute and was banned by the FA in a "kangaroo court" for ten years. On appeal to the High Court, the ban was overturned but the judge ordered Revie to pay two-thirds of the costs. Brian Clough applied for the position in 1977, but the FA rejected him and Ron Greenwood was appointed, initially as a temporary replacement for Revie, but later in 1977 on a permanent basis. Bobby Moore described him as "the encyclopaedia of football", and he guided England to Euro 1980 without a defeat during qualification.

The team exited the tournament at the group qualifying stage and Greenwood turned his attention to qualification for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Defeats in Switzerland and Romania led Greenwood to consider resignation, but a victory over Hungary convinced him to stay. A 2–1 defeat in Oslo, which led to commentator Bjørge Lillelien's famous outburst concluding with "Your boys took a hell of a beating!", meant England required at least a point in their final qualifying game against Hungary. A Paul Mariner goal secured victory and qualification for the team. Wins over France, Czechoslovakia and Kuwait allowed England into the second round group but two 0–0 draws ended in England going out of the tournament, without having lost a game. Greenwood retired immediately after the World Cup and on 7 July 1982, two days after England were knocked out of the 1982 World Cup, Bobby Robson was appointed England manager, selecting former West Bromwich Albion team-mate Don Howe as his chief coach.

Robson and "The Hand of God"

Robson's tenure included 28 qualifying matches, of which only one, against Denmark in 1983, resulted in a defeat. This contributed to England's failure to qualify for the 1984 European Championships, and Robson offered his resignation. It was rejected by the FA chairman, Bert Millichip, and Robson went on to lead the England team to qualify for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. England were defeated in the quarter-final by Argentina with a brace of goals from Diego Maradona; the infamous "Hand of God" goal, and the "Goal of the Century" he scored five minutes later.

Robson's England dropped only one point in qualifying for Euro 1988, which included an 8–0 win over Turkey. However, this was followed by failure at the tournament itself, held in West Germany, where England were knocked out in the group stage. They finished bottom of their qualifying group, succumbing to defeats against Ireland, the Netherlands and the USSR. Robson was vilified by the British press, and after a draw in a friendly with Saudi Arabia, one newspaper demanded: "In the name of Allah, go". Robson led England without conceding a goal through the six-match qualification for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

As in the 1986 World Cup, Robson was denied the service of his captain, Bryan Robson, who suffered an achilles tendon injury which prevented him playing in the latter stages of the tournament. England topped their qualifying group, accumulating four points from their three games. However their progress was not without controversy. England changed formation from their traditional 4–4–2 to incorporate a sweeper, with some sources suggesting this was due to player revolt after the 1–1 draw in the first match with the Republic of Ireland. Robson denies this claim in his autobiography. This was followed by victories over Belgium and Cameroon in the knock-out stages, to set up a semi-final with West Germany.

England lost the match on a penalty shoot-out, after the score had been level at 1–1 following extra time. Robson's last public appearance before his death from cancer was at the Sir Bobby Robson Trophy match in July 2009, played between veterans from that 1990 semi-final as a tribute to his life and in aid of his cancer charity.

Controversial times

Robson had announced before the tournament that he would step down from the post after the finals and Graham Taylor was appointed, having been approached in April 1990 by the FA. Failure to proceed past the group stage of Euro 1992 with a 2–1 defeat against Sweden led to newspaper headlines such as "Swedes 2 Turnips 1" and Taylor's nickname of "Turnip Head". Following defeat to the Netherlands in the penultimate qualifying match for the 1994 World Cup, for only the third time in its history, England had failed to qualify for the World Cup. The qualifying campaign was recorded in an television documentary, and Taylor's remark "Do I not like that" soon after entered popular culture.

Failure in the qualification resulted in Taylor resigning, and Terry Venables took over the helm in 1994. As England were hosts for Euro 96, he did not manage the team in a competitive match for over two years. In January 1996, he announced that he would resign after the tournament as a result of several court cases, but led England to the semi-finals, where they were defeated by Germany on penalties. He was replaced by Glenn Hoddle, whose unorthodox off-the-field approach in bringing in faith healer Eileen Drewery to help the team drew significant criticism. Hoddle suggested she was "more of an agony aunt" but during the 1998 World Cup, the press suggested Drewery had influenced Hoddle in squad selection. England were knocked out of the tournament in the second round, once again on penalties, this time against Argentina. Hoddle's diary portraying his version of events at the World Cup was subsequently published, drawing further criticism.

An interview with Matt Dickinson, a reporter from The Times, suggested that Hoddle had a "controversial belief that the disabled, and others, are being punished for sins in a former life." Hoddle's comments were criticised by several notable politicians, including Sports Minister Tony Banks and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Hoddle stated that he was not prepared to resign and claimed his words were misinterpreted and pointed out his contributions and commitment to organisations helping the disabled. The Football Association terminated Hoddle's contract soon afterwards, which was welcomed by representatives of disabled groups.

Howard Wilkinson was caretaker manager for two games, before the appointment of Kevin Keegan in February 1999. Initially combining the job with a role at Fulham, Keegan was made full-time coach in May. He led England to qualification for the 2000 European Championship following success in a two-legged play-off against Scotland. Two 3–2 losses resulted in England leaving the tournament at the group stage. A loss to Germany in the last international match at the old Wembley Stadium in the first 2002 World Cup qualifying match led to Keegan's resignation. Keegan resigned in the Wembley toilets, an hour after the team was booed off by the England fans; he told the FA officials that tactically he felt "a little short at this level". Wilkinson again returned as caretaker for one more match, followed by Peter Taylor who presided over a friendly loss to Italy.

Foreign management

The FA then took the unprecedented, and widely criticised step of appointing the first non-Englishman as coach, in the form of Swede Sven-Göran Eriksson. Eriksson had a good record in European domestic football, with success in Portugal and Italy, and had led clubs to win the UEFA Cup on two occasions. He led England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup with David Beckham scoring the vital equaliser against Greece, deep into injury time. England were knocked out by Brazil in the quarter-finals and Eriksson came under fire for his "ice-cool" appearance on the touchline failing to inspire his team, senior player Gareth Southgate contemptuously remarking after the tournament that "we needed Winston Churchill but we got Iain Duncan Smith".

Eriksson led England to qualification for the 2004 European Championship but once more the team fell at the quarter-final stage, again losing on penalties, this time to Portugal. Losing 1–0 to Northern Ireland in Belfast during the qualification for the 2006 World Cup led to fans chanting "Sack the Swede", frustrated again at the lack of obvious emotion in Eriksson while his coach, Steve McClaren was much more animated.

In January 2006, the FA announced that Eriksson would stand down after the World Cup. With the team losing in the quarter-final again to Portugal and again on penalties, Eriksson duly left the post in July. The search for Eriksson's replacement was controversial. It became clear that the FA wanted to appoint Luiz Felipe Scolari, but the approach was botched, and Scolari turned down the offer. Ultimately, Eriksson was replaced by the man who had coached the side under him, Steve McClaren.

Qualification for the 2008 European Championship proved too much, England losing the final qualifier against Croatia 3–2 in November 2007, when a draw would have been enough to take England to the finals. The British press turned on McClaren, former Scottish international Alan Hansen stating that "... what McClaren should be held accountable for is that with a squad of this quality he failed to qualify from what seemed a reasonably straightforward group ...". McClaren was sacked the day following the defeat to Croatia, and was replaced in December 2007 by Italian Fabio Capello.

Capello led England to qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals, winning nine of the team's ten qualifying matches. However, the team's performance in the tournament proper was less impressive. Two lacklustre draws in the group stage against the United States and Algeria were followed by an ignominious 4–1 defeat by traditional rivals Germany in the Round of 16. The team's performance was at least partly attributed to selection and tactical errors by Capello and led to calls for his dismissal. However, on 2 July, the FA confirmed that he would remain in the role until 2012, with Capello himself confirming his intention to step down and retire after Euro 2012.

Conflicting reports came out of the FA as to whether the next manager would be English. On 15 August 2010, the FA's Adrian Bevington stated to the BBC that "we should have an English manager after (Euro 2012)", but on 22 September, the FA's Director of Football Development, Trevor Brooking, stated that "We would like to go English (but) we've got to see what English people are available". Two weeks later, Capello's England qualified for Euro 2012 with a 2–2 draw away against Montenegro. In February 2012, Capello resigned following the FA's decision to remove the captaincy of the national side from John Terry, with Englishman Stuart Pearce taking over the role on a caretaker basis.

FA appoints an Englishman

Following a 3–2 defeat at Wembley by the Netherlands in March, Pearce was replaced on 1 May 2012 by then-West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson on a four-year contract. The build-up to UEFA Euro 2012 saw Hodgson lead England to two 1–0 victories over Norway in Oslo and Belgium at Wembley. Despite being based in Kraków in Poland, England's first fixture in Euro 2012 was in Donetsk against France, which ended in a 1–1 draw. Subsequent victories over Sweden and tournament co-hosts Ukraine resulted in a quarter-final match against Italy. The game ended goalless after extra time, sending the game to a penalty shootout which Italy won 4–2. Hodgson claimed that England's exit from major tournaments had become a "national obsession". With a 2–0 victory over Poland in October 2013, Hodgson led England to automatic qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

However, in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, England lost two consecutive group matches, against Italy and Uruguay, by 2–1 on each occasion. This was the first time England had lost two group matches since the 1950 World Cup (when they lost against the United States and Spain) and the first time England had been eliminated at the group stage since the 1958 World Cup. This was also the first time that England had not won a match at the tournament since 1958, and England's points total of one from three matches was its worst ever in the World Cup.

England qualified for the UEFA Euro 2016 in September 2015, following a 6–0 win over San Marino. On 5 September 2015, England beat San Marino 6–0 at San Marino Stadium, Serravalle, to qualify for the France Euro 2016. On 27 June 2016, after England were knocked out by Iceland in the round of 16, Hodgson resigned as manager.

On 22 July, Sam Allardyce was appointed England manager on a two-year contract. After only sixty seven days in the job, a video published by The Daily Telegraph showed Allardyce making insulting statements against former manager Roy Hodgson, and explaining how to circumvent regulations of The FA on third party ownership of players. He subsequently left the role as manager of England later that day. Former England international defender and England under-21 coach Gareth Southgate was given the senior role on a caretaker basis for four matches while the Football Association considered their options. Two wins, including a 3–0 victory over Scotland, and a draw in qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup and a 2–2 draw with Spain in a friendly followed under Southgate's temporary management, before he was formally appointed to the position full-time on 30 November 2016 on a four-year deal.

Media reaction

The reaction of the British media to the England national team manager reflects the changing nature of the British media generally. In recent times, managers have been attacked personally, for their personal beliefs, or private lives.

Personal attacks

The press had long campaigned for changes in management style and / or replacement of the manager himself, but a watershed was reached under the tenure of Graham Taylor, whose unsuccessful reign led to the manager being pilloried in the tabloids. Most notably, The Sun newspaper reacted to a damaging defeat by Sweden in the Euro 92 tournament, by the accompaniment of the headline "Swedes 2 Turnips 1" with a photographic montage of a turnip superimposed on Taylor's head. Taylor was thereafter often referred to in the media as "Graham Turnip" or "Turnip Taylor".

Subsequent footballing ignominies were then followed by other depictions of Taylor as a vegetable; England's first game after Euro 92 ended in a 1–0 defeat to Spain, and The Sun pictured Taylor as a "Spanish onion". When he resigned, following the loss of the 1994 FIFA World Cup spot to Norway, they reverted to the turnip image, accompanying the front page headline, "That's yer allotment".

Following Roy Hodgson's appointment, The Sun mocked his rhotacism manner of speech with a "Bwing on the Euwos!" front page headline. The FA called the headline "unacceptable" and more than 100 people complained to the Press Complaints Commission.


Glenn Hoddle attracted the media spotlight for two key issues unrelated to on-the-pitch affairs. In the first, his reliance upon purported faith healer Eileen Drewery was questioned. Drewery became part of the official England staff, and players were pressured to see her, even though many of them were sceptical. However, far more opprobrium was caused by Hoddle's comments about disabled people:

Public opinion, based upon the immediate media furore resulted in (according to one BBC poll) 90% of respondents believing Hoddle should not continue as English coach. However, the BBC survey showed that while many considered his comments insensitive to the disabled, others defended his right to express his religious beliefs by claiming that to sack him would constitute religious discrimination.

Private life

Eriksson's private life came under scrutiny, with an number of well-publicised accusations of trysts with women including Ulrika Jonsson, and FA secretary Faria Alam, despite his on-going relationship with Nancy Dell'Olio. Though Eriksson maintained in press conferences that his personal life was a private matter, his relationships with Jonsson in 2002 and Alam in 2004 were subject to tabloid headlines for several weeks.


The media, both broadsheet and tabloid, have sometimes campaigned for a manager to be dismissed, appointed or retained. Campaigns for managers to be dismissed have been front page news, with eye-catching headlines including "The final ron-devouz", "In the Name of Allah Go", "Norse Manure", "Blair Gives Hoddle The Red Card" for (respectively) Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle.

Eriksson survived several scandals whilst in office, but his tenure was eventually ended when he was one of a series of celebrities targeted by a tabloid 'sting', orchestrated by The Fake Sheikh. Eriksson's indiscretions revealed by the newspaper "... proved the final straw for the FA", although Eriksson was permitted to stay on in the role until the end of the 2006 World Cup.

These campaigns have also sometimes backfired. Former FA chief executive, Graham Kelly recalled a campaign, orchestrated by The Sun against Bobby Robson, that began in 1984 (six years before his resignation):

Sections of the media have often campaigned for a particular person to be appointed England manager. At various times, but particularly during the tenure of Bobby Robson, the media campaigned for the appointment of Brian Clough. Robson once told FA chairman Bert Millichip "I'm having a rough time and everybody wants Brian – give the job to him. If he's successful, everybody's happy. If he fails, that's the end of the clamour for Brian Clough to be England manager." Robson added, "He would have ruffled a few feathers and disturbed the corridors of power but I think he would have been a good England manager. He had good judgement, knew how to design a team and was a great motivator." Terry Venables was also the subject of a media campaign for dismissal during his time as manager but was then supported by the press to return to the role in 2000.

Steve McClaren received media criticism, and, as failure to qualify for Euro 2008 looked increasingly likely, the headlines became more visceral. In January 2008, football magazine When Saturday Comes described the newspaper coverage of his final month as "relentless and remorseless". Both tabloids and broadsheets published critical pieces, with The Times headlining an editorial "Fail and McClaren has to go".

The media have also parodied this genre of campaigns for recruitment, dismissal or retention of managers. In October 2000, The Sun launched a campaign promoting a donkey as the new England manager.

Statistical summary

The following table provides a summary of the complete record of each England manager including their progress in both the World Cup and the European Championship.

Statistics correct as of 17 November 2016

Key: P–games played, W–games won, D–games drawn; L–games lost, %–win percentage

Statistical summary for British Home championships

The following table provides a summary of results for each England manager in the British Home Championship, held annually until the 1983–84 season.

Key: P–Number of complete tournaments played, W–Number of tournaments won, S–Number of tournaments shared, %–outright win percentage


England national football team manager Wikipedia

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