Paul Parker: Forget Big Sam - Steve Bruce would be a far better bet for England
Paul Parker lets rip at the idea that Sam Allardyce or Jurgen Klinsmann should manage England. He has a much better idea...
Has it really got so bad that England might end up with Sam Allardyce as manager?
Big Sam is a firefighter. A scrapper. The bloke you call in to drag a team out of trouble, or over the line. But he absolutely shouldn't be in charge of the England team.
After the Euros we just had, you can understand the impulse a bit: get someone to steady the ship, and given that it's pretty clear we're not a first-rate footballing country these days then maybe it makes sense from a certain point of view.
But have we really sunk so low as to go with Sam? What has he ever won as player or a manager? The Magaluf Cup?
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce acknowledges fans after the gameReuters
The one thing that Sam's got going for him is that he's English, and I do think we absolutely have to have an English manager in charge of the national team. No other big footballing nation would consider a foreign coach – France, Italy, Spain, Germany, all of them. Even Iceland had a local manager working together with a more experienced coach, and it's him who'll take over now that the Euros are over.
That said, English candidates with a record of top level success are thin on the ground these days. It wasn't always that way: when Bobby Robson came in he had a fantastic club CV, and the same with Terry Venables.
Even Glenn Hoddle had proved himself as a club manager before he took the job on, and if the FA hadn't started caring more about off-pitch controversy than how good the team was then things might have been very different. But Glenn was sacked for saying a few silly things, and that set us on a road which has led us here.
1998 World Cup England Glenn Hoddle (Reuters)Reuters
Sven Goran-Eriksson was the man who first dirtied the name of the England job, earning vast amounts of money for mediocrity. Fabio Capello carried on in that vein, with a side that turned in performances that would have got an Englishman fired in two seconds flat.
And now Klinsmann is mentioned as a possibility? No, no, no.
He'd be more of the same. Yes, he played well for a short stint in England, but he's never managed here and would be totally wrong for the job.
Those who point to his record as an international manager with Germany and the USA are failing to look at the facts properly.
With Germany, the team he was in charge of was young, talented, exciting and went on to win the World Cup. He used his strength of personality as a former World Cup-winner himself to impress and inspire them – while his assistant did all the work. The name of that assistant, of course, was Joachim Löw.
Joachim Löw and Jürgen Klinsmann - apprentice and masterImago
Then with the USA he used different tactics: a proper, European approach to the game that improved them for a while, but didn't stick and is now going backwards fast. Anyone who saw them in the Copa America in the last few weeks will have seen just how poor they looked. He'd be totally wrong on every level.
There is one man out there, though, who I think fits the bill perfectly: Steve Bruce.
He's English. He's played at the highest level, winning European tournaments. He knows what it's like to be in the dressing room with some of the most talented players in the world.
Like Allardyce, his record of club success as a manager is in doing wonders with smaller clubs. But unlike Allardyce, he's taken a team to an FA Cup final.
He's got more about him as a manager, and as a man, than Allardyce. He's a good guy who the players will respond to, and who'll know exactly where to draw the line. He'd have no tolerance for petulance, he'd make the most of experience, and he'd have no truck with nonsensical ideas like playing Wayne Rooney completely out of position.
He'd bring an end to the ridiculous, counter-productive way the England players are locked away during tournaments. Their counterparts with Wales and Northern Ireland were allowed to go and enjoy it; so would England if Bruce were in charge – and that's something that would help enormously.
Above all, he'd understand the key thing that the next England manager needs. We don't need to fast-track young kids into the side and hype them up as potential tournament winners. We need to forget all about winning tournaments, and instead focus on building a team – a team, like Italy under Antonio Conte or Wales under Chris Coleman, who have a club culture and discipline running through them, but who loved the game and playing with each other.
And who knows? They might even start being desperate to play for England again, instead of their careers revolving around pay cheques, Champions League appearances, and how many pages of the tabloid coverage their wives and girlfriends get.