Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 8 January 2008

Blatter - Man of the Fifties...

It's something no decent person should have to face first thing in the morning: a picture of Sepp Blatter staring out at you from your newspaper. Talk about a bad start to your day...

And why was he taking up valuable column inches on this particular occasion? Because the English FA (shock horror) have dared to appoint a head coach for its national team that isn't English. You've got to hand it to him - he's as sharp as a tack when it comes to this sort of thing.

Did no-one tell him about Sven? Oh well, never mind. Anyway, Von Blatter of Switzerland has hauled out his trusty old soapbox once again and proclaimed to anyone that'll listen that it's "a little surprising that the motherland of football has ignored a sacrosanct law or belief that the national team manager should be from the same country as the players."

And fair enough to. Next time I see Owen Hargreaves, I'll ask him if there are any decent managers in Canada that might be interested in being a future head of the England team.

He went on to say: "In fact, most of the best teams have a coach from their own country." As I didn't believe him for a moment, I thought I'd check this out to see if he was right. To my amazement, he was. Out of FIFA's top 20 highest-ranked teams, only four have a foreign manager, one of which is Fabio Capello of England, the others being Portugal's Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil), Greece's Otto Rehhagel (Germany) and Nigeria's Berti Vogts (Germany).

But that's about all Sepp Blatter is right about. It may have been the case once upon a time that a national team should have a manager from the same country, but that's no longer the case. What remains the same is the desire by a great many international football associations (and their fans) to see their team do well, play better and perhaps even win something.

We're not living in the 1950's anymore. If there's a coach out there that can bring a change in fortunes to a team and bring a smile back to the faces of the supporters, who the hell cares? We're not so precious when it comes to buying our cars. If we were, we British would still be driving around in Austin Allegros and Morris Marinas.

So let's just run this past you one more time, Sepp old son. It's an open market out there. A country can choose who it likes to be its head coach, and that's been the case for a long time now, so can you please remember that you're supposed to be taking the game forward into a modern era and shut up now?

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