By Joe Behan
Leicester City was beaten 1-0 by Liverpool on an Emile Heskey goal. Last week, City lost 3-0 to Manchester United. It seems that manager Peter Taylor accepts these results as he takes on the temporary manager job for England.
Taylor took on a job at Leicester and had a tough act to follow after Martin O’Neill and now it is going to be tougher than ever. What is he thinking of? OK, his last two games have been against the top guns, but these were the games that needed his undivided attention.
Taylor is making a big mistake taking on the English job, regardless of future success. Leicester, the club, is obviously behind their manager, which comes as a surprise. City need every possible moment for their manager to be there. It will hurt them if he is not; it already has. Nonetheless, England plays Italy in Turin on Nov. 15 and Taylor is delighted with the honor.
What comes as even more of a "What do I know about the game?" is that Steve McClaren will join Taylor at the helm. Alex Ferguson and Man. Utd. are supporting that, so one should not dare question at least this appointment. McClaren, after all, works with the flare of the English side at his club. What makes McClaren’s appointment even more interesting is Teddy Sheringham’s form this season.
Who is next?
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The FA were seemingly landed in a shock situation with Kevin Keegan’s fast exit from the job, but with the way Keegan’s soccer trail has meandered and, of course, some hindsight, was it unexpected?
The superstar probably did the FA a favor, as he knew things were going downhill. Now the FA is chasing temporary employees or, even worse, caretaker managers.
It’s looks like an excuse. The chief executive, Adam Crozier, has ruled out the likelihood of Taylor taking over as permanent manager, but, rather, he will be part of a team. The FA have a few coaches who are in line for talks about a full-time position. Crozier says that level of commitment is required for the job.
Crozier is believed to be meeting with Sven Goran Eriksson, Lazio, Arsene Wenger and Roy Hodgson this week in a bid to name the next full-time England coach within a month. Taylor and McClaren, along with former Blackburn boss Brian Kidd and possibly Charlton’s Alan Curbishley and Aston Villa’s John Gregory, will form a new coaching pool to work with Keegan’s long-term successor.
English football off track
Newcastle refused the FA permission to speak to Bobby Robson about taking temporary charge. Robson doesn’t need it anyway; he has to figure out how he let Gazza run the show in his 1-0 defeat against Everton. Terry Veneables has ruled himself out. The English national scene is in turmoil at the minute and with its neighboring countries doing so well, we must be careful not to knock and compare. We must remember that we have benefited from the good old EPL game. It is important for English football to get back on the right track — very important.
There is a great interest in soccer back home and once the masses are interested great players and great teams will be produced. As the Irish team consists of players that play in the premier, there is somewhat of gap for domestic footballers to make the national side.
It’s always a good feeling when one of our own Eircom League professionals or indeed any domestic footballer makes the international scene. There is quite a big premier squad available to Mick McCarthy and the wearing of the green shirt these days is not happening for the locals. Of course, we must not forget the Irishman playing in Italy.
The soccer pundit at home, for the most of it, follows the premier. There is a rake of Man. Utd. supporters. Liverpool are really big and there a good few Chelsea and Leeds fans. Yes, supporters go across the water, and there was talk of Wimbledon coming to Ireland, but it is the TV coverage that sparks the dream to be a player.
Many a premiership club jersey can be seen worn around the counties of Ireland. In fact, the Irish are not far off being fanatical about the game. Hours and hours are discussed about the game. A favorite topic is the standard of the Eircom league, which is indirectly measured against the EPL, probably one of the best in the world. But things are changing rapidly as we enter the new millennium.
Benefits of expansion
The most significant change in the game is just how big the Champions League has become. There are preparations for European leagues in progress. The small clubs know that they are too far behind the big guns and this was the same once upon a time on the international scene. The many small changes may well lead into the game evolving and, hopefully, not destruction.
One way or another there’s loads of stuff for the pundit to talk about, but what they will be talking about may come as a surprise real soon and real fast – that’s because travel expansion on the club level shortens the gap on the international scene. We are seeing this already, especially back home.
The English national team is getting a roasting right now from its neighboring countries. World Cup results have favored the two Irish teams and Scotland, the smaller soccer powers. There is another change, though, in the soccer world over there and there is a huge support in Ireland for it. Celtic is at the minute a big hit with Martin O’Neill, as his side is unbeaten in the SPL.
There is a down-to-earth soccer connection between these small countries back home and it gets more and more interesting in the new millennium. Of course, we want to see our own domestic leagues in Ireland and elsewhere improve, and they are, and it’s happening on the strength of the English game, thanks to the premier league.