The choice for England's next football manager is obvious - You
It's the same old story, again and again and again.
England appoint a safe choice as England manager, who immediately curbs all enthusiasm and preaches patience. He presides over a largely faultless yet incredibly uninspiring qualification campaign, only to underwhelm and disappoint at a major international tournament. Certain players remain undroppable whilst others are played out of position. Meanwhile the media builds the whole squad up with the sole intention of knocking them down one-by-one in the most savage way possible. Rinse and repeat.
Many names have been banded about to replace Roy Hodgson in one of the most well-remunerated but least enviable jobs in world football. There's the has-beens - Hoddle, Redknapp and Allardyce; the foreign contingent - Klinsmann, Wenger and Bilic; and of course the no-where-near-good-enoughs-but-hey-they're-English - Pardew, Southgate and Howe. But perhaps we need to be a little more creative about how we look at today's England and the national team it truly deserves.
The modern phenomenon of 'Team England' is quite separate from the actual sport of football. Indeed, many find it to be an annoying distraction from the real business of club fortunes. The average supporter's allegiances are mainly local and tribal, rather than collective and national. The hype around the national side is as much fuelled by the casual biennial fan than anyone else. Ford Focus man and Tesco mum, rather than season ticket holders at United or City or Liverpool.
So perhaps it is time to cater to these particular tastes and needs. Maybe the England team and how it is managed should be a little less matchday fanzine and a bit more Heat magazine. Consider - if you will - 'England Expects' - a Saturday night show in which you (or more likely your parents and your nan) help choose the England squad via the red button and a premium rate phone number.
The key elements of the sure-fire ratings winner would follow similar lines to any of telly's main talent shows - only with even less talent to choose from. Ant and Dec would make obvious hosts, and there'd be more flashing neon and indoor fireworks than an evening with Mario Balotelli. Each week, footballers would be made to compete with each other for a berth in the squad, with the fans/viewers ultimately acting as a collective manager.
Seeing as English players rarely perform half as well for England as they do for their respective clubs, their selection would have little to do with domestic form. Instead the likes of Rooney, Cahill, Sterling and Dier would have to undertake a medley of Saturday night tests. There could be a round devoted to each popular show. Imagine a petrified Rashford trying to impress a Take Me Out style semi-circle of lecherous bottle-tanned women, or Wilshere negotiating a Ninja Warrior assault course with a soggy roll-up hanging off his bottom lip. It would be glorious.
For an added element of showbiz, all those 'celebrities' who take their participation in Soccer Aid games far too seriously could be thrown into the mix for good measure. So you'd have Made in Chelsea stars competing with professional footballers from Stamford Bridge, and Jonathan Wilkes proudly tugging on his captain's armband and puffing out his chest for non-delusional reasons for once. Imagine the look on Sergio Ramos' face when confronted with Serge from Kasabian.
Of course there would be ample opportunity for footballers to experience an emotional 'journey' over a period of weeks. Westlife could softly play in the background whilst Vardy opens up about how tough life was in lower league football and multicultural casinos. Kane's grandma would melt hearts with tales of how young Harry always dreamt of one day taking corners for his country. And of course there'd be teary farewells, as Ant (or Dec) puts his arm around Theo Walcott whilst they desperately search for a best bit.
The obvious downside to such a plan is the lack of a managerial scapegoat, seeing as that would essentially be us. But it doesn't mean we couldn't have a stooge to just stand on the touchline and shout a lot. It's pretty obvious that the modern football manager's 'passion' and 'drive' is exactly proportional to how much they get up off their seat and jump around, so we could just select the most physically animated option - be that Stuart Pearce, Alan Pardew or professional sweatbox Lee Evans.
In any case, the footballers are and always will be our favourite fall-guys. The best bit about England being eliminated from a major tournament is the vilification and character assassination that follows. Any player who so much as smiles on a city break or buys their mum a sink deserves to be crucified. This could easily be incorporated into a prospective show. Instead of answering a, b or c to win £15,000 and Land Rover, viewers could win the chance to beat the shit out of their chosen victim with a sock full of metal ball bearings. What fun!
Would all this result in better performances in World Cups and European Championships? Who is to know? Probably not. But hey, if recent events have taught us anything, it's that the concept of 'Weeell, it can't get any worse!' is absolutely faultless and doesn't ever result in dire consequences that decimate national institutions. Besides, if nothing else, the selection process would far more entertaining that the football ever is.