Let’s have a look at the latest front-runners to be the next England manager, shall we?
Why now? Well, for one thing, Gareth Southgate has pissed us off and we’re lashing out. Also a bit because the list is pure mental and wide open with no obvious clear favourite and the fact nobody quite knows when exactly the job might become available adding to the fun. It’s certainly a very different list to the last time we did this just after England got knocked out of the World Cup and Southgate thought about leaving which, in hindsight, might have been for the best. The top 10 in the betting back then contained Arsene Wenger and Wayne Rooney. And Frank Lampard. Mauricio Pochettino was favourite. Cheeseburgers were a penny. The internet was black and white. It was a different time.
Anyway, here’s the current top 10 based on best available odds…
1) Graham Potter
Fifth favourite in December but favourite now, despite things looking more likely for him then than now really. Is a very flaky favourite in a very open market but does currently have ‘availability’ on his side, were the job to come up soon. Which it probably won’t. By far the likeliest scenario is that this job comes up after England are narrowly beaten following a gallant but vaguely what-might-have-been display in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.
His reputation is undoubtedly tarnished from the Chelsea unpleasantness, but let’s not entirely forget what he started at Brighton. Consistently got them punching above their weight and is a brilliant tactician, while the xG issues that have plagued his teams should be less of an issue with this England team. He’d be making the move from day-to-day coaching very young, though, and there’s an inherent paradox: he’s favourite because he’s available but the longer he remains available the less likely he is to get the job. And if he stops being available, he also becomes less likely to get the job. We don’t think it’s going to be Potter, is what we’re saying here.
2) Lee Carsley
Nowhere near contention in December, but led England’s Under-21s to a brilliant win at the Euros this summer and would represent something like a Continuity Southgate candidate in CV if not necessarily style. Has agreed to stay on as Under-21 coach for the next qualifying campaign and at the very least is therefore in prime position for a caretaker role should Southgate unexpectedly walk before next summer. Seems happy in his work – quite understandably given how well it’s going – and isn’t actively looking elsewhere, but we still reckon he’s more likely to be Ireland’s next permanent manager than England’s.
3) Eddie Howe
Another one that highlights some of the strangeness of the England job, because his current slight struggles at Newcastle only make it more likely he could be in position to replace Southgate at some point over the next year or two. If Newcastle are thriving, it’s hard to see him walking out on that job. But if he does well enough not to trash his reputation but not quite well enough to make Newcastle desperate to keep him or stop them moving on to one of those serial winner coaches they have for clubs who want to make the Next Step, then you could easily see how everyone involved might be quite keen on Eddie Howe, England manager as a concept.
4) Pep Guardiola
England’s tip-top number one choice for after the Euros, apparently. Fair enough, you’d have to say. He’s quite good. Might just decide he’s done all that can be done at Manchester City, but will have a desk full of extremely lucrative offers and might even decide on another sabbatical rather than jumping straight into work as and when he does leave the Etihad. Can easily see why England would desperately want to make this happen, harder to see why Pep would.
5) Steven Gerrard
Great, another manager who’ll pick Jordan Henderson until the seas boil and claim us all. Brilliant. Don’t worry, though. It’s going to be fiendishly hard for Gerrard to salvage a reputation damaged significantly by Villa’s struggles under him and enormous subsequent improvement under Unai Emery, even harder to do so in Saudi Arabia, and almost impossible to do so before the England job comes up. We’re not having this one.
6) Thomas Tuchel
Was reportedly keen when Southgate was considering his options in the winter, and has a genuine affection for English football. He is not, though, a unifying figure. His hold on the Bayern Munich job is shaky, with his tendency to rub players and suits up the wrong way not a brilliant long-term career strategy. Proven ability to coach Harry Kane into scoring lots of goals against mediocre opposition a bonus, but perhaps an unnecessary one. Not sure how much help Kane really needs on that score.
7) Steve Cooper
We like Steve. Doing really quite excellent things now at Forest, and having an Under-17 World Cup win with a squad including Phil Foden, Marc Guehi, Emile Smith Rowe and Jadon Sancho on the CV doesn’t do any harm at all. That international age-group experience coupled with doing an eye-catchingly good Premier League job at a club that won’t really be able to fight too hard for him should England come calling does make this seem pretty feasible. The FA also tend to adopt a “British Isles” definition of home-grown when coming up with “Desirable” qualifications for the job advert, so not even Cooper’s Welshness should harm his chances any.
8) Mauricio Pochettino
Not quite as beguiling or even as likely a prospect as it was in December. And again, it probably requires an amount of club-level failure to make it feasible that by definition makes him less appealing still. And yet. It could still be brilliant. Especially if you feel Gareth Southgate has this group playing with the handbrake not fully released. England absolutely have the players for a Pochettino 4-2-3-1. The age profile of this England squad with all those brilliant younglings would also fit Pochettino’s reputation for moulding and improving young players.
9) Sarina Wiegman
The most successful England coach since 1966 is certainly an intriguing name on the list. But it’s not very likely, is it? For one thing, Wiegman has no experience of coaching in men’s football and while we’re not saying she couldn’t do it if she wanted to it would certainly seem a tall order to leap directly across from national women’s team to national men’s team. There’s also the question of why should she? Is men’s football a step up anyway? It’s a different game, and Wiegman is doing perfectly well where she is, thanks. It doesn’t need any kind of success in men’s football to validate the vast amount she’s achieved in women’s football.
It would be fascinating to see it happen, for sure, but also almost certainly bad and exhausting and full of bad-faith noise from twats. On balance, let’s not do this, yeah?
10) Brendan Rodgers
Spent December pledging fealty to Leicester in a way that made it very, very clear he woud take the England job in a heartbeat. Now back at Celtic after a trying end to his Leicester reign and would still absolutely take the England job in a heartbeat, even if it did mean once again having to give up the delights of having Rangers fans come up to him and thank him for coming to Scotland.
Be good at the England job, too, we reckon. And imagine the Brendanisms we’d get out of it even if he doesn’t manage to end the long wait for tournament success.