Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hunt for England's next national coach - US should be watching

Now that current English coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has admitted that he will be leaving the post after the World Cup, the fury over who will take the reigns next has begun. It is always interesting to watch a national side pick a coach, but what makes this one a little more interesting to me is that, with all odds, America will be doing the same thing around August.

Bruce Arena’s time at the top is probably coming to a close. If the Bruce puts in a good showing at this Cup, European clubs will probably make him some good offers. If he doesn't do so great, US soccer will want to bring in some new blood. Please don't take this as a hit against Bruce, I think he has been great, but things have changed since he took over after the '98 smack down.

When he was hired, he was a small name coach. Yes, he had done some great things at DC United, but he was not really known much outside of the states (just for the records, he had coached 18-years at the University of Virginia and coached the U-23 men during the early to mid 90's, which included the '96 Olympics). Let's face it, the job of US coach in 1998 was not that glamorous of an offering.

Under Bruce the US has blossomed. He has really turned the team around and the world has noticed. If he can show that 2002 was not a one off, he will be in demand. If he doesn't prove that, then he might just be looked at as the person that took the team out of the crapper, but someone else is needed to get them into the fancy dinning room (does that analogy work?).

Anyway, enough about the post-Arena world, we will deal with that later. Here are the five coaches The Guardian newspaper of London says are in the running to replace Sven (along with the odds the paper gives on them getting the job).

Steve McClaren
Possibility: 7/10 Odds: 5-2

Martin O'Neill
Possibility: 7/10 Odds: 10-1

Sam Allardyce
Possibility: 5/10 Odds: 11-2

Guus Hiddink
Possibility: 6/10 Odds: 6-1

Alan Curbishley
Possibility: 3/10 Odds: 11-2

After getting Holland ('98) and South Korea ('02) to the semis and guiding Australia to their first Cup since the 70's, I get the feeling Guss Hiddink is on everyone's short list for national coach. Russia has shown an interest, but I wonder if he would go for England. He seems to like to take teams that are so-so and make them into something. Say what you will about England, but their team is not a 'so-so' team.


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