To whom it might concern,
We are in crisis. Established figures from the footballing world have consistently failed to deliver the results England needed, when they were most needed. Our national side has become a laughing stock. Change – real change – is urgently needed. To that end, I offer my candidacy for the position of England first team manager.
I am not experienced in the footballing world (though I won the 2020 Euros on Football Manager with England), but I suggest this might be a good thing. I bring with me no preconceptions, and none of the entitlement that goes with being part of the ‘establishment’. Instead, I am a clean slate, as it were, and a clean slate is what we need.
We have watched as the Spanish and the Germans have redeveloped their game at grassroots level, and it has yielded them incredible results, yet we refuse to anything similar. Instead of dithering, we need to act – clubs must be prepared to absorb short-term pain for long-term success (and a firm system for developing young English players will ultimately benefit our clubs too). It is incomprehensible to me that we would continue to try the same failed ideas and expect different results – that is the very definition of stupidity.
We must build our platform, accepting there will be problems, especially early on, but not getting disheartened by them. With a nucleus of young and skilful players like Alli, Dier, Kane and Rose (not to mention Sturridge, Lallana, Sterling and Rashford), we may yet go somewhere, but we lack meaningful depth. We rely on the reputation of certain players more than we do form. This needs to change. The work to change the very structure of our game has to start now. Clubs – right across the leagues – need incentives to develop English players and get them playing regularly. Money needs to stop being the key driving force of our clubs.
Clubs may not like it, but the Football Association is the final authority on the sport and needs to wield that authority. As manager, I would back such moves and expect the same support in return.
Player egos need to brought under control. I will not pick anyone on the basis of reputation. I will not tolerate anyone thinking they are bigger than the team. Representing the nation and wearing the Three Lions should be a matter of pride and honour. Giving 100% in every game should be a given. If a player – any player – expects to be given an England shirt because they are somehow entitled to it, they will swiftly find themselves out of the squad. If they fail to perform for their clubs, or behave in a manner unbecoming the shirt (for club or country) they will be dropped.
There will be no club cliques when representing England. If this means enforced seating plans at meetings and meals then so be it. If the players don’t like it, they can go home. As I said before, there is no room for egos.
At major tournaments, players will spend a night at the same hotel as travelling fans. They will learn how much it costs to follow England, and the experience of being a supporter. They will see what it means to the fans, who earn but a fraction of what footballers earn, and yet devote it to following their country. They will experience this up close.
They will not be paid to represent England. This notion is abhorrent. They should be playing for the fans and the shirt. Any fees they might otherwise earn will go to charities of their choice. Goal and clean sheet bonuses will likewise go to charity. They will play knowing if they play well it will benefit not only the fans, but people in genuine need.
These changes in attitude are the first steps. Obviously I don’t actually expect to get the job, but I honestly believe these changes in attitude will teach players a bit of much-needed humility and respect. It will teach them togetherness and pride. We need that, more than ever.