England’s New Coach – the runners and riders, the early fallers and the extended metaphors

NearPostFlick steps out into the clearing and sighs. An unforgiving sun beats down as it looks into Pablo’s drunken pig eyes, and at the wine bowl. The wine bowl is nearly empty.

Keep off the wheel, NearPostFlick tells itself. Pablo’s drinking again. Sure. But don’t you get on that wheel now. Wasn’t Radostin Kishishev meant to be drunk during most of one of Charlton’s Premier League seasons? Certainly was. ‘We’re going to have to take a view on the England managerial position eventually, aren’t we, Pablo?’ NearPostFlick sighs.

‘Muy bien’ replies Pablo, as Maria refills the wine bowl.

The Front Runner

Harry Redknapp

You know he’s going to be offered it. Your nan knows he’s going to be offered it. Tibetan monks, gin-soaked Upper West Side lushes and long-dead Joy Division front man Ian Curtis know he’s going to be offered it. But most damagingly, he knows he’s going to be offered it. His recent, amusingly formally-translated interview with L’Equipe makes that clear enough. With his every ‘it is a tough job, I have a good situation here at Tottenham [sic]’, Redknapp is engaging in a coy dance of seduction and rejection with the FA – one which started the day he was acquitted of tax evasion and has continued ever since, dragging on long enough to make Romeo and Juliet look like a fumbled nightclub toilet quickie. He’s undeniably a good manager, though his mishandling of cut-glass egos like Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko somewhat give the lie to the legend that he’s an inspired leader of men, and you might question why he hadn’t been entrusted with a ‘big’ club before his construction of an admittedly intrepid Tottenham side. We’ll leave detailed tactical analysis to people who can make lopsided 4-2-2-2’s work for them in Football Manager; but his recent attempts to reinvent Gareth Bale as a floating trequartista look misguided from where NearPostFlick is sitting, and his teams tend to be slow to react to changing match dynamics. NPF is happy to be proved wrong – and looks forward to our ‘Arry out-thinking Jogi Low with the inspired deployment of Frank Lampard as an enganche this summer – but, somehow, we think we know how this is going to end. When Redknapp inevitably Swayzes into the longing arms of the FA, it’s likely to be the first act in England’s now-customary career-shortening biannual tragi-farce.

The Chasing Pack

Roy Hodgson

Many casual observers think Woy’s got the pedigwee. He could assemble a team based around his fundamental pwinciples – hard work, diwect play and welentless pwessing [that’s enough now] – from his allotment shed in Croydon. He’s probably planted his rhubarb in two banks of four. And in taking a hardly-gifted Swiss side to Euro ’96 (alright, Sforza and Chapuisat were OK) before stepping aside for the majestically-moustached Artur Jorge, he’s proven himself able to work with players of limited ability and transform them into a well-dwilled [sorry] unit. But there are worrying precedents in Roy’s career which count against him. Coaching England isn’t like coaching Switzerland, or Halmstad, or Grasshopper Zurich. It’s worryingly analagous to the jobs he’s failed in – Inter (arguably), Blackburn, Liverpool: a collection of pampered pros with big egos, ossified into a set of destructive habits and in forceful, aggressive denial of their failing abilities. Figures within the game also suggest that Hodgson’s approach to football needs time to bed in; seeing his players for three days a month would make his life nigh-on impossible.

But it’s a moot point as he won’t get it anyway. Moving on…

Jose Mourinho

Brilliant. No, really. Well done, national press, you’ve outdone yourselves here. Yes, £12m p/a could buy the FA an even more graceless way of losing quarter-finals. There might – just might – be a better use for that money. Build another Burton-on-Trent, perhaps. Give every FA staff member a diamond dildo and a subscription to Tatler. We don’t know. Just, not this. Oh, and you’ll note we’re not bothering at all with Pep Guardiola.

Brendan Rogers

Wait. What? No. Sorry. Anyway, he’s Northern Irish and the FA are going through one of their UKIP phases. Flavour of the month coach gets players on British soil to pass to each other shock. He’s good (though he’s built on the work of Paulo Sousa and Roberto Martinez), and persuading Leon Britton to be a bit more like Xavi is no mean feat. But let’s give the man a break and let him develop away from any of English football’s traditional lunatic asylums.

Sven-Goran Eriksson

Don’t laugh. Like you could do a better job.

Dark Horses

Guus Hiddink

NPF likes Guus Hiddink. We call him ‘Orange Guus’, then chuckle to ourselves for a good hour. But tax tax tax tax Sergei Semak tax rubbish with Turkey and didn’t seem to care tax tax tax wants a final big payday tax tax should probably wait for the Anzhi job to come up. Tax.

Black Beauty 

The definitive dark horse. Anna Sewell’s fictional mount has been mentioned in dispatches as a potential England manager, and it’s easy to see why. A thoroughbred reputation as a player at Derby saw him win many admirers; and following his enforced retirement through serious knee injuries, he’s proved an innovative thinker as a coach, displaying an aptitude for making critical tactical adjustments on the hoof. His interpretation of Karl Rappan’s ‘Swiss Bolt’ defensive system, the ‘Fetlock’, has been much imitated but never bettered – however, his historic distaste for Spurs could signal an end to Aaron Lennon’s international dreams were he appointed, and his inability to maintain a stable personal life – coupled with a disconcerting predilection for spending time with young girls – could yet stir up controversy. And, unlike absolutely all the other candidates on this list, really absolutely, unequivocally without exception, Black Beauty also has a reputation for saddling clubs he has managed with unmanageable wage bills, unbalanced playing staffs and first elevens of wildly varying quality before carpetbagging his way elsewhere and leaving his former employer in the lurch.   

Has 'previous' with Luis Suarez.

  

Finally, a lead actor for that gerontophile sequel to ‘Shame’

 In his first article for NearPostFlick, @baconjamie ponders the face to launch a thousand brands.

 

We at NearPostFlick pride ourselves on being first and fastest with all viral sensations. This once led to us contracting a particularly virulent strain of avian flu, so since then we’ve modified our technique, only searching out the finest viral videos on the internet. When we discovered this one it had already been witnessed by over 350,000 people, so unless it has a particularly long gestation period, it’s almost certainly safe to watch. Either that or nobody has noticed that over quarter of a million Man Utd fans have shuffled off this mortal coil.

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6MkmonoaSw
It certainly is something to behold. Something of a young Brando in the way he controls his clearly towering emotions at a time of acute stress. He will no doubt have an acting career waiting for him once he stops not quite fulfilling his early potential on the pitch. He’ll be up there with other sportsmen-cum-actors including Vinnie Jones (standout role: “Big Chris” in Guy Richie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” – 1998), Eric Cantona (standout role: “Eric Cantona” in Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric” – 2009) and Kieron Dyer (standout role: “Kieron Dyer awaiting physio appointment” in Neil Warnock’s “QPR” – 2011).

#DENCH

Modern life has its irritations. Detachment and alienation. Economic uncertainty. Hipsters, dubstep and the later work of Paul Whitehouse. That smell when you walk past Lush shops. Pubs that play loud music. Take Me Out. David Guetta. MRSA.

But NearPostFlick is peculiarly mystified by the media phenomenon that is Emmanuel Yaw Frimpong.

Now please don’t get us wrong. We quite admire the man as a player. Technically neat, with a surprisingly adept quickstep dribble over the first few yards; likeably combative, and puppyishly eager. The sight of him pinballing around a midfield is quite endearing, really, and his injury did struggling Wolves – delighted to secure his galvanising services on loan – few favours. I mean, he’s not Andrea Pirlo, but he’s alright.

So, what’s our problem with the fella? Why can’t we just be happy that the Ghanaian talent factory has churned out a cut-price Stephen Appiah? Well, we suppose it’s the fact that Emmanuel Frimpong is FAMOUS. And far more famous than a player with 11 (eleven!) senior league appearances deserves to be. Quite simply, with his #DENCHING and his #FRIMPONGING he’s turned himself into an online event, a cultish mass happening with the Kumasi Killer cast as a tough-tackling David Koresh. This BOTHERS us. Emmanuel Frimpong has an inverse fame/achievement ratio that would turn Jedward flat-haired with embarrassment.

And yet. A little corner of the Flick’s collective consciousness nags away at us. Perhaps we don’t like Emmanuel Frimpong because we’re not #DENCH ourselves. Perhaps we don’t know what #DENCH means. And we’ll never know what it’s like to be #FRIMPONGED. Is it pleasurable, like a warm bath in double cream? Is it bracing, like a sandpaper massage or energetic intercourse with James Corden? Perhaps we’re jealous that orange women send Emmanuel their BlackBerry Messenger PINs on Twitter. Perhaps we’re just too old to ‘get’ Emmanuel Frimpong.

Or perhaps we’ll forgive him the sideshow, the frippery, the muthafuggin’ RANGE OF BRANDED CLOTHING when he’s got a few more appearances under his belt. We can’t imagine he’ll care either way.

We’d suggest you follow him on Twitter but you probably fucking are already. We certainly are. Stay #DENCH, people.

Dude looks like Skuhravy

Yes, it's not pronounced like that and yes, it's a false pun.

NearPostFlick responds to accusations that its ‘work’ is based entirely on weak paranomasia the only way it knows how. Still, Tomas Skuhravy, eh? Hm. Really just one for Genoa fans and people with fond memories of him at Italia ’90, this. Soz. Still, next week – ‘The Churl with the Flaggin’ Carew – why is Big John being underused by Big Sam?’ Yeah. That’ll work.

Our Favourite Players. 1: Stefano Fiore

‘Stefano Fiore (born April 17, 1975 in Cosenza) is an Italian football manager and former player, who played as an attacking midfielder or on the wing. He is currently in charge as manager technical area of Cosenza[1] in Serie D. ‘

– Wikipedia, March 2012

Indeed, Mr Pedia. ‘In charge as manager technical area’, you say. And perhaps that’s true.

But to us here at Near Post Flick, Stefano Fiore will always be the Dadaist rulebreaker who, when asked what inhuman horrors he would consign to Room 101, replied, ‘Ketchup, mess and the mountains of Russia’. On a bright Belgian morning in June 2000, Stefano Fiore BROKE ART.

He was also a very fine footballer, drifting, elusive and peripheral then thrillingly, gracefully relevant. At Parma, he eased the increasingly static Azzurri fixture Dino Baggio out of the side; in Udine, he fetishised the curling, looping shy at goal that became his calling card at Euro 2000, yet could still slap the leather off it (as this crisp one – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCoweOpUqGE –  against Verona attests ). And now he’s returned to his roots, coaching his home town club down amongst the has-beens and truffle-sniffers of Serie D.

And what’s more, he looks a bit like Nick Cotton from Eastenders. Forza, Stefano. Long may you reign,  in charge as manager technical area.

Stracq Attack. Denis’ Diary, Chapter 1

Sweaty-browed denizen of this parish, one ‘Fingers’ McGraw, happened across some well-thumbed pages of foolscap while going for his traditional morning constitutional/cottaging in Stanley Park. Well blow us all down if it wasn’t the first few pages of Denis Stracqualursi’s diary, breathlessly inked when the Argentine ‘striker’ first arrived in old Blighty. Read on, and we might even continue the series. Or not, as he’s started scoring now. Bastard.

 

30th August 2011

From what brittle matter is the fabric of our lives hewn? To labour long, to toil and gather the bitter ash of disappointment that we might cast it anew in the furnace of transition and forge another life, another future, another warmly glowing door emitting the lembent light and warmth of hope, of frail and failing dawn? The gaffer has sent me on loan to Everton for a year.

They do not have many Spanish-speaking players, but I am sure valiant and true stalwart of the club, Mikel Arteta, will guide me in matters linguistic.

 

31st August 2011

Fuck.

 

2nd September 2011

My new manager has eyed me askance. My faithful translator Ignacio related his first words – that I ‘look like Gigi Buffon was dropped as a child.’ I assume this is an example of the famed English predilection for ‘banter’, an uneasy accommodation between traditional Anglo-Saxon concepts of masculinity and the more enlightened and emotionally articulate world they are now forced to inhabit. In a similar vein, Leon Osman has turded in my copy of Borges’ Ficciones and someone has written ‘FALKLANDS – BRITISH FOREVER’ on my locker in what looks like blood. I suspect Tony Hibbert, as he looks pale and unsteady.

 

3rd September 2011

Training. Apparently Tony Hibbert is always pale and unsteady.

 

7th September 2011

Training, once more. I work hard on reinforcing the muscle memory which permits me to execute my signature moves – runs which in their power and blind fury evoke the Pamplona bull; shots driven with the ferocity of a thousand vented spleens. I expect success. 11 goals in the 2011 Apertura; legend of the Clasico Platense; plunderer of a hat-trick against Boca in the Bombonera just a few short months ago. Look upon my works, ye English, and despair.

Someone called Jagielka keeps tackling me. Fuck my sides. 

New Flicks

Near Post Flick. Where football’s frustrateds carry out thinly-veiled personal hatchet jobs, character assassinations and savagely patronising beatdowns on the game’s big hitters. Oh, and barely-understood half-remembered gobbets of Jonathan Wilson’s articles passed off as tactical insight. Plagiarism FTW. 

‘Flicks an insouciant V at the bean-counters and fills a gash in the football commentariat – frigging well done’ – Claude A. Live, author of “Tigers – East Asia’s Soccer Resurgence”