Some people were just born to manage England, albeit with the right name and at the right time, says Harry Pearson

Walter, Alf, Don, Joe, Ron, Bobby, Graham, Terry, Glenn, Howard, Kev­in.When studying this list of of the forenames of England’s managers it quickly becomes apparent that since the mid-Seventies the FA have got things hopelessly wrong. The departure of Don Revie and the brief interregnum of Joe Mercer should clearly have been followed by a more modern sounding manager, one whose name reeked not of linament and toad-in-the-hole, but of frothy coffee and formica, a Tony, perhaps, an Alan or even a Brian. Instead the FA went backwards and opted for Ron Greenwood.

The departure of Terry Venables (who might reasonably have been expected to have followed Tony or Brian, unless of course he had been elbowed out of the way by a Roy or a Dougie) led to wholesale alarm at Lancaster Gate as the newly installed modernisers desperately sought to catch up with trends in nomenclature. Alas, they panicked and went too far too soon, failing to see that continuity demanded that a Glenn or Trevor must be preceded by Steve or a Colin. 

The appointment of Kevin Keegan is in some ways a backward step (plainly the Glenn-Kevin sequence should have been reversed) but it at least shows that the FA is learning from its mistakes and attempting to rebuild from a sound base.XHopefully in future we will not see the reckless appointment of a Liam or Brandon before we have had a Gary, a Lee or a Chris.

From WSC 146 April 1999. What was happening this month

Related articles

Bobby Robson film offers smiles, tears and plenty of fond memories
Embed from Getty Images // Watching the elegantly put together More Than A Manager highlights why Robson was so revered by fans, players and...
Graham Taylor: In his own words
Peloton Publishing, £18.99Reviewed by David HarrisonFrom WSC 375, April 2018Buy the book The untimely loss of Graham Taylor in January 2017...
Alan Ball: The man in the white boots by David Tossell
Hodder & Stoughton, £20Reviewed by Mark O’BrienFrom WSC 374, March 2018Buy the book Early on in this detailed and warm biography...

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday