Early Doors

Ten top contenders for the England U21 job

Early Doors

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Early Doors was left in a state of shock yesterday after learning that Joe Kinnear’s rambling media appearances and bizarre claims to be Newcastle’s next director of football were not inspired by some piece of Joaquin Phoenix-esque performance art, but were in fact the truth.

It is quite astonishing that such a nonsensical executive appointment can be made in a league which is a global marketing phenomenon and a multi-billion pound industry, but Kinnear’s elevation to such a position of power at St James’ Park demonstrates that while amateurism in football was essentially killed off over a century ago, vestiges of it still remain.

Apropos of very little, on Tuesday evening it was confirmed that Stuart Pearce will not have his contract renewed as Under-21 manager, meaning it is now the turn of the Football Association to make an appointment of their own.

ED can only hope that the suits at Wembley follow in Mike Ashley’s footsteps and make a completely bemusing appointment.

With that in mind, we produced a quick guide to some eye-catching candidates who – if Kinnear can become director of football at Newcastle – might as well be on the shortlist for the Under-21 job.

1. Michael Gove

Who better to entrust with the future of England’s young footballers than the man entrusted with the education of the nation’s children. No matter that in April the rubber-faced Tory was given the first ever vote of no confidence from the National Union of Teachers – when did being vastly unpopular with your constituent base ever matter, eh Joe?

2. Calvin Harris

The techno producer’s beats and hooks underpin many of the pop songs beloved of the youth of today (is that the correct terminology? - ED’s ed). His Scottishness is a mark against him in this particular role but replacing shouty team talks with inspirational and rousing DJ sets could be an altogether more holistic approach to tournament football.

3. Tony Pulis

Currently unemployed and, if reports are to believed, coveted by Athletic Bilbao as they seek a replacement for hipster wet dream Marcelo Bielsa, Pulis represents the very best of football. His free-flowing, artistic interpretation of the game brought fans to Stoke in their droves and Pulis could be the man to finally cure England’s knee-jerk reversion to panicked long-ball football. It would be fascinating to see if his cultured approach could fundamentally change the nature of English football.

4. Jo Frost

Disciple of the ‘Naughty Step’, the Supernanny rules with an iron fist and her no-nonsense approach is sure to knock England’s underperforming kids into shape. The Fergie of the nanny profession, she’d never put up with a sub-par performance against Norway.

5. Nigel Farage

A controversial figure, yes, but at least with the UKIP leader at least you know you’ll get someone who knows how to stand up to European competition. Plus, embarrassingly overt patriotism has never been a barrier to FA appointments in the past.

6. Michael Owen

Surely football can’t afford to lose this charismatic and inspiring figure to the wasteland of horse racing? The FA must dispatch their top man (you'll have to remind ED who that is now David Bernstein’s on the way out) to get Owen to stay in the game and give England’s young players the same invaluable insights he has been dispensing to his followers on Twitter. Such as which chocolate bars are the best. Owen, the deviant, claims Picnics and Topics. Patent nonsense.

7. Nick Grimshaw

Radio One saw the huge potential in the DJ when booting out Chris Moyles and appointing Grimshaw to the station’s world famous breakfast show. His ability to connect with a young audience was critical to his meteoric rise and, with his extensive contacts in London’s A-list, he’d be the perfect man to organise a boozy celebration at one of the capital’s most exclusive nightspots.

8. Alan Sugar

Who better to knock some sense into a gang of young, aspirational, ego-driven narcissists than Lord Sugar? “Andros, you let yourself down with that ridiculous pre-tournament betting scandal. You’re fired.”

9. A Random Soldier

If you aren't already aware, the FA loves soldiers. Every time you go to Wembley the place is full of them (unless Ireland are playing) and only recently Stuart Pearce managed a team of soldiers against an FA legends XI, coached by Roy Hodgson, so the links are already in place. Plus, employing someone from the services might help coax the much-missed John Terry back to national service. Remember, he once said of the armed forces: "They love their football, they like to look up to us but I would like to be in their shoes and do what they do. It's great they want to do that and they are brilliant at their job. I would love to [serve], of course. Put your life on the line for the country – I would love to, but I don't think many of us could."

10. Glenn Hoddle

No longer suffering for sins committed in a previous job, Hoddle appears to be back in vogue 14 years after his shocking comments regarding disabled people and karma cost him the senior England job. Hoddle’s main credential for the Under-21 role appears to be his ability to speak in coherent sentences about the team's failings in Israel in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports.

By Simon Borg

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Talking about Mario is difficult because you never know what he might do from one day to the next. I think he is strongly motivated by wearing the Azzurri shirt and he has found a group of players here who have won a lot and want to win a lot more. That helps him grow. We have said for years that he has great potential and our task is to let him fulfil that and we need to contribute to that and help him as well." Italy coach Cesare Prandelli on the mercurial Mario Balotelli, who appears to be maturing over in Brazil. Although let's not speak too soon.

FOREIGN VIEW: Spain tightened their grip on international football with a 4-2 victory over Italy in the final of the European Under-21 Championship in Israel last night. Thiago bagged a hat-trick in a sensational display from the Barcelona playmaker, with Isco also on target. The win means Spain have now won senior titles in 2008 and 2012, Under-21 titles in 2011 and 2013 and Under-19 titles in 2011 and 2012. That’s what total and utter dominance looks like.

COMING UP: The Confederations Cup continues as Brazil take on Mexico (11pm) amid some turmoil in the streets, while Italy face Japan in the late game (1am). Eurobot will also be popping in at 12.30pm to hold his latest transfer chat. In terms of blogs, we bring out the big guns with Andy Mitten and Jim White both filing in the afternoon.

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