Although viewed like an England manager obituary throughout, MANAGING ENGLAND: THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB is an enjoyable one-hour special on the history of England managers, beginning with Sir Alf Ramsey and finishing with Gareth Southgate.
With contributions from former England managers and players, this special portrays how difficult the England job can be.
The Impossible Job begins with the England World Cup-winning squad of 1966, who were managed by Sir Ramsey. It shows footage that’ll have any England fan yearning for those days again. It is a brilliant introduction that sets the goal every England manager since then has faced: that of winning the elusive World Cup.
The programme quickly focuses on the relationship between the England manager and the media. The media comes off terribly, and perhaps rightfully so. They are portrayed as piranha waiting for food and then darting for it when something juicy comes along. I was left feeling sympathetic for Sam Allardyce as he climbed into his car outside his house while photographers and reporters swarmed around him.
Every manager’s exit is explained, from Glenn Hoddle’s remarks about disabled people to Kevin Keegan’s inadequacies. No one is ignored.
It's not as brutal as it sounds. Fabio Capello, Sam Allardyce, Sven-Goran Eriksson, and other former England managers are given the chance to talk. They come across as charming and light-hearted, honest and direct. And it is refreshing for them to be portrayed in such a relaxed way, where they can speak their minds.
This is where The Impossible Job exceeds: its ability to show us the human side of the England manager. It seems strange to have to remind anyone, that the manager of any football team is human. For so long, England managers have been treated as though they are without feelings. It became normal to plaster these men all over newspapers, without any regard for them or their families. All it usually took was one mistake to condemn them to front-page news, lambasting them for whatever human mistake they had made, either on or off the pitch.
Throughout The Impossible Job there is an undercurrent of hope that perhaps the current manager, Gareth Southgate, will be able to break this pattern of struggling managers and win the World Cup this summer.
It would be nice to see this, mainly because it would alleviate the pressure on future England managers. Also, Gareth Southgate is a nice guy and it would be a shame to see him treated so poorly by the British media.
Overall, this is a wonderful – albeit brief – look at the history of former England managers and the reasons they failed in their roles. Considering the programme is only one hour, it does a tremendous job in delivering the history of the job. With input from former England players such as Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer, this is a must-see programme for any football fan.
- Watched on BBC Two. 17/06/2018