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11 times UK newspapers stuck the boot into England bosses

The impossible job

11 times UK newspapers stuck the boot into England bosses
27 September 2016

It's somewhat heartening to know that in these days of instantaneous technological communication, space-age fitness systems and nuanced twenty-first century Opta stats, that the good old 'fake sheikh' newspaper sting operation can still get results.

England manager Sam Allardyce was the latest to be taken in by the lure of easy money, as he was filmed secretly (on a pleasingly lo-res camera) criticising his predecessors Roy Hodgson and Gary Neville, his bosses at the FA for the Wembley project and helpfully telling his potential employers how to get round FA rules on the third-party ownership of players.

And, as news breaks that Sam Allardyce has been sacked as England manager, we take a look back at the uneasy relationship between the tabloid press and the occupier of the most scrutinised role in football. 

1. Steve McClaren

Second-choice Steve was up against it all along in his unsuccessful quest to get England to the 2008 Euros, but just a draw against Croatia at Wembley would still have taken them through. Sadly, on a rain-soaked night, Scott Carson fumbled one in and the Three Lions lost 3-2, with a forlorn McClaren helpless under a truly giant umbrella on the touchline, as magnificently headlined by the Daily Mail. Still, at least he didn't get wet. Every cloud and all that - literally.

2. Graham Taylor

No one compares people to root vegetables quite like the British tabloids, and Graham Taylor got it right in the onions when he led England in their famously hapless - and ultimately, ahem, fruitless - campaign to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. After that famous defeat to the Netherlands, Taylor was left relying on a win against San Marino - something which did not happen without a stutter - and a Netherlands slip-up against Poland. Sadly, the latter didn't happen, and he was forced to accept his turnipy fate in the next day's papers.

3. Sven Goran Eriksson

Big Sam isn't the first England manager to fall for the charms of the 'fake sheikh' as Sven Goran Eriksson fell foul of the famous News Of The World imposter Mazher Mahmood, who approached him to see if he would be prepared to take over as manager of Aston Villa in the event of a takeover of the club. He was also loose-lipped on David Beckham and Michael Owen and claimed that he would leave the England job if he won the World Cup that year (2006). Fortunately, England were so rotten in that tournament that we never found out if he would have kept his word.

4. Glenn Hoddle

In 1999, Glenn Hoddle gave a seemingly innocuous interview to Matt Dickinson of The Times, but controversy soon stirred when people began to notice a passage in which he spoke of his belief in karma, and that people who were disabled were suffering as a result of sins in a past life. Once the other papers got hold of it, there was only ever going to be one outcome, and Hoddle was duly sacked on 2 February. While the views were controversial, they were the same views as those found in religions such as Buddhism, and even Lord Ashley, a disabled rights campaigner, argued that his removal was "a sad day for British tolerance and freedom of speech". Still, out the door he went, with another willing victim ready to replace him.

5. Fabio Capello

Capello enjoyed a torrid time with the English press, who never warmed to him as he maintained his aloof image and struggled to master English. As well as criticism over performances, he also came under fire for his 'Capello Index' which launched shortly before the 2010 World Cup and included ratings for England's players. After a media outcry the England players' scores - with not one player amongst the top 45 in the world - were removed. The team's subsequent shocking performance in the tournament suggested that the index was pretty accurate.

6. Roy Hodgson

Even when the tabloids were nice to Roy, they were nasty, as the Sun's front page announcing his appointment as England boss by mocking his speech impediment was roundly criticised. However, while he was excused from England's usual second round exit in the 2014 World Cup due to his late parachuting into the job, he was afforded no such goodwill from the papers as England crashed out of Euro 2016 by managing to lose to tournament minnows Iceland.

In a final humiliation he was forced to give a press conference by the FA despite having already handed in his resignation. A visibly-irritated Hodgson stated, "I don’t really know what I am doing here... I’m no longer the England manager, my time has gone but I was told it was important that I appear here. I guess that is partly because people are smarting from the defeat last night that saw us leave the tournament. I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows that come with it."

You said it Roy, you said it.