Next England manager: Gary Neville or Alan Pardew the better bet?


Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | Updated September 28, 2016

The line of succession to Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce’s throne just got a lot more interesting. Since Coral first published this piece, there have been major developments regarding who will be the next England manager, so check out the latest.

Passing on the proverbial poisoned chalice that every England boss must drink from is inevitable, but to which of two outstanding candidates?

What Neville’s Mestalla move means

Gary Neville is finally sticking his neck out, emerging from the Sky Sports studios to begin his managerial career at Valencia.

A joint business venture at Salford City, whose name will be in the FA Cup third round draw, with wealthy Bats benefactor Peter Lim is how the cynical commentators and a substantial section of Los Che’s support see the appointment of Neville.

Earning 85 Three Lions caps, Manchester United right back legend Neville initially just has five months to prove his day-to-day coaching credentials, having served his country part-time under Hodgson – conveniently when Sky Sports aren’t showing any elite club football.

While Hodgson has welcomed Neville’s Mestalla move ahead of this pair working together at Euro 2016, Coral offer an odds-on price of 4/7 that the England incumbent is not in his job at the end of next year.

Hodgson will enjoy the rare luxury of three major international tournaments in charge; let’s not forget at the previous two the Three Lions have underwhelmed. Should the Euro 2016 draw be unfavourable and another early exit beckons, then the FA will surely make a change.

So, while there are a lot ifs, buts and maybes, both for Hodgson and his apprentice at Valencia over the next six months; Neville is a 6/1 shot to succeed him as England boss.

Pardew a popular alternative

Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew is the other name bandied about in the press when there is talk of the Three Lions’ future. He has made overtures aplenty in recent times about his ambitions.

When asked if he was a leading contender for the England role in his latest interview on this matter, Pardew said: “I don’t know about ‘the favourite’ but it’s a job I have specific views on.”

He would not expect to get more than two years in charge, however, and Pardew thinks coaches should get just one qualifying campaign and tournament in the post.

“If you have one of the biggest jobs in the world, which England manager is, you take it for one tournament,” he continued. “If you don’t succeed, it’s over.

“I might be misguided but if Roy doesn’t do well at the Euros, they should move him on, give it to somebody and say: ‘Here’s your tournament, win it’.

“To give yourself the best chance the manager should be tournament by tournament. You’re not building anything, you’re picking an instant best team to win a championship. How long have you got to work with them? Three training days every three months?”

Inside out

It’s not the first time Pardew has been mentioned in connection with taking on the Three Lions either. During his days at West Ham United when he steered them to the 2006 FA Cup final, he was an outside shout to take over from Sven-Goran Eriksson following the World Cup in Germany.

Back then Pardew, Sam Allardyce and others were passed over by the FA for Steve McClaren – a man already inside the England setup. Could history repeat itself once Hodgson’s spell ends?

Neville is certainly in a better position by being in the backroom, but has more to lose. There will be expectations placed upon him at Valencia – both by fans and Asian investor Lim.

Los Che are one of only a small handful of sides to have laid down the gauntlet to El Clasico couple Real Madrid and Barcelona in modern times by winning La Liga twice under Rafa Benitez.

As the Bats fanbase perceive their club to be a top four team, or at least regulars in Europe so, although Neville is aware of the pressures that come with the territory, this is a job that has little longevity in it.

Premier League coaching successes Claudio Ranieri (in his second Mestalla coming) and Ronald Koeman both got less than a season in charge of Valencia. Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, meanwhile, had over two years to try and match Benitez’s brilliance yet found it elusive.

Current clubs are very different

Couple this with the fact that Neville is the sixth permanent managerial appointment by Los Che since the summer of 2012, and all signs point to the fact his impact must be telling and almost immediate.

If it came to a choice between England and Manchester United – the only club Neville has ever known – there might also be a danger of him putting the Red Devils before his country.

There could be too many imponderables about touting Neville as next England manager, then, though his coaching career should certainly be watched with interest by the hierarchies at Old Trafford and in Soho Square.

Pardew, meanwhile, has Palace punching above their weight in and around the Premier League’s top six – a position they could conceivably maintain if chairman Steve Parish can inject the reject pledge of American investment into recruitment.

An Eagles hero, who famously scored the extra-time winner from midfield in that 1990 FA Cup semi-final 4-3 win, Pardew’s success ratio in the Selhurst Park dugout is already more than 50 per cent from less than 40 matches in charge.

It looks a good fit (in stark contrast to the unhappy marriage at Newcastle United in Pardew’s previous post), then, but there is his England ambition to factor in.

Approaches to England

All but nine of Palace’s first-team squad were born in the British Isles, which is evidence that relative success can be brought about through the homegrown route.

He’s an FA outsider, however, and lacks the profile of top-level success that Neville enjoyed as a player. Where Pardew does have an advantage, though, is when it comes to experience.

While Neville continues to cut his coaching teeth in Spain, Pardew has 15 years behind him. There is also common ground between these candidates – both are forthright in their views.

At his official unveiling as Valencia boss, Neville set out his stall. “I’m not going to shy away from the very direct approach I had on television,” he said, and that boldness could be both a blessing and a curse.

Diplomacy is another attribute necessary if an England manager is to last. Outspoken comments – ones falling well short of the infamous extent Glenn Hoddle went to – will land the man in the hotseat in trouble.

Open and honest didn’t work for Kevin Keegan – even if it’s refreshing to see from the fans’ perspective – so when Hodgson steps down, the Three Lions face yet another future crossroads.


Check out Coral’s England archive, which covers the national teams of all sports.

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