Darren Lewis: English pundits want to get off the sofa, but do the FA want to involve them?
The Mirror football writer says ex-players are in the studio to put themselves in the shop window and get back into the game, rather than avoid it
Alan Shearer will have been left scratching his head.
The former England and Newcastle captain, and the Premier League’s record goalscorer, has put his money where his mouth is as far as England is concerned.
On punditry duty for the BBC during the European Championships last month, Shearer told the nation on live TV that he wanted to speak to the FA about succeeding Roy Hodgson.
In terms of getting off the sofa and getting on board with the Football Association you can’t get much more up front than that.
Yet this week, up at St. George’s Park, the FA chief executive Martin Glenn accused the country’s ex-England players of taking the soft option and preferring TV punditry.
The comments will have stuck in the craw for Shearer in particular as last month’s public plea was the second time that he’d made contact with the FA.
"I went to see the FA four or five years ago and I said, 'I want it, I'll have that job’.” he said.
"They looked at me and said, 'No, it's a lack of experience'. And I said, 'You've hired experienced guys, you've paid them an absolute fortune, I could not have done any worse than those guys’.
"I'd definitely speak to them [again], absolutely. I would offer my experience and tournament experience.”
Being on Twitter, Shearer will have fully expected the derision that came subsequently as his critics reminded him of his ill-fated two-month spell in charge of relegated Newcastle in 2009.
They’ll have conveniently forgotten the fact that Chris Coleman’s record hardly bore comparison to Pep Guardiola’s but the Welshman was able to take his country to the semi-finals of the Euros earlier this month.
The FA could have seized on the chance to bring the former England captain, the Golden Boot winner at Euro ’96, into the set-up with a view to him taking the big job at some stage.
Jurgen Klinsmann had had no management experience at all before he succeeded Rudi Voeller as Germany coach in 2004. What is to say that Shearer could not have used the experience of his 63 caps and three major tournaments to positive effect?
You can accuse the country’s leading pundits of many things but an unwillingness to front up is not one of them.
Glenn cited Match of the Day host Gary Lineker in his comments saying: “I know Gary Lineker quite well and the last thing he would want to do is be a manager. You have to be a bit more creative about how you tap into them.”
Maybe then the onus is on the FA and not the players. Lineker is far from a good example anyway as he is an accomplished broadcaster now in his own right, not just a football pundit.
Those that are have not been shy at all about stepping up to the plate. Rio Ferdinand was another who declared his willingness to succeed Roy Hodgson before Sam Allardyce took over.
Gary Neville had no reason whatsoever to leave the comfort of Sky’s Monday Night Football studio to take over at basket case Valencia last December.
Not only was he already being handsomely paid for one of the best TV jobs in sport - let alone football - Neville’s great success was in blowing apart the antipathy towards him from non-Manchester United fans and establishing himself as one of the most authoritative voices in the game.
He didn’t need coaching. He didn’t need management. And even if he did, nobody would have imagined that Valencia - at the time a club in flux to say the least - would be top of the list given his lack of experience and his lack of Spanish.
Yet still he took it.
He lasted just four months but he’d been prepared to back himself. Gary’s brother Phil had been in Spain embracing a new footballing culture even before he’d arrived.
The Mirror’s Stan Collymore offered to scout and nurture players for Aston Villa and even quit broadcasting if he failed to succeed. Other ex-pros have worked with the FA’s development teams.
Many are on the sofa - or in the studio - as a way of positioning themselves in the shop window to get back into the game. For some it is now a primary living but they too would jump at the chance to be involved again.
Perhaps the FA could do more to embrace them.