Redknapp is from London and spent a combined 15 years playing for and managing West Ham, a club based in the eastern section of England’s capital. The other teams he’s led — Bournemouth, Portsmouth, and Southampton — are all on the South Coast, also not far from London. This familiarity with the area clearly plays into his willingness to take the job if he gets the chance:
“I’m absolutely flattered that my name is being mentioned about managing the Great Britain team,’ he told the Sunday Mirror yesterday.
‘Would I take it if they offered it to me? Absolutely, I would be a fool not to.
‘I’ve had some great managerial jobs during my career but there is no doubt this would be the icing on the cake.
‘The fact it is being held on my old stamping ground in East London makes it even more appealing.”
As of right now, though, it appears unlikely that a combined team will even be fielded. The Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish FA’s are all opposed to the idea, which puts a huge damper on it seeing as those are three of the four countries that would be involved. There’s no doubt that most of the talent on the team would come from England, but it can’t be given the go-ahead unless those associations give their seals of approval. They feel that it would be a threat to the future of their respective national teams, which obviously operate independently of one another.
England’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, supports the plan:
“I hope there will be a team by 2012. It will be Team UK. I hope we can get an agreement on that.
‘I think when people are looking at the Olympics in 2012 – Britain, home of football, where football was invented, which we gave to the world – I think people would be very surprised if there is an Olympic tournament in football and we are not part of it.
‘I am determined to work with the football associations and the Olympic Committee to ensure that when we come to 2012 we have a men’s football team and we have a women’s football team playing.”
There’s no doubt to me that the UK should have a team. These Olympics are in their backyard. Soccer is the most popular sport in the region, and its main competitors — rugby and cricket — aren’t Olympic events. If some sort of agreement has to be reached saying that Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales each have to be represented on the squad by a certain number of players, then fine. I don’t see why that should be too much of a problem, although as I hinted at before, the best players in Great Britain are English.
Redknapp would be a terrific leader for this team. Other than Martin O’Neill, I don’t think anyone is more of a “player’s manager” than Redknapp. He has the right personality and temperament to unite a multi-national side. He’s going to be 65 in 2012 so he may not have the same enthusiasm as he does now, but something tells me the thrill of playing in his home city would reignite the engines and give him a little pick-me-up, if he even needs one in the first place.
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