How To Be England Manager

by nickupton

In England being the England Football Manager puts you on par with the Prime Minister and God; only the Queen has seniority. Here is a step-by-step guide to being England Manager.

All England fans know how to manage the England football team. Just go to any English pub during an international football tournament and you will find any number of experts on the matter. With this overabundance of expertise it is incredible that England have not won a football tournament since 1966.

This page is a tongue-in-cheek step-by-step guide to being England Manager. No offence to any past or present England managers is meant, but I am sure that England fans will recognize references to past managers here.

I hope you have fun reading the guide to being England Manager.

Step 1: How To Become England Manager

It is essential for there to be a huge amount of controversy over your appointment as England Manager. The English Football Association never appoint a Manager that has popular appeal and without something controversial about you, the F.A. will immediately strike you off their shortlist (the list has to be short as so few decent football coaches actually want the job).

To ensure that you have the correct level of controversy surrounding you in order to be appointed England Manager you should ideally be able to list at least one of the following on your C.V.

  • To have played football at only the lowliest levels. England Managers who have played international football themselves are usually unsuccessful and are shunned by the F.A. In order to be considered and to get the public arguing you would have ideally only ever been involved in playground matches.
  • If you should have played international football, ensure that you were involved in some sort of disasterous event such as missing the key penalty in a shoot-out or missing an open goal due to the size of your perm.
  • Be incomprehensible. Either develop a ridiculous lisp, ramble on endlessly about your faith healer/medium, speak in a stereotypical foreign accent or use only words of one syllable. This will really get them arguing about your ability to deal with the media and communicate with the players.
  • Have made a fool of yourself singing on a chat show two decades beforehand (see video on the right).
  • Be a foreigner. All Englishmen know that only another Englishman can really understand what it means to watch England fail at another World Cup. Nobody wants Johnny Foreigner messing up our team of heroes, we are perfectly capable of doing that ourselves. If you are unfortunate enough to hold a British passport don't worry, countries like Montenegro or Tonga will give you a passport for a liberal backhander.
  • To have managed only "nearly" teams - have only achieved runner up status with an unfashionable club or thrown away the league in the last few matches of the season. If you have ambitions of being England Manager it is a definite advantage to have not been a consistently successful club manager in the English league. You may have won titles in obscure European leagues or cup competitions in countries like Italy or France but under no circumstances have an impressive list of English league and cup honours as a manager under your belt. There will be other candidates who have won things but these guys are your lever into the job. They are the ones the media will talk about while you sneak in unnoticed through the back door.
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Step 2: How To Behave On Your First Day As England Manager

You are the new boy, so keep your head down and don't get noticed. No playing silly pranks or contradicting the "old boys" and certainly don't come back late from lunch. Just do what all the other England Managers before you have done.

Don't lose your temper
  • Hold a press conference saying how happy you are to have been the F.A.'s choice as the new England Manager, even though you know that you were the fourth or fifth choice and that other, far better, candidates had either not wanted to touch the job with a barge pole or been struck off the list due to pending court cases or being involved in sex scandals.
  • Do not lose your temper with the players on the first day. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Step 3: How To Choose Your First Opponents

Nobody wants to get off to a bad start so you must choose your first opponents well. There are basically three different strategies you should choose from here.

Strategy A

Arrange a friendly with either the current World Champions or Brazil; they will usually be one and the same thing anyway. This way England will very much be the underdogs and nobody will expect a win. The opposition will probably be fairly disinterested so it should be easy to get a draw or a narrow loss and you can then talk to the media about how the boys played their hearts out and how they can only improve in the future.

Strategy B

Play an African team at a venue in northern England in the middle of the British winter. Everybody likes the colour and carnival the Africans bring along with them and even their dreadful Vuvuzelas will be tolerated as they will bring some life to whatever godforsaken subarctic city the game is played in.

Although African teams are always just about to make a breakthrough in international football, they never do, so even if they are able to function in the freezing conditions they will eventually chop someone down close to goal to give away a penalty or score some sort of comedy own goal.

Strategy C

Play a team of total no-hopers so that you can get your first win. Be careful here, you must pick a team that you know you can thrash. Sides such as Palestine, San Marino and Laos have all been known to produce shock results. Fledgling nations such as South Sudan, East Timor or Kosovo are in enough of a shambles not to be able to put out an organized team.

After slaughtering these minnows of world football you can tell the waiting media that it was nice to get your first victory, as England Manager, under your belt before uttering some platitudes to the effect of it being a privilege to bring countries like this into the footballing brotherhood.

Above: Zaire - the clowns of the World Cup. This is the sort of team you should be playing.

Above: Try to arrange a game against American Samoa to rack up a high score.

Step 4: How To Pick Your Team

It is a long understood tradition in English football that the England national team will always be less than the sum of its parts and fail miserably or heroically (failing nonetheless) in international competitions. Respect this cultural convention by adhering to the following points.

  • Choose the same old players who have consistently under-performed regardless of who the manager has been. 80+ international caps and only a handful of acceptable performances? Just pick them again and hope that they will do better next time.
  • Disregard current form. Choose the same old striker who hasn't scored since his wedding day over the guy who has scored 30 goals already this season. Make sure you meet the media and waffle on about form being temporary but class being permanent. Never mind that the game is tomorrow not next season.
  • Under no circumstances pick players who are impressive in the league but with unfashionable clubs. 
  • Never pick the players to fit the positions that your strategy requires. Simply pick what you think are the eleven best players and somehow fit them into a system that you have cobbled together to accommodate them.
  • Ask players to play in positions they are not used to.
  • Although you will always stick with your core of consistent under-performers, select an ever-increasing army of fringe players, giving them one or two caps before discarding them for the next guy. Get an Act of Parliament passed which requires all able-bodied males to do national service in the England team for at least one game.
  • Always have an open mind to suggestions on who to pick. This commentator says "Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Lady Diana, Maggie Thatcher ... your boys took one hell of a beating."  If the manager had thought creatively he would have used this suggestion and put those names down on the team sheet for the next game. Don't make the same mistake - listen to others.
Top five England Goalkeepers of all time

Best England Keeper - My Top 5 England keepers. - My top five England goalkeepers of all time and why I have chosen them.

Step 5: How To Choose Your Tactics

This is where football management becomes fun. There are so many tactical permutations available that you can really let your imagination run wild. The following is a fool-proof guide to tactics and footballing strategy for an England Manager.

  • Prepare a set of flashcards depicting tactical diagrams with players names and arrows criss-crossing all over it. Add some mathematical equations for effect; these will confuse the players, but they will be confused whatever you say after all they have an average IQ of 30, the real benefit of the flashcards is with the media who will proclaim you a tactical genius.
  • Experiment with "systems". You can use friendly international matches to try out a variety of modern footballing systems; 3-5-2, 2-2-1-2-3, 4-1-3-2 or any other combination of numbers that add up to 10 that you can think of.
  • Whatever "systems" you have toyed with always revert to the old-fashioned 4-4-2 for international competitions. The media, the fans and the players will be disappointed if you do not and not doing so may lead to a sacking.
Old-fashioned tactics suit English players
  • Dispense with having any system at all, if you are going to lose all the time why waste time with systems? Just pick 11 random players and stick them in random positions, never playing the same player in the same place twice; sheer probability defines that at some point they will all play well at the same time. For those games in which they don't you will have to get used to being dumped out of tournaments by the likes of Burkina Faso leaving fans longing for the heady days of losing in a penalty shoot-out.
  • Always include at least one "beanpole" (unusually tall player) in the squad so that when your tactics fail you can bring him on for the last 20 minutes of every game and have the other players boot the ball aimlessly up to him in the hope that his height will allow him to head the ball in. Part of English footballing tradition dictates that this tall player should not actually be very good at heading the ball.

List Of England Football Managers

  1. Walter Winterbottom - 1946-63
  2. Alf Ramsey - 1963-74
  3. Joe Mercer - 1974
  4. Don Revie - 1974-77
  5. Ron Greenwood - 1977-82
  6. Bobby Robson - 1982-90
  7. Graham Taylor - 1990-93
  8. Terry Venables - 1994-96
  9. Glenn Hoddle - 1996-99
  10. Howard Wilkinson - 1999 & 2000
  11. Kevin Keegan - 1999-2000
  12. Peter Taylor - 2000-01
  13. Sven-Goran Eriksson - 2001-06
  14. Steve McClaren - 2006-07
  15. Fabio Capello - 2008-12
  16. Stuart Pearce - 2012
  17. Roy Hodgson - 2012-16
  18. Sam Allardyce - 2016
  19. Gareth Southgate - 2016-present

Step 6: How To Get The Players To Bond & Create Team Spirit

Creating good team spirit is essential for the best performances on the pitch. Introduce activities that all the players can join in with when you meet for training and go away on tournaments. Fortunately, English players have tried and tested the best team-bonding activities over the years so you will not have to use much imagination, just go with what the players know.

  • Race evenings are always popular. All the players can get in their expensive sports cars and drive at reckless speeds through the streets. The winner is the one who doesn't smash his car up in some old lady's front garden.
  • Invite the WAGs (Wives And Girlfriends) along. The players can be encouraged to sleep with each other's partners so that when your centre forward is photographed, by a national newspaper, in bed with the goalkeeper's wife it won't be a surprise.
  • Alternatively, don't ask the WAGs along and allow the players to call their favourite prostitutes once you have booked into the team hotel.
  • Play drinking games with "the lads". There is nothing like a vodka-fueled evening of fun to get the team bonding. Start with England's famous "dentist's chair" game then progress to the "psychiatrist's couch" and "proctologist's bed". Play these drinking games the night before the game for maximum bonding benefit; this has the added advantage of providing an excuse for the 0-0 draw with Yemen that will result.
  • Play "court case trumps". Players can write down all the court cases they have been involved in or are pending in individual pieces of paper and play a sort of card game whereby the hand is won by the most serious court case trumping the others that have been played. Punch-ups in nightclubs are the lowest hand and are trumped by curb-crawling, failure to take a drug test, drunk-driving and, grievous bodily harm with sexual harassment and racial abuse being the highest hands.
  • Commission an old-fashion "World Cup song" for you and "the lads" to sing on television.
England World Cup Sons featuring players singing.

Step 7: How To Conduct Yourself On The Touchline

The manager's highly visual presence on the touchline during matches is one of your main roles as England Manager. Don't kid yourself that you have made any difference with team selection (there are only 11 English players in the English league to choose from anyway) or tactics (you WILL be using the same old 4-4-2 that has always been used) it is your dramatization of touchline affairs that will be your only meaningful input; you have just 90 minutes to perform your own Swan Lake, don't waste them.

Here are a few performance styles for you to consider;

  • Pace up and down the touchline with a pained expression on your face, occasionally yelling things at passing players. The pundits and public with think you are thinking through every tactical move and making appropriate adjustments when really you are totally confused and are avoiding sitting on the bench where TV cameras will spot you picking your nose.
  • Sit utterly motionless and expressionless on the bench regardless of what is happening on the pitch. Greet every goal for and against your team with the same emotionless stare. The media may give you the name "ice man" if they don't recognize stage fright when they see it.
  • React furiously to every decision that is made on and off the pitch. Strut around in the manner of Mick Jagger performing Honky Tonk Woman, while shouting abuse at the players, the referee, the assistant referee, the opposition, the opposition's manager, your assistant and every member of the crowd. When you have run out of people to shout angrily at, phone a pizza delivery company and abuse the delivery boy when he arrives, trampling the pizza box and waving your arms around as if it were the last act of Il Trovatore. With a bit of luck you will be committed to an asylum sparing you from being sacked or lampooned in the newspapers.
  • Stand aloof from everyone else as if every last person in the stadium smells of urine and you cannot condescend to acknowledge them. Occasionally make ironic hand signals and facetious comments to the assistant referee so that everyone remembers that you are still there.
  • Combine the best bits of all the above. This will make for a real epic performance. Have periods sitting on the bench, calmly chewing gum and swapping banter with "the lads" then erupt in a tsunami of disgust, spitting blood like a rabid monkey at the ballboy. Afterwards calm down and use telepathic signals to communicate your latest strategic masterstroke to the players on the pitch who will hoof the ball towards the penalty area in response.

Step 8: How To Dress As England Manager

You have three options to choose from;

Option 1

Wear a suit. This makes you look business-like and well-prepared as well looking like a Godfather in the Sicilian Mafia. The downside of a suit is that you are open to accusations of not being a hands-on manager, it makes you an immediate target of the "Fake Sheikh" and your dandruff will show up on it.

Option 2

Wear a tracksuit. A tracksuit will get you the respect of the players as they love a manager who mucks in on the training pitch. You run the risk, however, that the tracksuit will make you look pregnant under the pressure from your beer belly.

Option 3

Wear something wild and outrageous. This has never been tried before so this is where you can really leave your mark as England Manager. A French mime artist's outfit would allow you to conduct press conferences without actually speaking or try dressing in drag to draw attention away from your team's dismal performance. A prop of some sort might seem appropriate here but beware of the possibility of the press coming up with insulting rhyming words to describe you in the fashion of the "wally with the brolly". If you complete these phrases you will see how dangerous props can be.

"The _______ with the parasol."

"The _______ with the cravat."

"The _______ with the eye-glass."

"The _______ with the stick of bread."

If you must have a prop then a xylophone would be safe.  

Step 9: How To Speak Like An England Manager

To be able to sound like a real England football manager you must master the correct lexicon. There are a standard set of phrases that the Football Association will furnish you with and these should cover every situation you ever face as England Manager. Here is a sneak peek at some of the phrases and when to use them.

We got the result we needed. - One of the most useful phrases for any England Manager in order to brush off the fact that you struggled to a narrow victory over a team ranked more than 100 places below you.

It's a game of two halves. - Great for avoiding explaining why the first half performance was so dreadful.

He's not quite match fit. - Explains why one of your star players looks like he just walked out of the pub.

Do I not like that. - To be uttered when you fail to qualify for a major championship.

We can only get better. - Say this after your team have won a game in the blind optimism that lightning could strike twice and your team will not struggle to a draw at home against Turkmenistan in the next game.

We all know what he's capable of. - Use this to divert attention away from yet another lamentable performance by your star midfielder and remind the pundits that if they stretch their memories back far enough he did, indeed, once have a good game for England.

It's a platform to build on. - Covers up the mediocre performance in the last game by suggesting that there will be an improvement in the next. There won't be!

It's such a cruel way to go out. - It is essential that you memorize this cliche for discussing England's inevitable exit through losing a penalty shoot out.

Step 10: How To Behave After Being England Manager

Inevitably one day you will cease to be the England football manager. Either you will have been sacked, your contract have not been renewed, you resigned or, most likely, you will have left due to "mutual consent" meaning that you were basically fired but the F.A. could not afford  to pay you off.

Here are some careers to consider after managing the England team.

  • Go back into domestic football management. Although this is a step down from the England job it pays the bills and there will be a host of struggling sides keen to have a big name manager even though you will have been away from domestic football for years and have no real understanding of the modern game.
  • Manage another international team. Middle-eastern countries are always on the market for a new manager and pay well. If there are currently no vacancies do not worry, just wait a few days until one such country executes its last manager for not picking the president's brother on the left wing.
  • Become a pundit on a popular football television show. Explain exactly how it all should have been done and how you would have succeeded where the sides you are commenting on have failed, in total contradiction to the evidence you presented when you were England Manager.
  • Star in dreadful advertisements with other ex England managers (see video left).
  • Write an autobiography about your time as England Manager. There is very little you can say in it that would not have been published in newspapers at the time so confine yourself to resurrecting issues like how it would have all been different if THAT goal not been disallowed, if we had had goal-line sensors, if we had not lost the penalty shoot-out, if the referee had not been bribed, if the hand of God had not intervened, if you hadn't picked injured players, if your star centre forward had not been in prison, if aliens had not abducted your first, second and third choice goalkeepers, if the media had not revealed that you had a string of secret lovers, if there were no such thing as metatarsals, if the F.A. had ignored your illegal business pursuits, if your hot-head striker had not been sent off in every important match he played in, if the weather had not been too hot, wet, cold, windy or just right, if the new ball had not been difficult to control etc. At no time should you raise the point that it would have all been different if you had been a better manager and had access to better players.
Some books about and by former England managers
Farewell But Not Goodbye
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Sir Alf : A Major Reappraisal of the ...
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Knowing the national anthem will help you to create a rousing atmosphere in which your players will perform to their best. Hold singing practice to perfect the pre-match anthem, picking the best singers may help solve team selection problems.

National anthems at the beginning of a game are like a war cry - teach your players to intimidate your opponents by bellowing out the national anthem like Tony Adams at the end of this video clip and your job is half done before the match has started.

Make Sure You Understand The Fans

Dealing with England players is one thing but you will underestimate the fans at your peril. England fans expect to win every World Cup so when you fail you need to have earned their respect beforehand to escape being lynched in the streets when you return home.

Mentioning English pride, three lions roaring and other such cliches will strike a chord with most England fans but repeatedly mentioning beating the Germans in two World Wars will make you the fans' beloved leader regardless of the fact that Germany have won everything since then.

Beware Of Penalty Shootouts

Just as Roman Emperors have to beware of being stabbed in the back, so England Managers should fear penalty shootouts. The traditional approach for English managers is to ignore penalties altogether until they happen and then get at least one player to take one who has no track record whatsoever of scoring. Why do anything different? The English fans and players expect to be eliminated on penalties and you can talk about the injustice of it all after the game.

Some People Are On The Pitch, They Think It's All Over....... It Is Now!

This video clip is the best way to end this page. English football fans will have seen it countless number of times as it gets shown on English TV every time there is a major international football tournament. As the years go by this victory becomes ever more distant and it becomes harder and harder for the current set of players to live up to this.

A whole generation of English football fans are desperate for this to happen again in their lifetime. I know, I am one of them and, alas, I am starting to lose hope.

Another England Football Team Page

Every football fan in England has a view on who should be in the national team. Here is my fun look at fielding the greatest English 11 ever.
Updated: 04/05/2020, nickupton
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nickupton on 06/25/2013

Glad it made you laugh.

MaggiePowell on 06/25/2013

Laughed my ass off... thanks, I needed that.

nickupton on 06/14/2012

Thanks Dusty' Yes, I was sure that sports stars of all types could be recognized here.

dustytoes on 06/13/2012

Back to say congrats Nick for the Editor's Choice award - very much deserved for the humorous take on professionals in the sports arena. The only sport I love to watch is football (American) and yes, I can relate as you say.

nickupton on 06/10/2012

That will be me tonight then Paul!

Glad this is entertaining people. I am sure the Americans can relate some of this stuff to their own, overpaid, over-indulged sports stars.

PaulGoodman67 on 06/10/2012

Funny! But we can all be an England manager, just by drinking a few beers and shouting instructions to the team via a TV! ;-)

sheilamarie on 06/10/2012

I'm with Dustytoes, but lots of fun. "That's how it's done!"

Roohi on 06/09/2012

Good points for becoming the England football manager. I am sure anyone who follows these points will surely make it :)

Very funny, indeed!

dustytoes on 06/09/2012

I don't totally understand this being American, but it is so well written that I wish I was English so I could!

JoHarrington on 06/08/2012

That was hilarious!

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