Arsene Wenger is better off at Arsenal than considering England job
In the wake of England's disappointing, disastrous, dismal, dreadful, deplorable and disgraceful European Championships campaign it's little wonder that the Football Association has, reportedly, placed Arsene Wenger on its shortlist.
The Arsenal manager appears an obvious candidate, even if he has had to put up with continued jibes about the club's failure to challenge for the title from supporters of other clubs. He can provide consistency, almost unparalleled in the modern game, and those who make jokes about finishing top four every season need to step back and find another man who has done that in the Premier League for so long.
He also knows English football well. Having arrived in 1996, he's seen the Premier League develop from a bright new beginning into the multibillion pound entertainment behemoth it is today. He's worked with old school English players like Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Ray Parlour and Lee Dixon, to modern day iterations like Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and others.
He understands the culture, the expectation that surrounds the English team, the pressures, the demands, the fans, the media, everything. He's an intelligent, erudite, articulate man -- which is exactly why it's a job he would never take.
It might well be very well paid, but it's basically a poisoned chalice. Not to mention Wenger already has a very well-paid job that he likes a great deal. He may have to contend with some fans' unrest at Arsenal, as much a consequence of his longevity as results, but better the devil you know.
It matters little what you've done in the game, how great your reputation is, or how well respected you are once you get the England job. It's only a matter of time before your head is Photoshopped onto a farmyard animal or a root vegetable of some kind by a voracious, predatory media. Life's too short to willingly subject yourself to that.
Sven-Goran Eriksson took the job after a successful spell in Italy, and left a figure of fun -- though that was as much for his off-field activities as England's results. Then Fabio Capello, with just the five Serie A, two La Liga wins and a Champions League under his belt before he took over, was roundly criticised and ridiculed as if he were some kind of charlatan who got the gig under false pretences.
It's a job that leaves an indelible stain on a manager's career, from which few recover. Eriksson's post-England career has seen him flit hither and yon; Capello had three years in Russia; and even the most successful manager in recent memory, Terry Venables, only had fleeting managerial jobs after his national team tenure ended in 1996.
Having guided England to the semifinals of Euro '96, he could have had the pick of the Premier League jobs, but by 2003 after a spell in Australia and some half-baked periods at Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Leeds, his managerial career was over.
Kevin Keegan resigned in 2001 and had a few seasons at Man City; Steve McClaren's post-England career has involved just one Premier League club -- Newcastle -- with whom he was relegated last season. The collateral damage of the England job is obvious, and Wenger, having seen these men come and go, simply wouldn't follow in their footsteps, regardless of what it paid.
Just last week he was asked about the possibility of becoming manager of France one day. "I think this time has gone now," Wenger said. "I have been asked a few times to do it. I was always busy somewhere else."
If managing his own country is now something he accepts is not a realistic option, why on earth would it be different for England? You'd also have to ask if Wenger would want to work with an organisation like the FA, whose part in the consistent failures has to be addressed above all else. England have had good managers and good players down the years, yet results remain the same.
Perhaps that is summed by the FA's chief executive, Martin Glenn, who at a news conference on Tuesday made it clear that he was "no football expert." Just to make this clear, the man in charge of an organisation tasked with the operation, strategy and development of football in England is not a football expert.
Imagine the reaction if you settled into your seat, fastened your seatbelt, made sure your tray table was in an upright position and over the Tannoy a voice came: "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I'm your pilot today. I'm not an expert pilot but sure I'll give it a go and see what happens."
The years and years of English underperformance at international level are not solvable simply by just appointing the right manager. A good one will help, certainly, but until issues of coaching, youth development and structure are addressed, and there's a more realistic outlook on what to expect from a team that has won just six games in the knockout stages of international tournaments since 1966, then it'd be a foolish man to take the job on.
Arsene Wenger might be many things, but he's no fool.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.