Early Doors

Who’d be England manager?

Early Doors

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Stuart Pearce

Between September 3 and 13 1752, nothing happened in England. Not one thing.

That is because the switch from the old Julian calendar - named after Julius Caesar - to the new Gregorian calendar - dubbed in honour of Pope Gregory XIII - was made in order to more accurately measure the change from one year to the next.

This change led to a period of 11 days simply going missing, forever consigned to be nothing more than a historical anomaly.

Following the FA's announcement that Stuart Pearce will take charge of England's friendly with the Netherlands at the end of the month, it looks like Pearce's tenure will suffer a similar fate in the football annals of 2012.

In football terms, Pearce's service as a stopgap between the departure of Caesar Fabio Capello and the almost unanimously anticipated arrival of the gregarious Harry Redknapp is unlikely to be oft-recounted in the years to come. Not if it is only for the Dutch game, at any rate.

Still, that has not stopped his temporary appointment hitting the front pages this morning, for all the wrong reasons.

The Sun has gone big this morning with the headline "England in race storm No 2". The story it relates to involves Pearce allegedly racially abusing Paul Ince, a former England team-mate and now also a manager, though currently out of work.

In the aftermath of the heated exchange in which the alleged comments were made, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor: "Stuart will be ringing Paul to apologise.

"Stuart regrets what he said. It was in the heat of the moment. He wants to make sure everybody knows he is sorry."

Such an incident would once more shake English football to its very core, were it not for the fact that all this happened almost two decades ago.

The incident allegedly occurred during a Premier League game between Ince's Manchester United and Pearce's Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford in December 1994. Despite this being an 18-year-old piece of news with no fresh spin to add in 2012, and it also appearing on the front page of today's Independent, The Sun have labelled the story an exclusive.

Now, Early Doors is not saying that simply because this occurred back when John Major was still Prime Minister and before Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's first birthday that it should be treated with a lesser degree of seriousness than the current race allegations levelled against John Terry or the recent events involving Luis Suarez, but this has been public knowledge for years.

The press has been well aware of this story the whole time that Pearce has been in the employ of the FA. He has represented his country as Capello's assistant at a World Cup and at three tournaments as boss of the Under-21 side. He will be leading the Team GB football team at this summer's Olympic Games, the greatest sporting show on earth. And yet, only now he is to take temporary charge of the senior side has this story been rehashed.

The allegations were not though sufficiently serious just two years after they were made to stop the Daily Mirror publishing its infamous "Achtung! Surrender" splash in the build-up to England's Euro 96 semi-final against Germany, complete with mocked-up images of Pearce and Paul Gascoigne wearing Brodie helmets and the strapline "For you Fritz, ze Euro 96 Championship is over".

The Sun's story also references the fact that Pearce's brother, Dennis, is a member of the BNP and stood as a candidate to become an MEP during elections in 2009.

Notwithstanding the fact that Pearce has distanced himself from his brother's political beliefs ("My brother's political views are his own and are not in any way reflected in my own views"), such a link is unfair.

Alan Curbishley may be one of the nicest men in football, but no one could ever be found describing his persona as being rock and roll unlike that of his brother, Bill, who has managed The Who, Robert Plant and Judas Priest during a career spanning more than 40 years in the music business.

The late political writer and essayist Christopher Hitchens was greatly championed by the left and by atheists, while his younger brother and fellow journalist Peter continues to make a living writing as an ardent Christian for the Mail on Sunday.

To imply guilt by association of a sibling may be an easy thing to do, but it is simplistic and inaccurate.

Pearce has been an exemplary servant to the FA since he took up his post there in 2007 and is widely held up as a shining example of the wholly impassioned and committed player that the latter-day England team so lacks.

And yet, even he is not immune to in-built reflex of the British media to try and bring down any man who takes charge of the England team, even for one match. If Pearce held out any hopes of upsetting the odds and getting the job full-time, those hopes have now surely been dashed by one generation-old story which has been rehashed.

The man nicknamed 'Psycho' has taken on a job, albeit on a short-term basis, that only a madman would consider. He may be thinking that even he is not crazy enough to take the role.

Redknapp is the overwhelming favourite to take the England job full-time. Privately, he must view his favourable relationship with the press as a major factor in making the decision to take the job should it be offered to him.

His candid, plain-speaking nature has always provided hacks with great copy, and his propensity for a cheeky, homespun one-liner regularly has them rolling in the aisles of the press conference room.

But if he thinks that a good relationship with the press pack built up over three decades of management is going to give him an easy ride in the England job, he has got another thing coming.

It's all enough to make you wonder why anyone would be daft enough to take the job at all.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We have never stopped speaking, because he is physically present it does not mean the conversation has just started now. The conversations have been ongoing, in different modes, but with physical presence you get your ideas across better, which is good. You can speculate whatever you want, but for us it is fantastic to have him here. It is not distracting, not at all." - Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas insists that the presence of club owner Roman Abramovich at the training ground this week is not affecting him. Think about that next time your boss is stood behind you, looking over your shoulder.

FOREIGN VIEW: "What happened at the end of the game with Ibrahimovic? I wasn't involved, but the same thing that happened between Ibrahimovic and Aronica last Sunday happened with Storari now. I hope that someone spotted the incident and that it will have consequences. Of course, things happen during a game, but you deserve to be punished if you make a mistake like this. Nothing dangerous happened, but the gesture he made was the same as what he did last weekend." - Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini claims that Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic slapped Juve keeper Marco Storari during Wednesday's Coppa Italia clash. Ibra will begin a three-match suspension from Serie A matches this weekend after being sent off for a similar incident involving Napoli's Salvatore Aronica last weekend. No wonder the big Swede has a reputation for always being rubbish in February.

COMING UP: In the pipeline today there are match previews for every one of the weekend's Premier League fixtures, as well as team news for all the major leagues across Europe.

Jim White and Paul Parker will both be talking around the big issues of the day - and there are plenty of those - in their latest blogs, we will be bringing you the results of our Goal of the Week poll and The Fantasist will be dropping by to host the latest Fantasy Football webchat.

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