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Fabio Goes

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Arriverderch Fabio. Siyonara, aufeedersayne, bon jewer, tata, gudbiy. We enjoyed your mangling of the English language, if that is what you were going for. Shame about the results. And yet, we read that you were the most successful manager of the national side of all time, statistically speaking. That is, under your incomprehensible instruction, Engerland won more games, as a percentage of those played, than under any other manager. Just not ones that were that important, or that anyone cared very much about, you know, ones that ACTUALLY WON US SOMETHING.

Fabio leaves just in time. The ignominy of a typical performance in the next big competition was mere months away and he departed without the traditional photoshopping of his visage onto a rotund, blameless tuber. Only when the boss is made to resemble a root vegetable, or pilloried for his aversion to weather, or winning, is it normally time for him to go. Under normal circumstances, the team coach would leave by the side door with the full opprobrium of the nation ringing like a profane clarion in their ears, not in a stupefying flash of moral indignation.

He was in Switzerland before our mouths closed. He left behind the legacy of a country not too sure of what to make of his tenure. This is not normal. We are used to being quite certain of what to make of the departing manager - a draft excluder perhaps, or a stuffed conversation piece, or grind them up to make cat food. Fabio's reign was neither here nor there. He conceivably read the runes, looked at the opposition and our history of deficiency and hopped off before we could append the moniker of failure to his four years of administration. And it only cost us £40 million!

And now Harry Redknapp is in the frame. Flash Harry, diamond geezer, loved by the fans, respected by his peers and, crucially, understood by his players, owing to the convenient fact that he speaks what could loosely be described as English. In choosing his next move, what he must decide is this: exactly how unpopular does he wish to become? How much of that golden halo would he like to relinquish? If his masochistic streak is as wide as a goal mouth, then it may be just the job for him. Harry should question whether he would enjoy being vilified for failing to meet the lunatic expectation that our football team can best the best in the world, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. If he would enjoy being beaten up by the press and assailed by every pub boor in the land for not turning the clock back to an imagined halcyon period of English dominance, then by all means he should climb aboard. But Harry, if you do, buckle up, you are in for a bumpy ride.

The papers have already written the obituary of England's chances in the forthcoming European tournament. All they need is the face of a new manager to arrange on a baking potato to illustrate the piece. Harry already has a hang-dog expression, so it should not be too hard to create an amusing image. He is a man who looks like he is losing even when he is winning, it's the way his face hangs. Can you imagine what he would look like writing the cheque for the tax on a salary of £6 million a year?

What we actually need for the unenviable task of leading the national team is a man we don't much care for in the first place. Someone whom we would expect to let us down, even before he puts on the nylon jacket of office. What is required is an individual who has no popularity to lose. What's Gordon Brown doing these days, I wonder?