Despite the unsubstantiated fears of anonymous worry-worts, Steve Holland will ethically balance Chelsea and the English national team. His dual appointment has several precedents, and he is almost universally regarded as a man of upstanding character.
Gareth Southgate will likely ask Chelsea’s assistant coach Steve Holland to join him on the England national team staff. The two have built a strong working relationship over the three years they have coached England’s U21 side together. Holland is one of England’s best developers of young talent as well as being a strong “training ground” coach.
However, the Times reports that some Premier League clubs are concerned that Holland’s dual appointment creates a conflict of interest. They believe that Holland will learn things from the national team – particularly injury and fitness status – that he can then exploit at Chelsea.
Holland has already had access to information on Premier League players via England’s U21 side. And as the Times and others point out, Holland would by no means be the first to wear dual hats for club and country. Or, in Gary Neville’s case, country and SkySports.
Doing the work that the media majors apparently won’t be bothered to do, the Hertfordshire Mercury (!) asked Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino for his perspective.
"No, it’s not a problem. They know what they need to do. If the FA are comfortable to have people that share clubs and national teams, it’s not important in my opinion."
Rarely will we defer to Tottenham’s judgment on anything. But if the head Hotspur passes up the opportunity to whine, critique or otherwise throw shade at Chelsea, then clearly this is a non-issue.
The only other manager who may take umbrage at the arrangement would be Steve Holland’s former boss, Jose Mourinho. Assume, hypothetically, Chelsea thrashed Manchester United after Holland’s first training session with England. Accusing Holland of trading on insider information would be a new deflection for Mourinho.
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He appears desperately in search of new attention-getting quips, but this should not be one.
England’s recent history is marked by the disconnect between England’s immensely successful youth and academy players and the fall from grace of the senior national team. Holland would be an immense aide to Southgate in rebuilding the senior team. He would identify and integrate these promising youth players into future sides.
Neither the FA nor Gareth Southgate would benefit by giving any credence to these anonymous discontents. Steve Holland has already balanced club and country at the national U21 level. England could do far worse than having Holland and Southgate on their touchline heading into the next round of World Cup qualifiers.