England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate is set to plunge the Football Association’s plans to find a successor to Roy Hodgson into disarray after it emerged that he is reluctant to take the position, even temporarily.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn, who conceded earlier this week that he was “not a football expert, has said that Southgate would be an obvious candidate to take on the role of England manager on an interim basis while a full-time candidate is sought.
But Southgate, who last month won the Toulon Tournament with his young charges, is understood to harbour reservations about taking the reins and overseeing the start of England’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which starts in September.
The former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough centre-half’s position is likely to be a further setback to the FA, whose chairman Greg Dyke admitted yesterday that the organisation faces a battle to convince top managers to take the England job.
The FA has begun the search for a replacement for Roy Hodgson, whose underwhelming four-year tenure was brought to an abrupt end by Monday’s humiliating Euro 2016 elimination by Iceland.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is believed to be among the FA’s targets, with Glenn pledging to hire the best candidate regardless of nationality, but Dyke believes there are other obstacles.
“It’s got to be somebody who really knows English football,” said the former BBC director general, who is leaving the FA next month. “But there’s loads of them now, more of them than there are English. The harder question is why anybody would want it.”
West Ham co-chairman David Gold, meanwhile, has warned the FA off moving for Slaven Bilic, whose Croatia side denied England place at Euro 2008 and whose stock has risen after a good first season in east London.
“I don’t believe he would be the slightest bit interested in taking on England,” Gold said. “England is simply not part of Slaven’s mission. We have backed him 100 per cent and he us; our commitment to each other is total.”