FA chiefs in Harry hint as new manager search begins
Country’s unanimous choice Redknapp boosted as England bosses admit public and player opinion will hold sway over their choice of Capello replacement
ENGLAND manager elect Harry Redknapp’s candidacy received another boost yesterday when the Football Association vowed to listen to fans and players as they begin the process of recruiting a successor to Fabio Capello.
Redknapp is the overwhelming favourite for the role, with supporters, pundits and players seemingly unanimous in their support for the man who has revived Tottenham’s fortunes in his four years at the club.
Bookmakers have stopped taking bets on whether he will take over, focusing instead on whether he will be appointed in time to lead a currently rudderless squad into this summer’s European Championship.
FA chairman David Bernstein, who admitted they were looking for an “English or British” candidate, said popular opinion would sway their decision but insisted he would not reveal his hand yet.
“Of course it will. We want to make an appointment that the public are positive about and that excites the fans,” he said.
“But we can’t be driven by that. If you only have one candidate, then it makes a very difficult situation indeed when negotiating and so on. So we have to do it professionally, with an open mind and put a shortlist together, but also include the desires and wishes of our fans, which are crucial to us.”
Asked outright about Redknapp by reporters outside his home earlier yesterday, Bernstein (inset) did little to dispel the feeling the 64-year-old east Londoner is also the FA’s No1 choice. “We’ll see,” he said. “A long way to go.”
Redknapp faces no notable competition if the FA choose English, but Bernstein left the door open for another overseas big-hitter, such as former Chelsea managers Jose Mourinho or Guus Hiddink.
“He will not definitely be English,” he added. “Clearly there’s a preference for an Englishman but in the end we want the best person.”
Bernstein, general secretary Alex Horne, director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking and Team England managing director Adrian Bevington will officially begin the search by meeting today. Yesterday they were still forced to defend the sudden manner of Capello’s resignation, which came following crisis talks at Wembley on Wednesday afternoon.
Bernstein said he did not know whether the Italian’s departure could have been avoided but admitted his public criticism of the FA’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy “wasn’t helpful”.
Defending the demotion of Chelsea skipper Terry, who is awaiting trial over allegations he racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, Bernstein added: “I think we got it absolutely right.”