The “unique” opportunity to manage England’s soccer team means the search for Fabio Capello’s replacement won’t be hindered by competition from Chelsea, Football Association chairman David Bernstein said.
The London club is seeking a new manager after billionaire owner Roman Abramovich fired Andre Villas-Boas after eight months two days ago, raising the prospect of Chelsea and the F.A. going for the same candidate following Capello’s resignation last month.
“This position is so unique that the right person would want to do it on a sensible basis and for the right reasons,” Bernstein told reporters in London yesterday. “It is a very fluid situation, I am not sure if (other clubs searching for managers) helps or hinders. It depends on how the cards fall.”
Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp is the bookmakers’ favorite to replace Capello, who quit after disagreeing with the governing body’s decision to strip Chelsea’s John Terry of the national team captaincy. Spurs are in third place in the Premier League and pushing for automatic qualification for Europe’s elite Champions League next season.
The four-man Club England board, which is responsible for selecting the new manager, is working toward making an appointment by early May, Bernstein said. The European Championship, where England is grouped with co-host Ukraine, Sweden and France, starts June 8.
“At the last board meeting we agreed our intent would be to make a recommendation of one person to the F.A. board,” Bernstein said. “We have now arrived at a number of target names. I would call it a flexible target list because it’s not absolutely fixed in stone and we will react to events depending how events unfold.”
Although the F.A. expects to hire a new England manager at the end of the domestic season, there remains a possibility of an earlier appointment “if certain things fell into place,” Bernstein said, adding that the process won’t be rushed.
“We are treating this with the greatest urgency and under no circumstances should our taking time over this be taken as anything other than dealing with it professionally,” he said.
The F.A.’s next step is to narrow its target list by excluding those who may not be interested in one of the most high-profile national coaching jobs. Officials have spoken to soccer industry contacts about potential candidates, though haven’t sought the opinions of current players.
“We don’t want to disrupt the season of the clubs,” Bernstein said. “Most of the people we are looking at are in positions and whatever we do we ought to try and do it in a way which enables clubs to finish their season with the minimum of disruption.”
The governing body has said the possibility remains that there won’t be a permanent manager in place until after the 16- team European Championship finishes on July 1.
Stuart Pearce, England’s under-21 manager, led the senior team in its 3-2 home loss to the Netherlands last week. The former England defender has said he’s willing to do the job on a temporary basis at Euro 2012.
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