The Football Association will not attempt to recruit Fabio Capello’s successor on the cheap.
Capello’s shock departure on Wednesday brought to an end a second expensive attempt to bring success to England by recruiting an overseas manager.
Between Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson, it is estimated the FA have splashed out in excess of £50m on foreign bosses.
Yet there has been no marked improvement in fortunes and both reigns were scarred by lamentable PR gaffes.
In between, Steve McClaren was paid nothing like the £6m-a-year picked up by Capello and, as the groundswell of opinion in favour of Harry Redknapp continues to build, it is not thought FA chairman David Bernstein is in favour of matching that figure.
However, Bernstein is adamant there will be no penny-pinching should the FA decide Redknapp, or an alternative home-grown candidate, is the way forward.
“I didn’t have the luxury of being involved in the previous appointments but clearly there have been large amounts of money involved,” said Bernstein.
“With Fabio, it was expensive but I don’t think you would say it was a mistake.
“Going forward, we will have to assess things very carefully.
“But let me be absolutely clear we are not going to do anything on the cheap.
“We have to get the right person for the job and we will pay the proper market rate.”
To virtually everyone, it seems, that person is Redknapp.
Cleared of tax evasion just hours before Capello’s bombshell resignation, the 64-year-old fulfils every criteria anyone could wish for.
Despite insisting he has never thought about the England situation, it is felt Redknapp can be prized away from Tottenham, if not immediately, then at the end of the Premier League season on May 13, just under two weeks before the Three Lions’ first practice match against Norway in Oslo.
However, as the FA are acutely aware, there is a danger of moving too quickly without going through the recruitment process thoroughly enough. Plus it is understood Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will resist any attempt to lose his manager before the end of the season.
So, when Bernstein, general secretary Alex Horne, director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking and managing director of Club England Adrian Bevington sit down today to discuss the situation, the four-man Club England executive responsible for making the eventual decision will do so with a clean sheet of paper.
“We understand the feeling of the nation and supporters,” said Horne. “Fans of England are very important when it comes to choosing the right person for the job. But we have to sit down and look long term. We owe it to ourselves to write up the job brief and make sure we sit down calmly and ensure we have an exhaustive list.”
And the brief will involve far more than just managing a football team.
Whilst non-English candidates will be considered, they will need to have a better grasp of the language than Capello mastered in his four years at the helm.
In addition, it is anticipated the successful candidate will pay more than lip service to the National Football Centre in Burton, providing a lead to the numerous coaches and youth teams that will be based there. “I am not asking for them to spend days and days working with the Under-17s and Under-19s,” said Bevington.
“But if you are there for a week or 10 days it is perfectly reasonable to expect a new manager to wander from one room to another a couple of times and spend some time talking to them.”
Going to see the Under-21s where practical is also expected, yet another plus for Stuart Pearce, who will lead England into their friendly with Holland on February 29. The FA are anxious to stress nothing has been ruled out, including the potential for one person to be appointed for Euro 2012 and someone else afterwards, however impractical that seems.
“It is a possibility,” said Bernstein. “I am only talking common sense. We are not prepared to restrict ourselves at this stage. He might be English, he might be British, he might not be, he might be for the Euros only, he might be long term. We need to look at all the options. It is absolutely pointless doing otherwise 24 hours after we lost our manager.”