The Football Association intend to narrow their selection options down to one man before they eventually make a move to secure Fabio Capello’s successor – and it will not be Jose Mourinho.
In addition to suggestions that a shortlist would be drawn up next week by the four-man Club England board charged with finding a replacement for the £6m-a-year Italian, the idea has been floated that there are just two names in the frame.
Overwhelming favourite Harry Redknapp is one and the other was claimed to be Mourinho, who seems certain to secure his first La Liga title with Real Madrid this season.
That would give him the unique status of being a champion in four countries following previous triumphs in Portugal, England and Italy.
He has an uneasy relationship with a number of senior Real players and last week was spotted house-hunting in London.
But it is understood talk of Mourinho being approached by the FA over the England job is wide of the mark and it is highly improbable the charismatic coach will end up being a legitimate target.
Indeed, as FA chief executive Alex Horne confirmed yesterday to BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme, the preference remains for a home-grown candidate.
“They don’t have to be English but clearly that would be very preferable,” he said. “We all get that. We think British is credible.
“It’s key we have someone with very strong English communication skills, ideally someone who’s got experience of managing English players.”
Last week, Horne said it might be the end of the season before an appointment was made.
Yesterday, he altered that stance slightly, confirming that while Capello’s successor would not be announced this month, he could be in place at any point after that.
It all points to Redknapp, who has not done anything to dampen speculation that he would like the job.
However, it is understood the Tottenham boss would prefer to complete his work with the London outfit this term.
And, until a place in next season’s Champions League is secure and their current run in the FA Cup – they entertain Stevenage on Wednesday in a fifth-round replay hoping to secure a home quarter-final against Bolton – is at an end, the FA are mindful of doing anything that rocks the boat.
“We would intend to try and get someone in place permanently by the European Championships,” said Horne. “We are doing this professionally and courteously. A number of the managers on the list are currently working for clubs and we want to avoid disruption to anyone else’s season.
“At some point between now and the back end of the season we will make our move.
“We think we can get the best manager for the job whilst having respect for the fact that, if they’re currently employed, they’ve got to finish their season.
“When we do this we’ll go and try to get one person and we think we can deliver that person quite quickly.”
A senior FA figure yesterday said that the lack of hostility to Capello’s exit meant FA chairman David Bernstein did the right thing in accepting the Italian’s resignation over the dispute about John Terry’s status as captain.