Redknapp clear favourite if FA can sway Spurs

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THE FOOTBALL Association will have to persuade Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy that Harry Redknapp will not find it too taxing doing two jobs if, as expected, they turn to him as their new England manager.

Fabio Capello’s resignation as head coach last night leaves the FA needing to plan in both the long and short-term with only four months between the nation and their opening Euro 2012 Group D game against France in Donetsk.

Capello resigned following a meeting with FA chairman David Bernstein and general secretary Alex Horne at Wembley Stadium yesterday.

The Italian felt undermined by the board’s decision last Friday to relieve John Terry of the captaincy until after his July court case, when he will deny racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Capello had been due to step down after the European Championships but his departure from his £6m-a-year role was hastened by the board taking the decision over Terry without seeking his input.

Having worked with the Italian for four years, it is safe to assume the association will have been aware that last Friday’s affront to his professional dignity might well precipitate his resignation.

It is also reasonable to expect them to have already made their minds up as to who they want to lead England next, and Redknapp’s name and the post have long since appeared as inextricably linked as Siamese twins.

However, Spurs are making their first serious challenge for the league title since Bill Nicholson’s hey-day which included the first modern-day League and FA Cup double in 1961.

It was felt in many quarters that Levy would not stand in Redknapp’s way should he be invited to take over from Capello at the end of the summer.

However, he will feel reluctant to allow him to take even a part-time role in England’s Euro 2012 preparations if he thinks it will impact adversely on Tottenham’s pursuit of Premier League glory and its complementary reward of a return to Champions League football.

Tottenham’s impressive displays in last season’s European Cup competition – in which they defeated both Milan clubs, AC and Inter, before bowing out to Real Madrid – enriched Redknapp’s CV which already included FA Cup success with Portsmouth and in the League Cup with the White Hart Lane outfit.

Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce is an outside candidate for the role on a permanent basis but – unless the FA look beyond Redknapp – it is more likely he will be asked to work under the guidance of the former West Ham boss as he divides his time between the Lilywhites and the Three Lions.

England take on Holland in a friendly at Wembley with Holland at the end of this month and should Levy rebuff any FA approach then their head of elite development Gareth Southgate – a former Middlesbrough manager – could be asked to oversee matters in alliance with Sir Trevor Brooking, FA director of football development, against the Dutch.

England then play Norway in Oslo in May and Belgium at Wembley in the first week in June before heading to their base in Krakow to prepare for France.

Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson offered a foreign influence either side of Steve McClaren’s dismal reign, but the FA have indicated a preference for putting the nation back in the hands of an Englishman.

Redknapp heads the home candidates but Alan Pardew’s star has risen exponentially this season for turning Newcastle into unexpected candidates for a Champions League spot when many felt them more likely to flirt with relegation.

Pardew’s name came into the reckoning ahead of Redknapp emerging yesterday from the shadow of his court case, as did that of Roy Hodgson.

The damage caused by the former Inter Milan manager’s ill-fated short spell at Liverpool has been offset by the rescue act he performed at West Brom last season, and he has previous international experience with Finland and Switzerland, taking the latter to the 1994 World Cup and a highest FIFA ranking of No 3.

If the FA do look beyond these shores there would be no more intriguing choice than former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

The Real Madrid manager has said he wants to return to England to work – albeit it at club level – but expecting him to be able to straddle two jobs a thousand miles apart ahead of Euro 2012 could be a barrier, even before considering the twin problems of temperament and remuneration.

Former Leeds United and England defender Danny Mills is also sceptical as to whether Redknapp would be able to juggle the England job and his duties at Spurs.

“I presume Harry Redknapp is the favourite, but he’s got a job to do with Spurs until the end of the season,” he said.

“If it’s going to be Harry Redknapp are Spurs going to allow it? The FA are almost going to be held to ransom.”

Timing perfect for Redknapp: Page 20.

ing to be a trial for whoever takes charge.”

mfl

Timing perfect for Redknapp: Page 20.