Football: FA begins the search for technical director: Integrated development and tactics wanted

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THE Football Association has begun the search for a technical director to work alongside Terry Venables with the England team and improve the chance of international success by co-ordinating the development of young players.

The move demonstrates the FA's determination to translate the achievements attained by England at Under- 16 and Under-18 level into success in the World Cup and European Championship. The technical director would lay down a basic tactical approach for all England teams and ensure continuity, regardless of who is in charge of the senior side.

Since Jimmy Armfield was brought to Lancaster Gate to sound out opinion within the game on Graham Taylor's successor, he has been looking at other areas where the domestic game can be brought into line with the consistently successful nations. Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive, said it was hoped to obtain agreement for the appointment within the next few weeks.

The technical director would need to be able to influence managers and coaches. Suitable candidates from abroad would be considered as well as those at home. 'We want players to have a higher technical ability and our coaches to reach improved standards,' Kelly said. 'The new man would sit at the top of the pyramid and ensure all the England teams played the same way so players would be comfortable when they made the step up.'

When the role has previously been discussed, the former England manager, Bobby Robson, and present Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson, have been among the names mentioned. Don Howe, who worked with Robson during his eight-year England tenure and was restored to his former role under Venables, has already indicated his interest.

'(This) is something that every other country has had for some time,' he said. 'If, say, Terry Venables wanted to do particular things with defensive players, or wanted to introduce a certain type of player at international level, the co-ordinator would ensure the ideas were brought in and worked on lower down.'

Wales' opening European Championship qualifier against Albania in Cardiff on 7 September could be called off unless their opponents meet Uefa safety guarantees for the tournament by tonight. The championship committee of the European game's governing body, meeting in Geneva, set the deadline after the Albanians failed to respond to a previous request.