Football: FA to cast a wider net

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The Independent Online
WHEN THE Kevin Keegan era is done and dusted, the Football Association will not shrink from treading foreign shores to find his successor as England coach.

Senior sources at the FA gave strong indications yesterday that even if the best man for the job is not English, he will still receive serious consideration. Of course, the men currently in charge at Lancaster Gate still hope to persuade Keegan to stay on.

The FA's acting chief executive, David Davies, not surprisingly found himself still defending the decision to employ Keegan as a stop-gap.

"In the circumstances, we had to give the players the best chance of qualifying for the Euro 2000 finals," he said. "We also believe that, come the end of the season, the choice in terms of who to go for may be significantly wider than it is at this particular moment."

The obvious implication of that statement is that individuals have already been targeted but are under contract with assorted clubs.

Bryan Robson asked Keegan yesterday to come and watch Paul Gascoigne. Keegan's announcement that Gazza could be welcomed back into the England fold during his reign was greeted favourably on Teesside.

"Obviously, that's a boost for Gazza," Robson said. "I think he's been playing well of late, and it's up to Gazza to keep playing well - and then it's up to Kevin Keegan. Gazza's had a reasonable season for us and I think he's coming on quite strongly with his fitness and with his game, so I'd to recommend Kevin that he should have a look at him."

John Toshack, whose reign as Wales manager was even shorter than Keegan's is likely to be in the England set-up, thinks Keegan will have a smoother ride during his four games in charge than Toshack did in his tenure.

Keegan's former Liverpool team-mate resigned after just one match in charge - a 3-1 home defeat by Norway - following a row with the Football Association of Wales.

"They had decided they were going to get rid of Terry Yorath and they wanted me to replace him," Toshack said. "But my situation was a different kettle of fish to Kevin's. For a start I was in San Sebastien coaching Real Sociedad, so I was working a long way away from my players.

"I decided to give it a go for a period of time until they sorted somebody out, but once I saw the house from the inside I realised it was not particularly nice."

"With Kevin we're only talking about three months and four games, that's all. I don't think trying to do both jobs will affect him and he will probably bounce one off the other. He's more or less dictated what he wants from the FA and that's the kind of lad he is. Whatever he puts his mind to, you would not bet against him."