Bernstein: club vacancy no threat to recruitment drive

FA chairman insists search for new manager will not be hastened, despite events at Bridge

The Football Association insists that the process to appoint the
new England manager does not need to be accelerated and that it can
attract the best person for the job regardless of whatever club
roles become available between now and the end of the season.

The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas means there is a well-rewarded job on offer at Stamford Bridge and there may be candidates who appear on both wishlists. "This position is so unique that the right person would want to do it on a sensible basis and for the right reasons," said David Bernstein, the FA chairman. "It is a very fluid situation, I am not sure if [other clubs searching for managers] helps or hinders. It depends how the cards fall."

Bernstein is one of the four members of Club England, the panel charged with finding Fabio Capello's successor. The quartet, made up by Alex Horne, the FA's general secretary, Sir Trevor Brooking, director of development, and Adrian Bevington, Club England's managing director, has assembled a "handful" of names, thought to be around five. Over the next month that will be whittled down before any approaches are made, Club England will then make a recommendation of one name to the full FA board.

"We have now arrived at a number of target names," said Bernstein. "I would call it a flexible target list because it's not fixed in stone and we will react depending how events unfold."

There will be no decision this month, with the end of April suggested as the earliest any recommendation could be made to the board. May, though, remains the likeliest timeframe. Yesterday Bernstein rejected calls for the process to be speeded up amid fears that a delayed appointment will affect England's chances at this summer's European Championship.

"We are focusing on a very small number of high quality people," said Bernstein. "We are treating this with the greatest urgency and under no circumstances should our taking our time over this be taken as anything other than dealing with it professionally and urgently. We don't believe rushing this process is going to be good for arriving at the right conclusion.

"We are also doing this treating clubs and managers with the greatest of respect. Most of the people we are looking at are in positions and whatever we do we ought to try and do it in a way which enables clubs to finish their seasons with the minimum of disruption."

Harry Redknapp remains the strong favourite for the role, although the FA has not yet ruled out a caretaker, most probably Stuart Pearce, being in charge at the European Championship.

The FA will make any approach to a potential manager through the proper process, the "front door", but wants to first ensure any target is keen on taking the job. Even if an approach is made there is no certainty it would end with an offer.

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