Fabio Capello has no current plans to reconsider his decision to leave his post as England manager after next summer's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, sources close to the Italian have confirmed, despite Sir Trevor Brooking's suggestion yesterday that the Football Association may yet ask him to remain in the job.
"Fabio's contract ends in the summer and the mindset is for change but you never say never," said the FA's director of football development. "It would be a nice problem, and one we have not had for 40 years, but let's worry about it when it happens. We are certainly hoping to do better this summer than we did in South Africa."
It has long been thought that Capello intends to retire when his £6m-a-year contract with the FA expires after next summer's finals, despite a number of high-profile jobs – most notably at the enormously wealthy Russian club, Anzhi Makhachkala – being offered to the Italian during his spell in charge of the England team.
Sources well acquainted with the 65-year-old's intentions confirmed yesterday that he is not currently considering the possibility of remaining in charge of England. Capello would, it is thought, look unfavourably on any late attempt to extend his reign after 18 months in which that possibility has not so much as been mentioned by the game's power brokers.
Brooking's suggestion that, in the event that Capello does depart, his replacement would ideally be English can be taken as proof that, among the FA's kingmakers, there is a genuine appetite for change. The chairman, David Bernstein, is minded not to make a decision on a successor until after the finals – in order to avoid any unnecessary disruption – but, with just five weeks between the end of the Euros and England's first friendly of the new campaign, he is almost certain to have a number of candidates in mind.
Brooking admits that, with the National Football Centre at Burton due to open next year, the "mindset" is that most of those possible replacements will be home-grown, to offer an incentive to those coaches receiving their education in Staffordshire.
"If we could get someone home-grown it would send out the right message," said Brooking. "It would launch a new era and we do want a system where we have an English coach. But we don't want to lock it in. How many candidates are there? I am sure Harry Redknapp would be high in the betting but we will look at it on merit at the time. When it comes to the end of the season it will be clearer."
England will today discover their opponents for the finals when the draw for the group stage is made at 5pm at the National Palace of Arts in Kiev. Capello's side have been placed in the second group of seeds, so they will face one of the hosts (Poland or Ukraine), or the holders Spain or the team Spain defeated in last summer's World Cup final, the Netherlands.
The Italian must be hoping to be drawn in Poland's group (either A or D) and not just to avoid the more rigorous challenge presented by Vicente del Bosque's Spain or Bert van Marwijk's Dutchmen, but to minimise travelling time. England have chosen Krakow as their base for the tournament, and being drawn alongside Ukraine – who beat them in qualifying for the World Cup – would mean a journey of 600 miles to Kiev. A place in Group C, too, would allow England to remain in Poland for the duration of the group stage.
Capello's German counterpart, Joachim Löw, though, has warned against seeing either host nation as a soft touch. "With all the enthusiasm in their own countries, and the support in the stadiums, they are bound to be especially motivated," said the Germany manager, also seeded in pot two. "The hosts are good for a surprise. One shouldn't underestimate them. It is going to be a high-class tournament. There will not be any easy games in the group or knockout stages."
His view was echoed by Del Bosque, with the manager of the world and European champions insisting there was "no team in the competition who you could say, a priori, would be easy".
He added: "There is no chance whatever group we are given will be easy because we have 15 rivals and they all have a hope of winning the competition."
As well as Löw's side, England will definitely avoid Italy and Russia – also drawn among the second seeds – and will be hoping to dodge Portugal, the strongest side in pot three, despite their difficulties in securing qualification. Sweden, Greece and Croatia would all provide simpler obstacles. Capello would hardly relish meeting Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland, seeded in pot four alongside Denmark, the Czech Republic and France.
- More about:
- P Funk