Roy Hodgson will only take the England job if he believes he has the backing of fans and the press, after the Football Association announced last night he is the first-choice candidate ahead of the runaway favourite Harry Redknapp.
The West Bromwich Albion manager made it clear to reporters in August that he would never accept another job unless he felt he had a reasonable groundswell of popular support after his bruising experience with Liverpool in which he lasted only seven months, and was rejected by the club’s fans.
The FA announced at 7.30pm that they had permission from West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace to approach Hodgson, 64, and he will have talks with FA chairman David Bernstein today. It is understood that Hodgson’s stance in August, that he would not take the job unless he was the popular choice, stands now.
Speaking to English newspapers on 11 August, including The Independent, Hodgson said that he would not rush into another big job. “I would rather hope if I was ever going to be offered the England job, it would be with the backing of the important people,” he said. “And that would be of course the people like yourselves, who represent the fans and the people watching football, and of course the fans.
”I think, otherwise, it's going to be a very difficult job for anyone who takes the job, whose not got the backing, if you like, of these people. Because, even if you've got the competence and, if you maybe are the right person, inverted commas, you need to be perceived as the right person. And the perception of my Liverpool appointment was not right and as a result, of course, you end up paying for it.”
Last night there was no clear consensus on how the media stood on the FA approach to Hodgson. The front page headline today of The Sun, scourge of many England managers in the past, is “What are the Hods on that?” but the tone is not particularly hostile.
Hodgson, 64, is out of contract with West Brom at the end of June and would not require the FA to pay any compensation although that is not understood to be the primary factor in approaching him over Redknapp. The FA maintain privately their latest move is not a negotiating tactic to flush out Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, over compensation for Redknapp, but that Hodgson is their first choice.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager was not even the subject of an official approach fuelling the theories that the FA has serious misgivings about the 65-year-old’s suitability. Redknapp has long denied that he has an enmity with Sir Trevor Brooking, one of the four members of the Club England board, but the two men are not close despite their West Ham roots.
The quartet of individuals on the Club England board, led by FA chairman David Bernstein, only told the main FA board of their decision last night. Club England have been charged with identifying the right candidate for the job but their decision will ultimately have to be rubber-stamped by the 14-strong FA board.
Redknapp could have been subject to up to pnds10m in compensation payment to be released from the final year of his Spurs contract. Those who have seen his contract had advised him that they thought the terms of it were unenforceable but it still set the stage for a messy battle between Levy and the FA.
Bernstein will meet with Hodgson today with a view to him taking over the side before Euro 2012 and signing a long-term contract for the World Cup qualifiers that begin in September with the first game at Wembley against Moldova.
Berrnstein said last night: “I'm grateful to Jeremy and all at West Bromwich Albion for their co-operation in allowing us to approach Roy, who I have since spoken with. Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set-out soon after Fabio Capello's departure.
“Further conversations will now take place with Roy and my Club England colleagues before any further announcements can be made.”