The Football Association's main board would even be prepared to wait until after the Euro 2008 finals next summer to appoint the new England manager if it meant that chief executive Brian Barwick could deliver a name they agreed was up to the job. Influential members of the board would be happy to see Sir Trevor Brooking take temporary care of the team until then.
As Martin O'Neill attempted to distance himself from the job yesterday in somewhat ambiguous terms, another raft of unsolicited names were put forward for the England job. Franz Beckenbauer's warm recommendation of Jurgen Klinsmann to wake England from what he described as their "coma" was the most interesting and Barwick will most likely investigate the German's attitudes towards the job.
The FA delegation, including Barwick, flew to South Africa yesterday for the World Cup qualifying draw tomorrow. The FA chief executive is not working to the pressurised deadlines he put himself under to find Sven Goran Eriksson's successor last year. Some on the board have reconciled themselves to having a caretaker in charge for the next friendly against Switzerland on 6 February, possibly longer. They also feel Barwick should be looking for an older coach – certainly one more experienced than the deposed Steve McClaren.
With Barwick to consult Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger over who he should appoint, the chief executive is expected to present the name to the FA main board along with a dossier of well-informed opinion and recommendations on why it should be that man. Brooking, the FA director of football development and a caretaker manager with West Ham three years ago, will step into the breach in the meantime. Many of the backroom staff are paid on a game-by-game basis and will be kept on in the short term.
In his column in the German newspaper Bild, Beckenbauer described Klinsmann as "ideal". "He is a man with clear ideas, and England could envisage a new beginning with him in charge," he said. "He would have three years until the 2010 World Cup finals to get a new team on its feet. He speaks English perfectly, and has a glowing reputation in the country. He is better suited to working as a national coach than as a club manager, where you quickly get worn down by daily pressures.
"Klinsmann for England? Something has to happen soon. You can barely believe that England have been eliminated. Euro 2008 will be missing something without them, no doubt at all. But you have to ask what their team has achieved in recent years, despite having big names like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham. Nothing since they won 5-1 in Germany in 2001.
"Since then they've gone home quickly from three major tournaments. Their team appears lifeless. Even when they played a weakened German side at Wembley three months ago, they lost in lamentable fashion. What has gone wrong? Is the Premier League booming only because it is packed full of strong overseas players?"
Another German with impeccable international credentials is the Greece manager Otto Rehhagel who won Euro 2004 with a team of unknowns captained by a former Leicester City player. Age is against Rehhagel, who at 69 was born before the outbreak of the Second World War. A controversial figure who won three Bundesliga titles with Kaiserslautern, he would be very much an outsider although he said yesterday he fancied the job.
"I cannot believe England did not qualify," he said. "We thought it had finished 2-2 and I told my team on the coach. Then we heard 3-2 to Croatia. For England it is a catastrophe. For me it was their biggest game for four years, the most important game they've played. In that case you have to play with your experienced goalkeeper, not a young one.
"England have the players but what they need is the right tactics, putting the players in the right positions. You should give the job to Jose Mourinho. But if he does not want it, they can come and ask me. My contract is up after Euro 2008 and while I speak some English I'm sure I could learn what I need to in three months."
The former Real Madrid, Milan and Roma coach, Fabio Capello, would also like the England job, according to his former assistant Franco Baldini. "I heard about the big personalities in the England team, but that is nothing new to Capello. He has worked with those types of characters all his life," Baldini said.
Blighty's Best: Top 10 English candidates
English candidates are thin on the ground. Brian Little, who last week took over at Wrexham, is the only manager in work to have won a domestic honour (Football League Cup with Aston Villa in 1996). No current manager has overseen a Champions League tie. Contenders, should the FA decide to go English again, could include:
* Harry Redknapp
Doing a fine job with Portsmouth, encourages flair, good eye for a player – albeit often a foreign one.
* Trevor Brooking
Already on the FA payroll. Impressed in two brief spells at West Ham. Astute thinker and cool head.
* Steve Coppell
Unlikely to want such a high-profile position but clever, organised tactician.
* Alan Curbishley
Beginning to get to grips with West Ham but not as strong a contender as before. Ruled himself out.
* Paul Ince
Experienced international showing managerial promise, but only at Macclesfield and MK Dons so far.
* Stuart Pearce
Inspiring ex-international who is doing well with under-21s, but struggled at Manchester City.
* Alan Shearer
No management experience whatsoever, but nor had Jürgen Klinsmann or Marco van Basten.
* Gareth Southgate
Bright and articulate but finding it tougher going at Middlesbrough than McClaren ever did.
* Tony Adams
Former skipper who has been learning his trade in Portsmouth and the Netherlands, but a bit "new age" for some.
* Sam Allardyce
FA will not touch him while the shadow of BBC Panorama's transfer sting hangs over him.
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