Fabio Capello will have crucial talks with the Football Association today aimed at shoring up the England manager's future after a torrid two days in which he suggested he might walk away to join Internazionale after the World Cup finals.
The FA rapidly restructured its entire England organisation yesterday in order to appease Capello just hours before his England team beat Japan 2-1 in the last World Cup warm-up game before they go to South Africa on Wednesday. Sir Dave Richards, the chairman of the newly formed Club England, will speak to Capello today to tell him the FA wants him to stay.
Capello's ambiguous statements over his future in light of the interest from Inter sent the FA into overdrive on Saturday night. By yesterday morning it had fast-tracked the Club England organisation into existence to take care of all matters relating to the national team, with Richards appointed as chairman and Adrian Bevington managing director.
Richards will tell Capello today that he has the complete faith of the FA and not to entertain any interest shown in him from Inter. The FA will also encourage him to delete the break clause in his contract for this summer. It had previously said the clause had been removed but amid events over the weekend it transpired that it still existed.
Last night Massimo Moratti, the president of Inter, used the fact that the clause had not been deleted as the green light to make an offer to Capello. He told Sky Italia: “I am happy that a coach like Capello could sign for us after the World Cup."
Unfortunately for the FA, when Capello was asked about the issue yesterday he had to be prompted as to the name of Richards, the FA figure to whom he will now answer. Capello said: "I know everything. I'm happy. I will speak with the new chairman."
He added: "I told you I have not spoken with anyone at Inter Milan. I know nothing about this. My name is in the newspapers and on the radio, and they are an important team, but I can't say anything about this. You know speak with the new chairman." He added: "I told you I have not spoken with anyone at Inter Milan. I know nothing about this. My name is in the newspapers and on the radio, and they are an important team, but I can't say anything about this. You know everything about this. I spoke with the first chairman [he meant the former chief executive, Brian Barwick], I spoke with Lord Triesman, now I need to speak with the other one [Richards]."
It is hoped by the FA that the confusion Capello felt at the rapidly changing hierarchy of the FA – its chief executive, Ian Watmore, and chairman, Lord Triesman, having both quit in the last two months – will be allayed by his talk with Richards. There is some disquiet, however, at how Capello refused to crush rumours over his future on Saturday.
Bevington said: "We will speak [this morning] and go over the same things we spoke about. There have been changes at the top of the organisation in recent weeks, and it's important [for] Fabio that he hears it from the people at the top now."
Sources close to the England manager have suggested that he was tempted by the Inter job, just vacated by Jose Mourinho, especially given the chaos at the top of the FA.
The creation of Club England is a sign of just how far the FA is prepared to go to keep Capello. It also means that the newly appointed FA chairman, Roger Burden, who comes from the amateur game, will not be granted any power over the England team by power brokers, such as Richards.
Richards, the Premier League chairman and FA board member, is a major figure in English football. Bevington is an FA stalwart with a decade at the sharp end dealing with the press. Also on the board is Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA director of football development, the new general secretary Alex Horne, and Michelle Farrer, head of England team operations.
It was a lacklustre performance against Japan in which England fell behind after six minutes and won only through two Japanese own goals. However, Capello announced after the game that nothing he had seen at the UPC Arena in Graz had changed his mind as to the seven players who should stay at home when he names his 23 for South Africa tomorrow.
By that reckoning it looks as if Joe Cole has done enough to make the cut, having played for the first time yesterday since he faced Croatia in September 2008. The most likely contenders to miss out are Michael Dawson, Stephen Warnock, Scott Parker, Darren Bent, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson and Tom Huddlestone – although the latter might just pip Michael Carrick.
Asked what he had learnt, Capello said: "I confirmed those 23 players that I decided last week. Nothing has changed. We have to wait on [Gareth] Barry to see what the doctor says to us after the last check, and how long before he can train with us. We have to know everything about this. We only have one little problem with Gerrard, his knee, but that is OK."