Fabio Capello will arrive in London today to meet the Football Association chief executive, Brian Barwick, for the first time with a view to being officially offered the job of England manager. The FA hopes that this time Capello is the right man and there will be no twist in the tale although it is crucial that today's meeting with Barwick is a success.
Capello, 61, has assured those close to him that he wants the England job and is not like Luiz Felipe Scolari almost two years ago about to leave the FA jilted and embarrassed. Officials at Soho Square are taking nothing for granted over today's meeting and have not closed their other options but they are optimistic that Capello and Barwick will reach agreement today on the terms of his employment.
How much will a man who has won nine league titles (albeit two disputed) in Italy and Spain cost to employ, in terms of salary? That question is coloured by the fact that Capello has already been paid €6m (£4.3m) after tax by Real Madrid for this season after he was dismissed from his post in the summer. Money is said not be his priority, although an FA which is about to reach a turnover of £200m next year will be capable of meeting the demands of its new England manager, thought to be less than £4m.
Yesterday Capello was given his first taste of the kind of attention that accompanies the England job. With his wife, Laura, he was followed by television crews and media in Madrid, where he was overseeing removals from his home near the Bernabeu, and Milan, where he returned in the afternoon. He has not spoken publicly in the last five days but the FA will want to hold today's meeting somewhere more private than its Soho Square HQ.
There has still not yet been any detailed discussion about who Capello would bring in as backroom staff. The only fixture is likely to be Italo Galbiati, who has worked with him at Milan, Roma and Real Madrid and has been a caretaker manager at San Siro on more than one occasion.
Those around Capello have been told that should he accept the job today he should then tell the FA who he wants to work with and the governing body will make contact with them. Franco Baldini, who was recently interviewed by West Ham for their technical director role, has also worked with Capello at more than one club, chiefly as an adviser in the transfer markets.
The FA will make it clear to Capello that it wants an Englishman on the coaching staff. The Italian is not the type to arrive with a staff of more than two or three and is likely to have his own thoughts, advised by Baldini, on which Englishman fits the bill.
The former England striker Alan Shearer has no connection with Capello. He turned down the England assistant's job when the previous manager Steve McClaren offered it less than two years ago and is not understood to be keen now. Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, will give Capello a briefing on those he might consider.
Should today see the end of the process of appointing a new England manager, it will come just 21 days after McClaren was dismissed. The process has been tightly controlled by Barwick, Brooking and the FA's lawyer, Simon Johnson. The withdrawal of Jose Mourinho on Monday met with relief from some at the FA, who were unsure of the former Chelsea manager's motives.
The major fear over Capello's suitability his grasp of English was raised yesterday by Arsne Wenger, who nevertheless described the Italian as an "outstanding" candidate.
"I don't know how good his English is," the Arsenal manager said. "It is a big part of the job, dealing with the media, and for the England job it's a major part. Fabio has a clear idea of what he wants. It's about how strong you are when you swim against the stream and I think that's quite a needed quality in this country. He will have got used to the pressure before with Real Madrid."
The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said: "To manage a national team you need to be a certain age and have plenty of experience, have a presence and a CV which is indisputable and Capello has all that. Anyone in England would prefer [an English manager] but the most important criteria is a manager who is successful.
"If you can't get someone from England, and I think the choices are limited... find somebody who is successful whether from Mongolia, Italy... or Scotland."Reuse content