Fabio Capello was given the first ray of hope yesterday that the Football Association will keep him on in the England manager's job when Phil Gartside, a key member of the FA's main board, broke cover and gave his backing to the Italian staying on.
The Independent also understands that, despite his low-key performance in Monday's press conference, 24 hours after the 4-1 humbling at the hands of Germany, Capello genuinely wants to stay in the job and is prepared to put aside the indignity of the FA telling him to wait for two weeks while his position is reviewed.
The 64-year-old will take most encouragement from the words of Gartside, who – as well as being on the FA board – is a close friend of Sir Dave Richards, the man who has the ultimate responsibility for deciding Capello's fate. Gartside, who has remained in South Africa on holiday, said: "I'm saying he's the right man for the job. He has lost one game of football. That's my opinion.
"I'm in South Africa and he's back in England. I don't know what the outcome will be. I don't know that there's a decision to be made, is there? He has got a contract and that's it.
"It's my personal opinion that he should carry on. Yes, I get on very well with Dave Richards, but I'm not speaking on anyone else's behalf. Personally, I don't think his future is up in the air."
While Gartside is only one member of the 11-man FA main board to whom Richards will have to report, he is one of the five professional game representatives and regarded as a leading voice. The other representatives of the professional game, including Manchester United chief executive David Gill and former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, will also be crucial to Richards's decision on Capello.
Last night, sources close to Capello said the England manager wanted to stay in the England job for the Euro 2012 campaign because he wanted revenge for the defeat to Germany. The source also said Capello believed that if he was sacked, two and a half years of work and knowledge he had accrued would be wasted.
Capello is prepared to overlook the fact the FA would not back him in the aftermath of defeat to Germany and would be prepared to carry on working for the organisation. Last night, the FA said privately that it was committed to its review of Capello's position. The governing body also said it had not approached any other manager.
Roy Hodgson, the main candidate for the England job should Capello be sacked, is expected to tie up the last few details of his move to Liverpool today. The window of opportunity for the FA would have been yesterday if it was to try to hijack the deal but it has not made contact with Hodgson. The FA is thought to have now discounted Hodgson as an option.
Gartside's comments are the most encouraging news for Capello that he may yet have a future with England in the 72 hours that followed the team's exit from the World Cup finals. However, it should be stressed that Gartside is only one voice among many that Richards will be obliged to listen to. If he were to sack Capello, then the £10m payable to the Italian in compensation would have to be approved by the FA main board.
Another factor that could yet convince Richards to keep Capello – thus cutting short the uncertainty around the England manager – is the pressure Richards himself has come under. Richards is the Premier League chairman and senior figures at the league itself are concerned he has become so heavily involved with the FA and the England team that he is danger of blurring the boundaries between the two bodies.
Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, has always taken care to distance himself from the more chaotic elements of the FA but now there is concern that the public perception will be the Premier League is running the England team. Richards has a number of influential positions at the FA, including being chairman of Club England, the FA body now charged with running the national team.
However, all Richards' power – Club England, his seat on the FA main board and the chair of the FA's international committee – flows from the fact he is Premier League chairman. He no longer has a club affiliation. If he was in danger of losing his Premier League position, he would also endanger his career.
Hodgson, meanwhile, has only a few small contractual issues to resolve with Liverpool and will take the manager's job at Anfield despite the possibility of the England position opening up.
Hodgson will seek reassurances about outgoings from the current squad before taking the job, but that will not create a stumbling block and Hodgson also knows he has the support of senior players, several of whom were informed last week of his imminent appointment.
His salary is agreed. The length of contract may be one of the few outstanding issues to resolve, plus compensation payable to Fulham. Hodgson is on a one-year rolling contract at Fulham, though, and the compensation will therefore not be an impediment. Though there is a chance he will be unveiled as manager on Thursday, that target is slightly ambitious given the contractual details still to be ironed out.
What changing the England manager can cost
£2.5m The cost the FA incurred paying off the rest of Steve McClaren's contract after the team failed to qualify for Euro 2008. The former Middlesborough received his payout after he refused to resign.
£6m The amount paid to Sven Goran Eriksson after an agreement was reached for him to step aside after the 2006 World Cup, after he was caught in the "fake sheikh" sting. He had been handed a contract to 2008 at £5m a year just two years earlier after being seen discussing the Chelsea management post with Peter Kenyon.
£12m The amount it is expected the FA would have to pay to Fabio Capello in order to pay off his contract. This comes after an escape clause was removed when his contract was amended.
Current World Cup wages
Fabio Capello (England) £6m p/a (the highest)
Marcelo Lippi (Italy) £3m
Joachim Löw (Germany) £2.5m
Dunga (Brazil) £800k
Diego Maradona (Argentina) £800k
Kim Jong-Hun (North Korea) £170k (the lowest)