It is little more than a day since Fabio Capello confirmed he would step down as England manager after the European Championship finals in two years' time and already the declarations of interest are springing up from all corners of the land. The race for the most coveted job in English football/ the most poisonous chalice in the game (Harry Redknapp saw it both ways yesterday) has begun.
With the Football Association suggesting that the next man in charge of the national side will be English, the shortlist is likely to be just that. Redknapp is the strong early favourite according to bookmakers and yesterday the Tottenham manager said he could not imagine refusing the job. He described it as the "pinnacle of any English manager's career". But Redknapp also believes that come 2012 he will be too old for the role. Capello will be 66, and a self-labelled "pensioner", when he heads home to Italy – Redknapp will be 65 in 2012.
The others to show an interest in the job yesterday were the 55-year-old Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce, the baby of the pacesetters at 49.
Redknapp put Bruce forward as a leading candidate to take over and the Sunderland manager responded by returning the compliment. Allardyce, meanwhile, has long touted his interest in the role. The Blackburn manager was interviewed for the job during the search for Sven Goran Eriksson's successor in 2006 and is still keen. Yesterday he outlined experience (and his experience) as a key factor in any future appointment.
"It's not a young man's game, that's for sure, nor is the Premier League," said Allardyce. "It's very difficult for a less experienced manager to live with the pressure. It's a job you have to have done your apprenticeship for. At England level you can see the pressure. We saw the pressure on Fabio at the World Cup which he had never experienced before. You saw Steve McClaren when he got the post.
"The pressure is the most important thing. Look at [Scotland manager] Craig Levein the other night, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He dropped his glasses, he's normally a calm guy.
"It depends what you really want and what the FA want. If you want someone to get the best out of the players, then I think an Englishman is better than a foreigner."
Redknapp is in agreement over the nationality of the next manager, but he would prefer to see it go to a younger candidate. "I want to see an Englishman get the job and there are lots of lads out there who could do that job, I'm sure," Redknapp said. "Look at Steve Bruce."
Over to you, Steve. "If Harry Redknapp is saying that, I would have thought that Harry must be the contender, so I will throw it back in his court," said Bruce yesterday. "It is nice to be linked. I suppose being English there are not many of us around managing in the Premier League. So who knows? How many are there in the Premier League at the moment? Roy Hodgson, Sam [Allardyce].
"In an ideal world for me, being an Englishman, I would like to see an Englishman in charge of England."
All the "candidates" agree firmly on that then, and all are also in agreement when it comes to the baggage that will inevitably accompany the job.
"Whoever gets it gets absolutely slaughtered," said Redknapp. "No one escapes it, even the great Bobby Robson got slaughtered, but people will always take it."
Allardyce said: "The depths of intrusion is the greatest problem for you and your family. But I spoke to Bobby Robson and Terry Venables last time. They say it's the greatest job you could ever have, then obviously you want to do it."
"You have to have thick skin, mind," was how Bruce put it.
But for all the hassles, yesterday's trio of early runners have no doubt what their answer would be if the FA came knocking in two years' time.
"Honestly, it's not something I sit at home and ever think about. I really don't. I've always said if you're an Englishman, it would be hard to turn it down, because it's the pinnacle of your career," said Redknapp. "No, I wouldn't turn it down."
Bruce's response was similar when asked if he really, really wanted it. "Of course I would but I very rarely try to blow my own trumpet or anything like that," he said. "I would love to have a go at it. Why not? If you are going to do it, it must be the proudest time of your life to go and manage your country, even though we know what is going to go with it.
"If you are going to do something, you have to try to get to the top and that is the way I have always strived, whatever I have done. And that has to be the highest accolade you can have."
Allardyce declared: "I went for it last time so it's obviously for me. But, as Bruce pointed out, regime change is still two years, and a lot of Premier League games, away."
Bruce added: "It is all about timing. There might be a new kid on the block by then. There might be somebody who comes out of the woodwork, Ian Holloway for instance."
Early front-runners for the impossible job
What he said "Of course I would [like to manage England] but I very rarely try to blow my own trumpet or anything like that. I would love to have a go at it. Why not? If you are going to do it, it must be the proudest time of your life to go and manage your country. Even though we know what is going to go with it, it would be absolutely wonderful."
What chance does he have? The hard-working manager would relish the position and has been backed by fellow managers Harry Redknapp and Owen Coyle in the past year for the job. Had successful spells with Wigan and Birmingham, and if Sunderland are pushing towards a European place in two years he will be a definite contender.
What he said "If you want someone to get the best out of the players, then I think an Englishman is better than a foreigner."
What chance does he have? Has long craved the opportunity and was interviewed for the job in 2006 before Steve McClaren became manager, but if still at Blackburn Rovers and struggling to break out of mid-table mediocrity in 2012 it would be hard for the FA to justify giving him the job.
What he said "If you're an Englishman it would be hard to turn it down. It's the pinnacle of your career."
What chance does he have? With Spurs about to open their Champions League campaign he will have had at least one season in Europe's top competition by the time the job is available which will only enhance his reputation. And, at 65, it would be a fitting final job in a colourful career. Likeable 'Arry also seems to have the fans' backing for the role.
Odds 3-1 favourite.
James OrrReuse content