Leading Article: FA too hasty in filling England job

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IF, as expected, Terry Venables is appointed England manager tomorrow, the Football Association will have blundered into an over- hasty appointment. The authorities may have found the right man for the task, but there was no need to rush into making a decision.

The team's absence from the World Cup means that television punditry is likely to be the most significant role for a manager this summer. And, as host nation for the European Championship in 1996, England is excused the potential embarrassment of having to play in the qualifying rounds. So for the next two and a half years the team will not have to kick a ball in anger. An appointment could have been delayed for a few months without hampering the rebuilding needed to restore England's fortunes.

Yet the FA has barely been able to catch its breath in the dash to find a new manager. Ever since Graham Taylor quit last November, the Association has been engaged in an undignified, frenetic and highly public quest led by Jimmy Armfield, one-time England international and latter-day head-hunter. Barely a week has passed without officials promising an imminent appointment, as if the life of the country depended upon it. Their incompetence has been compounded by allowing a fly-on- the-wall documentary to be broadcast this week, featuring the lurid language of Mr Taylor's final days as manager.

As a consequence, the FA - supposedly football's most respected body - has been made to look foolish and desperate. The English game is not bereft of alternatives to Mr Venables, talented though he is. A period allowing quiet assessment of these other options, and giving Mr Venables the chance to clear his name over his financial dealings, would have been more in keeping with the FA's august reputation.

Instead, by announcing Mr Venables as their favourite without first establishing his financial probity, officials made it difficult to choose anyone else.

Even after all the twists and turns of the last two months, it would not have been too late for the FA to take stock, delay a decision for a few months and kill off press speculation. Instead, the Association has sacrificed good sense for speed. So a new, still vulnerable, England manager will be despatched into the firing line.