David Bernstein, the Chairman of the Football Association, this week revealed that despite current England Head Coach Fabio Capello’s vow to step down from his post after Euro 2012, the governing body of the domestic game have yet to begin the process of identifying the Italian’s successor. Bernstein’s comments come at a time when some of the possible English replacements for Capello are enjoying, or perhaps enduring, a difficult spell.
Bernstein, who also rejected the notion that Capello could stay on past next summer, said: “It
Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp is the current favourite to replace Capello, and the 64-year-old is riding the crest of a wave after defeating Arsenal at the weekend to record a fourth straight Premier League win. With Spurs up to sixth and well-placed to push even higher – a point behind fifth-place Liverpool and three behind Newcastle United in fourth with a game in hand – Tottenham could soon find themselves back in the Champions League places. However, the start to the season Redknapp suffered through – when Tottenham conceded eight goals in two games against Manchester United and Manchester City respectively – indicates just how quickly the mood around a particular manager can change.
Nowhere is that more vividly illustrated, however, than the Stadium of Light and Steve Bruce, who around a year ago was the toast of the division, guiding Sunderland to a startling victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. That victory took the Black Cats to sixth in the table but since January their form has plummeted, with a change in the boardroom – the move of Niall Quinn from Chairman to International Development Director and the import of owner Ellis Short into Quinn’s former job – only adding to the speculation surrounding the manager’s future. At this juncture, Bruce is an increasingly remote candidate to replace Capello, having described the opportunity as “wonderful” in September 2010.
Roy Hodgson appears to stand somewhere between the high of Redknapp and the low of Bruce. Slowly re-building his reputation with West Bromwich Albion after a failed stint at the Liverpool helm, Hodgson’s high water mark came as Fulham boss and the well-travelled 64-year-old has the remainder of the season to approach that level again to be a serious contender to replace Capello. In a similar vein, after a spell at Blackburn Rovers that was brought to an untimely end, Sam Allardyce – now trying to bring West Ham United back up to the Premier League – has until May to return his name to the forefront of the pack. A barnstorming run to promotion with the Hammers could catapult Allardyce into a spot as the FA’s chosen one.
There remains the unlikely possibility the FA again look abroad when Capello calls it a day, or an as yet unforeseen candidate makes the position their own before next summer, but each of the current leading contenders has much work to do before then.