Monday, 10 December 2007

The Italian job

England have moved a step closer to appointing an Italian coach after Jose Mourinho ruled himself out of the race.

The Portuguese tactician was understood to be the English Football Association’s main choice to replace Steve McClaren, but he has this evening rejected such an option.

"After deep and serious thought, I decided to exclude myself from being England manager," Mourinho is quoted as saying on his agent’s website.

"I'm sure the FA will hire a great manager, one able to place the team back where it belongs."

Mourinho added that he had held talks with FA chief executive Brian Barwick and director of football Trevor Brooking.

This evening’s developments will increase speculation that England will now look to Italy for an appointment.

Fabio Capello and Marcello Lippi have both emerged as leading candidates – even if both have insisted that they have yet to be approached.

"There has been no contact at all and I don't want to say anything else," Lippi, who led Italy to Germany 2006 glory, told the BBC.

Capello made a similar statement last week even though he has openly admitted that he would love the challenge of coaching England.

Although Capello and Lippi fit the tag of "world class," both men speak only rudimentary English.

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill continues to be linked with the job, despite publicly ruling himself out. Former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been tipped as an "ideal" replacement by Franz Beckenbauer, but has so far made no expression of interest in the job.

The FA is reported to want to name its new coach by 19 December, although England do not have a fixture until 6 February when they will play Switzerland in a friendly, and the next competitive fixture will be a World Cup qualifier next September.

Source: C4 Football Italia / BBC Sport

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