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England search continues after Jose snub

sports Updated: Dec 11, 2007 11:53 IST
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Jose Mourinho's decision to turn his back on the job of England manager after talks with the Football Association has left Italy's Fabio Capello as the new favourite to replace Steve McClaren.

But having been widely criticised for rushing the appointment of McClaren in August last year, the FA may take their time in finding someone else to take on what is often described as an "impossible job."

In a statement issued on his agent's website, former Chelsea boss Mourinho said Monday: "After deep and serious thinking, I decided to exclude myself from being England manager despite it being a fantastic position for me."

Mourinho did not express any public interest in the England job while at Stamford Bridge where he steered Chelsea to two Premier League titles in his first two years in charge, last season's FA Cup and the League Cup in 2005 and 2007 before he walked out on the London club in September.

But such was the 44-year-old Portuguese's popularity with fans and the British media that his name was repeatedly mentioned for the role after McClaren was sacked following England's 3-2 defeat against Croatia at Wembley, that ensured they failed to qualify for next year's European Championships.

Many within British football thought Mourinho's interest in the position was merely a way of trying to 'smoke out' offers from leading European club sides following his resignation from Chelsea after a falling-out with the side's Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Even so, the FA were all but obliged to pursue him or risk accusations from a hostile media they had let the best candidate slip through their fingers.

England though don't have a competitive match until the start of their 2010 World Cup qualifying programme in September, although their next match is in February when Switzerland, co-hosts of Euro 2008, come to Wembley for a friendly international.

Capello, one of European football's most successful club coaches, has expressed an interest and replaced Mourinho as favourite with leading British bookmaker Ladbrokes following the withdrawal of the 'Special One'.

Marcello Lippi, who guided Italy to the 2006 World Cup title, is another possible contender. Both men fit the FA's bill for a "world-class" coach.

The FA could, however, buy themselves some breathing space by appointing a senior English football figure as a caretaker manager.

This happened when Joe Mercer briefly took charge after Sir Alf Ramsey, England's 1966 World Cup-winning supremo, was forced out after the side failed to qualify for the 1974 finals. However, such figures are in short supply.

Despite the likes of Capello, Lippi and former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann, who played in England for Tottenham, being repeatedly linked with the England post, there is no guarantee any of them will want one of the most-scrutinised jobs in world soccer.

Football may have been invented in England but the team's lone major international trophy was that 1966 World Cup triumph, on home soil.

A lack of success in more than 40 years has done nothing to dampen the expectations of both the public and an impatient and often highly-criticial media despite lingering doubts the structure of English football is geared too much in favour of the country's leading clubs and not the national side.

Meanwhile long-suffering England fans will hope that someone can make good on the words of Mourinho, who also said Monday: "I'm sure the FA will hire a great manager, one able to place the team back where it belongs."