Pool-bound Hodgson set to reject England approach

ROY HODGSON could be about to slam the door on one of England’s management options.

It is believed Hodgson is finally ready to quit Fulham and join Liverpool, despite being placed high on the Football Association’s hit-list of candidates who could replace Fabio Capello.

Within hours of landing at Heathrow yesterday, Capello was on his travels, back home to Switzerland, where he is expected to have a short break before learning whether he is to remain in his £6million-a-year post or being relieved of his duties.

Speculation is growing that Capello will be axed in the wake of England’s woeful performances in South Africa, with TV pundit Chris Kamara the latest to leap on the bandwagon, branding the 64-year-old’s position “untenable”.

Club England chairman David Richards and managing director Adrian Bevington both travelled home with the team and will now assume responsibility for deciding what course of action to put before the FA’s international board, who ultimately will decide Capello’s fate.

The situation is exceedingly complex, partly because it is only four weeks since Capello signed a revised contract that removed a break clause that came into effect after the World Cup.

After turning down a number of managerial offers, including one from Inter Milan, to commit his future to the Three Lions, Capello would no doubt demand significant compensation if he were to be removed, having declared on Monday he wanted to see the job through to Euro 2012.

Yet also key to the FA’s thinking is who to replace Capello with.

Although Harry Redknapp has widespread public support, Hodgson would have been a more likely candidate given his vast experience at home and abroad and the apparent inevitability of an Englishman becoming Capello’s successor.

However, managerless Liverpool have been attracted by exactly the same attributes and twice in recent days stories have emerged that Hodgson would join the Anfield giants “within 24 hours”.

Those stories have started to gather more momentum, with the belief that Hodgson is not willing to hang around and wait for the FA to get through their consultation process and risk what would almost certainly be his last chance of managing one of England’s biggest clubs.

Liverpool would regard themselves as too big to be made to wait, especially as their non-World Cup players, which include Yossi Benayoun, Lucas Leiva and Emiliano Insua will be among the group that is due back to training next week, the start of a month that also includes a crucial Europa League third qualifying round tie on July 29.

However, as it presently stands, the deal remains unsigned, offering the FA an opportunity to hijack it.

If Hodgson does opt for Anfield though, aside from Redknapp, the candidates to replace Capello are limited.

Current England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has impressed senior figures within the FA hierarchy but was heavily involved in the Three Lions’ training programme in South Africa and may find his reputation – which he has just about restored following his dismissal by Manchester City in 2007 – has been slightly tarnished by association.

Alan Curbishley is also still available, but after being overlooked when Steve McClaren got the job four years ago, it is hard to see how the former Charlton boss would be an attractive proposition now.

There is a body of thought that feels David Beckham, with suitable coaches alongside, could act as a figurehead as Diego Maradona has been for Argentina.

Yet the inspiration Maradona has provided his team in South Africa is at odds with the shambles of qualification, when Argentina almost did not make it.

It lends credence to the view that the FA would be better sticking with Capello, whose track record, until the last five unbelievably bad weeks, is virtually unblemished and, given his contract situation, would have to be paid in some manner whether he was working or not.

The idea does not sit easily with a number of Capello’s detractors, which include Alan Shearer and fellow pundit Kamara, who has been particularly outspoken in his views.

Kamara said: “His position becomes untenable. It is the worst performance at a tournament I have ever seen from an England team. That performance was shocking.

“The manager’s decisions were all poor. The tactics were poor. The decisions he made were poor. He never got any cohesion around the squad. He failed basically.

“But the manager is not big enough to hold his hands up and say it was my fault.

“I am sure he is not going to walk away. That would be the honourable thing to do. The FA are going to have force him out.”

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