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Thursday, January 26, 2006
England search starts next week

A small group of 'experienced heads' led by Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick will pick Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor.

Barwick is to put his plan for finding the next England head coach to the FA board next week, and he and other senior FA figures would like to have a man in place before the World Cup.

The new England head coach's first match in charge will not be until August and although Barwick claims that time is on the FA's side, he is aware of the advantages of making an appointment sooner rather than later.

Barwick said: 'We have the best part of six months in real terms because the first international after the World Cup is in mid-August.

'So in practical terms we have that long but that's not going to be the way we play it.

'Next Thursday there is an FA board meeting and the recruitment of the next England coach will be on the agenda.

'I hope to put to the board a procedure for their consideration. In the past what has been a practical way for the FA to do this is to call on some of the experienced heads around the FA, [create] a small group and with the chief executive leading to go for and find the appropriate person.

'The process won't probably be in place for a week or a fortnight and after that we do have some time to make the right call.

'We can afford to be patient and try and make the right judgement call and use the time we have in our favour.'

England striker Michael Owen has admitted it would be 'annoying' if England's World Cup preparations were disrupted by constant speculation about Eriksson's successor, but Barwick was confident the two issues could be kept apart.

Speaking in Montreux, Switzerland, on the eve of the 2008 European Championship draw, Barwick added: 'It's easy to divorce the two. There is constant speculation because you guys [the press] will return to this subject and I fully expect, realise and respect that this is a good story.

'But I hope it won't - there's no way and reason why it should. The two things are pretty significantly divorced.'

Barwick refused to be drawn on how important experience or nationality would be to selection panel.

He said: 'I don't want to put together a photofit picture of the person who will be the next England coach because that will box me into a corner.'

The appointment process may not be straightforward however because some FA board members are determined to have an Englishman while others believe it was more important to choose the best candidate whatever his nationality - and most top names that spring to mind are foreign.

Barwick falls into the latter camp, although ideally he would prefer an English candidate, and he will need to choose his 'experienced heads' carefully if there are not to be ructions.

Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, the 'kingmaker' who persuaded Eriksson to become England boss, FA chairman Geoff Thompson and director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking would all be of Barwick's opinion, but that may not be the case with other board members such as Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and Premier League chairman Dave Richards.

Barwick believes it could be an advantage for the successor to have the experience of watching England in the World Cup.

He said: 'What we have is the opportunity to get that person in place hopefully before [the World Cup] and if the upside of that is they can watch the side they inherit in August with a sense of semi-distant ownership then it may well be an advantage.

'I don't think there's any chance at tall of that person being involved directly within the inner sanctum of Sven's set-up - unless they are already in it of course.'

However, Barwick clarified this did not put Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren - who is one of Eriksson's coaches - at an advantage or disadvantage, with the FA keeping an open mind about the appointment.

Barwick reiterated that he wanted the best person for the job but said he anticipated applications from English coaches.

'I have absolutely no doubt that some English managers will apply.'

Asked if any would be capable of doing the job, Barwick replied: 'Yes, of course.'

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