Tuesday 23 January 2018

FA talk to Bruce but Big Sam still in pole position

Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce

Matt Law

Hull City manager Steve Bruce has spoken to the English FA as it continues its search for the next England manager.

Even though Sam Allardyce has emerged as the favourite for the post after being interviewed last week, the FA is continuing to talk to candidates.

FA councillors hope the three men taking charge of the interviews - technical director Dan Ashworth, chief executive Martin Glenn and vice-chairman David Gill - will be able to put forward their preferred candidate at a scheduled board meeting on Thursday.

It is anticipated that the trio will have spoken to all of the realistic candidates - including Eddie Howe, who is in America with Bournemouth, and Jurgen Klinsmann - ahead of the board meeting.

Bruce spoke to FA officials last weekend to discuss his vision for the future of the national side.

Timing

Hull are unlikely to be happy with the timing of the FA's interest. Bruce is the most successful manager in the club's history, having won promotion to the top flight twice in four years, as well as guiding them to their first FA Cup final appearance, in 2014.

The Hull board, however, understands why the former Manchester United centre-half is interested in the England role and appreciates it would be wrong to prevent him speaking to the game's governing body.

Allardyce was the first to be interviewed and remains the favourite, but the FA informed the Sunderland board last week that it was determined to go through a "proper process of elimination" and "due diligence" on all the names on its shortlist.

Allardyce is working at Sunderland's training ground and is adamant he has not been given any guarantees that he will become the manager of the national team.

He was also informed that the FA intended to speak to other candidates, although sources close to the 61-year-old have revealed the former Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United manager is confident about his chances of eventually replacing Hodgson.

It's understood that the FA interviewed another candidate yesterday, with more talks set to take place this week.

Howe is believed to have reservations about taking the England job at this stage of his career.

There is also the possibility of Howe being asked whether he would consider acting as a part-time assistant to Allardyce, while keeping his Bournemouth job, with the intention of eventually taking over.

Klinsmann is interested in the post and the United States are unlikely to stand in his way.

Sunderland, meanwhile, are growing increasingly frustrated at the wait to discover whether or not they will need to find a replacement for Allardyce.

Sunderland were already annoyed that a supposedly private process had become all too public, and their mood has not been improved by the fact that it is still ongoing and seemingly likely to be so for some time yet.

Allardyce, who has made no secret of his desire to manage his country one day, remains the bookmakers' favourite to get the job, and after leaving the club's pre-season training camp in Austria, resumed training with his squad back on Wearside yesterday without a single new face among the playing staff.

He and the club's recruitment team have been working hard since the end of last season to identify and attract new signings, but the fact that it is by no means certain the manager will still be in place when the new campaign gets under way is not helping the situation, with some targets unwilling to commit themselves until they know what is happening.

Displeasure

The Black Cats registered their displeasure when they confirmed Allardyce had been given permission to talk to the FA, and officials are looking for a resolution one way or the other as soon as possible.

In the meantime, contingency plans are being drawn up with the names of David Moyes and Sean Dyche figuring prominently on a wish-list should they need to turn to it.

As things stand, Allardyce is due to send out his team at Hartlepool tomorrow evening as preparations for the new Premier League season continue.

As for Bruce, the Hull boss is facing the loss of full-back Moses Odubajo until 2017 after the club confirmed he had ruptured a ligament in his knee and will miss the next six months.

The 22-year-old former Brentford player sustained the injury in a friendly with Grimsby on Friday and it follows last week's news that Allan McGregor and the manager's son Alex Bruce will also miss the beginning of the campaign with injury problems.

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