Mourinho edges closer to England job

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> A person close to Mourinho in Portugal said that the England Football Association had made &quot;direct contact&quot; with his agent, Jorge Mendes.

Updated: December 09, 2007 16:09 IST
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Jose Mourinho appeared closer on Friday to becoming England's national team coach.

"Why not?" the former Chelsea manager said when approached by a Sky Sports News reporter at his home in Portugal and asked whether he could be the next England coach.

A person close to Mourinho in Portugal told The Associated Press that the England Football Association had made "direct contact" with his agent, Jorge Mendes, and the talks were ongoing.

"Jose Mourinho is available to listen and analyze the situation," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not directly involved in the negotiations.

The FA didn't confirm or deny that contact had been made with any of Mourinho's agents or advisers.

"We've got a lot of work going on behind the scenes and it's very important that the fans know that we're not sitting on our hands and doing nothing," FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said.

"In terms of who we're speaking to, who we're approaching, how we approach anyone, that has to remain private and everything is being done correctly and privately. Who we've spoken to, I can't possibly comment."

Bevington said the FA was in the process of consulting club coaches, including Arsenal's Arsene Wenger and Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, to get some guidance about whether to appoint an Englishman or a foreigner.

"We're only two weeks since Steve McClaren left the job and during that work a huge amount of work has been going on," Bevington said. "We're not under any pressure from a timeframe. We don't have our next match until February. We don't have our next competitive match until September so we're not under any great rush but we're trying to conduct this in a very professional way.

"The next phase once we've done this consultation is to identify who the man is, put it to the board, get it authorized and make an appointment. When we feel we've got our man in place, we're ready to go, we'll go with it."

Mindful of how media leaks overshadowed the appointment of McClaren 18 months ago, the FA has been careful not to let anything out since he was fired two weeks ago for failing to take England to the 2008 European Championship.

McClaren got the job in May 2006 after reports leaked out that the FA had spoken to Luiz Felipe Scolari, the man who guided Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title. The Portuguese lost interest in the job after being hounded by the English media.

This time, the FA has been at pains to say it is in no hurry to make an appointment, especially as England failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 and has no competitive games until qualifying for the 2010 World Cup begins in September.

The FA also denied reports that the two officials asked to find the new coach had fallen out.

The Daily Mail said that FA chief executive Brian Barwick and director of football development Trevor Brooking couldn't agree on whether the newcomer should be English or not.

"There is absolutely no truth in this story whatsoever," said former West Ham star Brooking, who is reportedly in favor of appointing Hammers manager Alan Curbishley.

"There is no disagreement whatsoever between Brian and me on who the next England manager should be. In fact, we are agreed on the way forward. We are both totally committed to working together to find the right man for the job."

Brooking said he had never pushed Curbishley for the job.

"I have not expressed a preference for any potential candidate, either publicly or privately," Brooking said. "Specifically, it is completely untrue that I have been backing Alan Curbishley for the job. I have never been asked about Alan.

"Brian and I are extremely annoyed at what appears to be an effort to destabilize our work together to find the next England manager, but we will continue to move forward together in the same positive manner."

The FA also cooled speculation that it has drawn up a shortlist of coaches. British newspapers have suggested that Mourinho, Curbishley, Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill, former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello, former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann and Italy World Cup winner Marcello Lippi are the leading candidates.

The bookmakers made Mourinho the favorite at 6-4, with Capello next at 2-1. Curbishley is at 50-1.

Mourinho came to Chelsea in June 2004 after guiding FC Porto to the Champions League title. He led Chelsea to its first league championship in 50 years followed by another the following season, and also took the Blues to League Cup and FA Cup triumphs.

Capello, by contrast, has no experience of English soccer. He spent his entire career as a player or coach either in Italy or Spain.

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