x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

English FA make third-party approach for Barcelona's Pep Guardiola

FA are open to appointing a foreign manager to overhaul English game and have sounded out the Barcelona coach, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

Pep Guardiola's contract with Barcelona is up at the end of the season. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
Pep Guardiola's contract with Barcelona is up at the end of the season. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

The English Football Association is examining the possibility of appointing a foreign manager as its long-term replacement for Fabio Capello.

In the face of a broad media demand that Harry Redknapp be allowed to lead the England national team into this summer's European Championship and beyond, the FA's selection committee has been considering an alternative, bolder succession plan.

The four-man group, made up of David Bernstein, the chairman, Sir Trevor Brooking, the director of football development, Alex Horne, the general secretary and Adrian Bevington, the managing director of "Club England", may leave the appointment until after Euro 2012.

Stuart Pearce, the interim manager, would be left in charge for the summer tournament, allowing the new man a clean start next season.

Their aim would be to install an individual capable of not only improving the senior team's style of play, but heading up a planned overhaul of coaching and training methods across the English game. The broad ranging, radical remit is such the FA believes it would be remiss to limit candidates by nationality.

When asked whether the future England manager's nationality was a priority, a source close to the selection committee said: "The FA wants a manager in line with our proposed restructuring of English football. A manager who could be involved not just at national team level, but at youth level, and in the training of coaches. Our priority is quality."

Delaying the long-term appointment until after the European Championship would be a risky strategy, not least because it will open the FA up for further criticism from a domestic press eager for Redknapp's appointment. That disapproval is only likely to be silenced by the recruitment of an obviously superior candidate.

To that the end the FA has made a third-party approach to Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, who has won eight major trophies in four seasons implementing a possession focused attacking game.

Guardiola is out of contract in June and has spoken frequently of his inability to sustain the intensity of work required to apply his method at Barcelona. Intent on devoting more time to his young family, the 41 year old has been expected to take a sabbatical from football should he decline to take up a contract extension at Camp Nou.

A position with a national team, however, would reduce day-to-day coaching demands on Guardiola, who is a fluent English speaker and has a long-standing ambition to work in the country. He is understood to have asked for time to consider the FA's approach, initially communicated to him by Manchester United scout Martin Ferguson.

"In the next days I will decide if I continue or not," said Guardiola after being eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea on Tuesday.

"We'll talk about everything, about the situation and then we'll take a decision because right now, it's evident that it's time to."

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