Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce will be appointed England manager within the next 24 hours, sources tell Press Association Sport.
The 61-year-old Sunderland boss arrived at Victoria Park for his club’s first preseason friendly against Hartlepool shortly after 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday evening as the news emerged that he is likely to be announced as Roy Hodgson’s successor following a Football Association Board meeting on Thursday.
It is a dream appointment for the former Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham manager, who was beaten to the post by Steve McClaren 10 years ago.
News of Allardyce’s imminent departure from Wearside came just hours after FA chief executive Martin Glenn revealed that the governing body was close to making a decision, but insisted it would not be rushed.
The Sunderland manager has been the bookmakers’ favourite ever since it emerged that he had held talks with the three-man panel — Glenn, vice chairman David Gill and technical director Dan Ashworth — charged with the task of finding the new man.
Discussions have also been held Hull manager Steve Bruce, while Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann are also understood to have figured prominently on the FA’s shortlist.
In a statement released minutes after their 3-0 friendly victory at Hartlepool, however, Sunderland expressed their anger with the media reports, saying: “Naturally we are aware of the intense media speculation this evening, however, at the present time Sam Allardyce remains Sunderland manager.
“We share in the anger and frustration of our supporters and would like to assure them that we are working to conclude the matter in the best interests of Sunderland AFC.”
Allardyce will face the task of picking up the pieces after a disastrous Euro 2016 finals campaign in which England was ignominiously dumped out of the competition by Iceland.
However, his remit will be wider than just the senior international squad as the powers that be attempt to address the serial failure of recent decades even as the 50th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup final success is just days away.
Earlier in the day, Glenn had told Sky Sports News: “We’re not after a short-term mercenary, someone just to do the job for a couple of years.
– Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) July 20, 2016
“I want someone to come in to the England role to really work with not just the senior team, but to make sure all the great work with the under-16s, 17s, 18s — look at how well the under-19s are doing now — and to knit all that together.
“We want someone to do a great job for the England national team, but as well make sure all the development teams are laddering up to something more effective.”
Part of the process will also involve ensuring players at the highest level reproduce their club form when they pull on the England shirt, which has not always happened at recent tournaments.
Glenn said in a separate interview with BBC Sport: “The new manager has got to be someone who can inspire people to get the best out of themselves, build resilience and unashamedly adopt the kind of psychological techniques that other sports and other football teams have done, to really inspire people that when they put their England jersey on they play as well for England as they do for their club.”
If the FA’s search for a manager is at an end, the Black Cats now face the task of finding a ninth permanent boss in less than eight years, although wheels have been in motion for some time.
Sunderland were unhappy with the way news of Allardyce’s discussions leaked out, and the resulting uncertainty surrounding his position at the Stadium of Light has proved disruptive to preparations for the new season.
However, they have also drawn up a list of potential candidates, and it is understood the names of former Everton and Real Sociedad manager David Moyes and Burnley’s Sean Dyche are at the very top of it.