Arsene Wenger has not ruled out the possibility of managing England – after his contract with Arsenal expires.
Wenger has been touted as one of the potential candidates to succeed Roy Hodgson, who last month resigned in the immediate aftermath of England’s embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Iceland at the last-16 stage of the European Championship.
But if the Football Association wants the 66-year-old Frenchman then it will have to wait until the end of the forthcoming 2016/17 season as Wenger intends to honour the remaining months on his contract with Arsenal.
“Could I manage England? Why not?,” Wenger told The Guardian.
“I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focused in club football. I have one more year to go with Arsenal and I have been with them for a long time. I have always respected all my contracts and will continue to do that. What will I do after that? Honestly, I don’t know.
“England is my second country. I was absolutely on my knees when England went out against Iceland. I couldn’t believe it.
“But when you watched the game you could sense, after 60 minutes, that the worst could happen. Did they panic or were they tired? I don’t know, but England couldn’t find an answer to what Iceland posed.”
With the timing not right regarding Wenger, the FA is this week expected to step up its search for a new manager after setting up a three-point action plan at a meeting in Paris four days after the defeat in Nice.
Finding the right man is one of the points FA technical director Dan Ashworth, chief executive Martin Glenn and vice-chairman David Gill settled on, along with undergoing a full assessment of Euro 2016 and undertaking a general review into England’s displays across previous senior tournaments.
Sam Allardyce, Glenn Hoddle, Harry Redknapp and Eddie Howe are the leading English candidates with bookmakers, although United States boss and former Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann is the current favourite.
Odds on Klinsmann, who played in the Premier League with Tottenham during the late-1990s, shorted after Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff, a close friend of Klinsmann, claimed that the 51-year-old was in discussions with the FA.
“Since the arrival of Jurgen Klinsmann – who I think is in discussions with England – we have also given the national team a certain pride, atmosphere and organisation,” Bierhoff was quoted in several national newspapers as having said.
“The success of the story is the high quality but also the good organisation and good atmosphere we have in the group.”
Bierhoff said Klinsmann would be a “good fit” for England given the resurgence he helped start with Germany, but the FA insists nobody has been formally spoken to about the vacant managerial position yet.
The FA has put no timescale on making an appointment and an interim solution remains a possibility when England start their World Cup qualifying campaign in Slovakia on September 4.