Despite coming through the Euro 2016 qualifying group with a 100% win rate, the future of England manager Roy Hodgson will not be resolved until after the tournament this summer.
Though his side looked impressive in what was admittedly a relatively handy qualifying group, England’s subpar showing at the World cup in Brazil two years ago has not been forgotten – as such, a strong performance at the European Championships in France this summer is vital if Hodgson wants to remain in place ahead of the World Cup qualifiers later this year.
If Hodgson does depart after Euro 2016, the FA have a number of options with which to replace him – though much will depend on whether they want to persevere with an English (or British at least) coach or look further afield once again.
Here are five such potential options (though obviously there are plenty of other candidates):
Gary Neville (Valencia)
The former Manchester United defender had been considered by many as the natural successor to Hodgson – his role as a coach in the current manager’s backroom staff was seen as a slow integration process, with a final handover taking place possibly this summer or in 2018.
However, Neville’s first taste of management has not gone to plan. His time at Spanish side Valencia has been something of a trainwreck and has probably damaged his credibility somewhat.
He remains the joint-favourite with bookmakers for the role, and it his appointment would still be a largely popular one, but his lack of managerial experience has been laid bare in a way that is might take some time to get over.
Brendan Rodgers (Unemployed)
While hiring Neville would be a largely well-received appointment, recruiting former Swansea and Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers would be much more divisive.
The Northern Irishman is the other joint-favourite for the job, but the wider footballig public are to this day unsure if his Liverpool side’s 2013/14 Premier League title challenge was the work of a managerial genius or fuelled by a free-scoring Luis Suárez.
What can be said in Rodgers’ favour, however, is the fact that his record with youth players is solid – he was notably keen to work with young players at Anfield and his eagerness to work with home-grown talent was evident in the fact 7 of the 23 England players in the last World Cup squad were either Liverpool players at the time or bought later that summer.
Slaven Bilić (West Ham)
While it would be difficult to prise Bilić away from West Ham, it would not be impossible if the FA wanted him badly enough. He is one year into a three year deal, with Hammers co-owner David Sullivan holding off on offering the ex-Beşiktaş boss a new contract until next January at the earliest.
Bilić made his name in international football, taking Croatia to the quarter finals of Euro 2008 in a tournament that earned both the manager and the players massive plaudits from across Europe. This year, he has transformed West Ham from a lower-midtable side to Champions League contenders in less than eight months.
His would be an interesting appointment, but the overly conservative English FA are unlikely to consider Bilić due to his maverick nature.
Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)
At just 38, Howe is the youngest manager on this five-man shortlist (though all so far are within a decade), but what he has achieved in such a short managerial career has been outstanding.
Hired as full time manager in 2009 at the age of just 31, Howe has overseen a transformation at Dean Court that has brought them from the bottom of League Two to the promised land of the Premier League, where they look set to confirm their survival for this season in the next few weeks.
That being said, his top level management experience is extremely limited. He might be a future England manager in the making, but appointing him now would be a needlessly massive gamble by the FA. He may be among the frontrunners as far as the odds go, but it would almost certainly be too big a step up for the young manager.
Not to mention the fact that continued progression is not guaranteed. If this list was created last year, Garry Monk and Alan Pardew would have been the first names mentioned, for example. Football is brutally fickle that way.
Arsène Wenger (Arsenal)
Arsène Wenger’s aversion to the financial aspects of the modern game and his love for progressive model of the game mean that he is tailor-made for international football.
The Arsenal boss was linked with the job in 2012 before it ultimately went to Hodgson, but with just one year remaining of his current deal and fan apathy scaling to new heights, there is a slight possibility that he may feel that now is the time to make the jump from the Emirates dugout.
Should that happen, however, expect him to be a man in serious demand at both club and international level. The England job would appeal, but the Spain job could also be available should Vicente del Bosque have another bad tournament. If Didier Deschamps decides to leave France in July also, the FFF would almost certainly be back in for a man that has already turned them down on numerous occasions.
Circumstances mean it is unlikely to happen, but Wenger would probably the best possible man for the job should it become available.