LONDON • Sam Allardyce is hoping to be appointed England manager by the end of this week.
The Football Association (FA) is believed to have told all the candidates that a decision on the identity of Roy Hodgson's successor could be announced tomorrow, after a meeting of the full FA board today.
The Sunderland manager is in pole position after impressing chief executive Martin Glenn, vice-chairman David Gill and director of elite development Dan Ashworth in a meeting last week.
The FA has also met Steve Bruce, the Hull City manager, and has spoken to Bournemouth's Eddie Howe and Jurgen Klinsmann, the United States coach, but the trio are viewed as outsiders.
It is understood that Bruce has told members of his coaching staff at Hull that his meeting was an informal chat and that, despite his enthusiasm for the job, he is not expecting to be appointed.
Allardyce, in contrast, has emerged as a clear favourite, with the FA's three-man head-hunting team viewing him as the most experienced and least risky of the immediately available candidates.
Candidates for the England job:
•Current job: Sunderland manager
•Career high: Leading Bolton into the Premier League and on into Europe.
•Career low: His sacking by Newcastle in January 2008.
•Reasons for: Arguably the strongest English candidate by some distance. Behind the deceptively brash, bruising exterior, he is an intelligent, innovative manager .
•Reasons against: Can sometimes restrict individual players' freedom to improvise. No-nonsense, sometimes politically incorrect, approach could cause consternation within the corridors of the Football Association.
•Current job: Hull City manager
•Career high: Leading Hull to two promotions to the Premier League and the 2014 FA Cup final.
•Career low: Being sacked by Sunderland, the biggest club he has managed, in November 2011.
•Reasons for: Experience. Has presided over almost 800 games as a manager and won four promotions. Preaches a brand of competitive yet attractive football .
•Reasons against: Remains sufficiently old school to cause a few palpitations at the FA. Players often respond brilliantly to him for a couple of seasons or so before things start coming undone and underachievement sets in.
•Current job: USA manager
•Career high: Leading Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup.
•Career low: Leaving Bayern Munich after less than a year in charge in April 2009.
•Reasons for: Charismatic, articulate, engaging. Possesses considerable international experience.
•Reasons against: Critics have expressed doubts about how good a coach lurks behind an admittedly bewitching exterior. Many say he needs a top, technically skilled, No. 2 by his side.
•Current job: Bournemouth manager
•Career high: Leading Bournemouth into the Premier League last year and, against all odds, keeping them there.
•Career low: Leaving Burnley, citing personal reasons in 2012.
•Reasons for: One of the brightest young coaches in English football. Articulate, personable, convincing and possessing a healthy degree of humility and nicely understated humour.
•Reasons against: He is too young, this is far too early and could ruin an immensely promising career.
Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, is believed to have given a glowing endorsement of Allardyce to Gill, who is by far the most experienced football administrator involved in the recruitment process, having been on the FA board for 10 years and having been chief executive of United from 2003-13.
In addition, the League Managers' Association is understood to regard Allardyce as the outstanding English candidate.
Allardyce has made no attempt to hide his desire to be given a job that he was interviewed for before the appointment of Steve McClaren 10 years ago, and extracting him from his Sunderland deal and agreeing personal terms should be relatively straightforward.
The 61-year-old is thought to have a release clause in his contract at the Stadium of Light and the FA will have no problem improving his £2 million (S$3.6 million) annual salary.
Allardyce's affordability is thought to be another factor in his favour, as the FA is unwilling to pay the £5 million-plus salaries demanded by candidates such as Laurent Blanc, Roberto Mancini and Guus Hiddink, and want someone who is willing to accept something close to the £3.5-million package that was paid to Hodgson.
Hull joined Sunderland on Tuesday in calling on the FA to resolve the matter as soon as possible, and the governing body is intending to move quickly.
THE TIMES, LONDON